When Boredom Strikes

A one-eyed Vancouver fish receives a fake eye so that other fish will not bully him

A fish whose eye was removed due to cataract was bullied by other fish at the Vancouver Aquarium. So the vets fitted the fish with a prosthetic eye to fool the other fishes.

At the Vancouver Aquarium, there is a Copper Rockfish that is different from the others in appearance. Martin Haulena speaks to Global News about him and the reasons the other fish bullied him.

In 2015, a happy ending to a bullying tale occurred in a 69,000-liter water tank.

After being bullied by other fish for months, one of the copper rockfish at the Vancouver Aquarium received a prosthetic eye, giving him a new lease on life.

“Before the prosthetic, he was being hurt and quite uncomfortable because he was being picked on,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Other fish are known to take advantage of fish who are missing an eye by sneaking up on them, stealing their food, and picking on them.

It is well known that some species compete with one another for the best available habitat and space, so this type of aggression is completely normal.

The affected rockfish underwent eye removal two years ago because his cataracts failed to clear up. The fish had started slumming at the bottom of the tank in recent months, losing scales and appearing generally untidy.

Up until the decision to perform the Vancouver Aquarium’s first procedure of its kind and give him a taxidermy eye.

WATCH: Surgery-related video

According to Haulena, the procedure has been used in other aquariums for nearly 20 years. “Ever since we put in the prosthetic, the fish is right back in the mid-water column, interacting with other fish,” she says. “He has more strength. The fish and everyone else appear to be much happier now.

Naturally, the fish is still partially blind, but the others are unaware of this.

“Years and years ago, people would say just get another fish, but I don’t think that’s the attitude anymore,” claims Haulena.

Doing what is best for all animals, regardless of species, is actually kind of a nice thing to do.

one eyed Vancouver fish 1
The fish in question, with prosthetic eye attached. Photo Credit: Vancouver Aquarium
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