Do you have to be a veterinarian, to be a fish vet?

I’m sometimes called a fish doctor by clients, but I would more rightly be called a fish vet.

Often people ask, "Do you have to be a veterinarian and then do further study to become a fish vet?"

The answer is, "Yes."

Legally speaking, you have to be a registered veterinarian to perform medical procedures on animals (which includes fishes). Making diagnoses, and treating or prescribing treatments constitute "acts of veterinary science".

Post-graduation, I sat rigorous examinations to become a Member of the ANZCVS in the subjects of Aquatic Animal Health, and then in Pathobiology (study of diseases). I also earned a Masters of Philosophy in Pathology, and have since become a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian. But, all this study doesn’t beat getting real-life experience, which has been considerable since graduating in 2001.

There are however, courses that you can do to learn more about aquatic animal health that don’t require vet degree. For instance, the MSc in Aquatic Production and Veterinary Health

A bachelors degree is a prerequisite, and preference is given to applicants with academic background in biology, marine science, environmental science, and/or veterinary science.

It’s the newest course of its kind and the curriculum looks comprehensive. A great way for any fish health professional to expand on their fish expertise.

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Yours sincerely,

Dr Richmond Loh DipProjMgt, BSc, BVMS, MPhil (Pathology), MANZCVS (Aquatics & Pathobiology), CertAqV, CMAVA, NATA Signatory.
Aquatic Veterinarian & Veterinary Pathologist

Mobile Aquatic Veterinary Medical & Diagnostic Services.



2 thoughts on “Do you have to be a veterinarian, to be a fish vet?

  1. Can people diagnose and/or treat their own fish in Australia? And, are there any exceptions for emergency situations, good samaritans and/or people helping others for free?


    1. Diagnosing diseases in animals, and treatment of animals are acts of veterinary science. So unless you are a registered veterinarian, you are not allowed to diagnose and treat other animals.

      To explain using humans as examples, we are able to self treat, however, we are not allowed to treat others without being suitably qualified.


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