Julie Morgan is a fish lover. She has a large saltwater tank in her home where she keeps several pet fish. One of those fish, a wrasse named Kiwi, developed a cataract in one of his eyes, and once the other fish in the tank figured out his eye was damaged, they started bullying him.
“They figured out which eye was not working,” Morgan told Fox 2 Now St. Louis. “They’d go up behind him, biting his tail. He had chunks of his tail taken out.”
Morgan took Kiwi to Dr. Megan Baebler of the Kersting Veterinary Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri, for treatment. The veterinarian first removed the cataract and then had to remove the eye. Kiwi had an empty eye socket where his eye was, which might have exacerbated further bullying. So Baebler purchased a 9-mm prosthetic eye made of acrylic, and proceeded to custom paint the eye with nail polish and eye shadow pigments to give the eye some iridescence, she told Fox 2.
Baebler then performed the surgery on Kiwi, placing him under general anesthesia for the 30-minute procedure to insert the fake eye into its socket and sew it up.
“It’s going to be the best chance for him to lead a normal life in his tank,” Baebler told the news station.
Morgan was delighted with the outcome. Kiwi is eating and swimming in his hospital tank until he can be reunited with his former tank mates.
“A lot of other people would say, ‘Yes, put him down. Go ahead, it’s just a fish.’ Well, my opinion is nothing is just a something,” Morgan told Fox 2 Now St. Louis. “And if I could give him quality of life, why not?”
Baebler, who specializes in exotic pets, told the news station that the procedure performed on Kiwi is the second procedure done on a captive fish, and the first done on a privately owned fish. A yellow rockfish was fitted with a prosthetic eye at the Vancouver Aquarium back in 2014. It was also bullied in its tank.