Delicate goldfish surgery an eye-opener at Lort Smith

Gary the goldfish is recuperating at home after micro-surgery to remove his enlarged eye was successfully completed by the team at Lort Smith Animal Hospital recently.

Lort Smith exotics vet Dr Tristan Rich performed the delicate procedure, which saw the 24-gram comet goldfish anaesthetised and out of water for almost 20 minutes while having his left eye surgically removed.

“They might be small, but goldfish are surprisingly resilient and Gary appears to have responded really well,” Dr Rich said.

“His eye had become significantly swollen and was in all likelihood no longer functioning.”

“Surgery on an animal as small as a goldfish can be quite tricky, but it was great to have a positive outcome for Gary in this case,” he said.

Gary, who is around ten years old, was suffering from what is colloquially known as “pop eye” – a relatively common condition for gold fish which could have many different causes. His eye failed to respond to antibiotics and other treatment, meaning surgery became necessary. Following a brief recovery at Lort Smith, Gary has returned to his owner’s fish pond where he is showing no ill-effects from his experience.

Coincidently, Gary lives in the same pond as another goldfish named George, who underwent surgery at Lort Smith in 2014 to remove a tumour. See details of George’s surgery on Facebook.

Lort Smith CEO David Herman said that while vets at Lort Smith undertake more than 37,000 consultations each year, goldfish surgery is certainly not one of the more common procedures.

“Most of our patients are cats and dogs, but our amazing team care for ferrets, rabbits, birds, snakes and more,” Mr Herman said.

“The bond between people and their pets is a special one, no matter what kind of animal they have.”

“As a non-profit organisation, Lort Smith doesn’t receive any government funding, so the only way we can continue to provide care for animals like Gary the goldfish is thanks to the on-going support of the local community,” he said.

Lort Smith has launched its annual end of financial year giving campaign to raise much needed funds to continue its important work. More details of how to contribute are available online at