This is one of many FAQs I get. I often answer with a question, “What do you think is a fish vet?” If you know what a vet is, and what a fish is, just combine them together, and that’s the answer.
“You mean a fish doctor?”
I reply, “Yes, sort of.” And the reason I reply like this is because I’m not a doctor, but better, I am a veterinarian! You see, not all doctors are veterinarians. The practice of diagnosing conditions and treating diseases in animals (including fish) fall under the Acts of Veterinary Science.
There goes the old adage of “Real doctors treat more than one species.”
But an aquatic vet, I’d say, “Real veterinarians treat more than one phylum!”
The next question is ,”What do you have to do, to become a fish vet?”
To be a fish veterinarian, you have to undertake studies to become a veterinarian. Nowadays, this entails enrolling into a veterinary course at a university. The standard veterinary course takes 6 to 7 years to complete, depending on where studies are undertaken. Once you have passed, it enables you to work with pretty much any animal you wish. In this instance, I’ve chosen to work with fish.
Most veterinary courses are a little light on providing students with exposure to aquatic veterinary medicine. And so, most aquatic veterinarians undertake further study to gain the knowledge and skills in order to give their clients the best possible service.
Some of these include:
· short courses such as Aquavet, Marvet, Seavet, etc.,
· examinations (e.g. by the Australian & New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists)
· private study (e.g. journal articles, books, DVDs)
· attending conferences where aquatic subjects are provided (e.g. AVMA, WSAVA, AVA)
· on-the-job training (pretty much training yourself)
· joining an aquatic veterinary medical association (e.g. WAVMA, FVS, AAFV)
· keeping your own fishes of course (there is no better way to learn, than by doing it yourself)
· and more!
Those veterinarians who’ve spent more than a decade working in the aquatic field, are able to get their knowledge, skills and experience assessed by the WAVMA, and be awarded the post-nominals CertAqV (Certified Aquatic Veterinarian).
Dr Richmond Loh
DipProjMgt, BSc, BVMS, MPhil (Pathology), MANZCVS (Aquatics & Pathobiology), CertAqV, CMAVA, NATA Signatory.
THE FISH VET, Perth, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA.
Mobile Aquatic Veterinary Medical & Diagnostic Services.
Ph: +61 (0)421 822 383
President WAVMA 2014