Exotic fish undergoes tricky eye operation

Quinn, a clown triggerfish resident at Shark Lab, had a diseased eye removed.

MOSSEL BAY NEWS - Quinn, a 10-year-old female clown triggerfish, is recovering at the Shark Lab after a successful operation last week to remove her diseased right eye.
Quinn developed exophthalmia or pop eye while boarding at another facility. After more than one antibiotic treatment proved unsuccessful, the Shark Lab director, Alan Jardine, approached Dr Pieter de Wet to remove the grossly enlarged eye.
Quinn had lost all sight in this eye, which protruded from its socket and Jardine was concerned that Quinn was experiencing ongoing pain from the condition. In exophthalmia, the enormous swelling of the eye is caused by tissue fluid leaking into the area behind the eyeball, causing sufficient pressure to force the eye from its socket. At this point, bacterial infections invariably occur and the cornea clouds over.
Dr De Wet, assisted by Hannalie Hurter (both from the Mossel Bay Animal Hospital) removed the affected eye while Quinn was under anaesthetic. Alan Jardine is thrilled that the operation went so smoothly and commented that Quinn recovered from the anaesthetic in record time and began feeding the following day.
Quinn was originally collected at the subtropical island of Inhaca off the East African coast in 2007.
Clown triggerfish are spectacularly beautiful creatures. From an evolutionary point of view, triggerfish are some of the most advanced fish in the sea, highly intelligent creatures that go about their business in the most deliberate manner.
These fish show not only complex learned behaviours, but also display amazing individuality. Clown triggerfish have well-developed personalities and are forever curious. Those kept in aquariums soon develop the habit of observing people going about their daily tasks. Those that are housed alone especially relate easily to humans and follow the routines of aquarium staff with apparent interest.
Quinn was operated on a week previously and is currently back on display in the Aquarium hall. Jardine has placed a small cleaner wrasse or "doctor fish" with Quinn to assist in keeping her wound clean. These little "helpers" set up cleaning stations on the coral reef and remove external parasites, excess mucus, damaged scales and dead skin from the many fish clients who arrive daily to be groomed.
Jardine commented that he and his team are sincerely grateful to Dr De Wet and Hannalie Hurter for the professional way they carried out a difficult and not often attempted procedure.
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