WATCH ABOVE: There’s a Copper Rockfish at the Vancouver Aquarium that doesn’t quite look like the others. Martin Haulena tells Global News about him and why he was bullied by the other fish.
A bullying story reached a happy ending last month in a 69,000-litre tank of water.
The Vancouver Aquarium gave a prosthetic eye to one of their copper rockfish, giving him a new lease on life after months of harassment from other fish.
“Before the prosthetic, he was being hurt and quite uncomfortable because he was picked on,” said Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena.
“What’s been observed with fish that are missing an eye is other fish take advantage of that..they kind of go to that blind side, steal food and pick on [them].”
“It’s a well-known thing that there is natural aggression as different species kind of vie for the best space and habitat they’re in, so that kind of aggression is very very normal.”
The rockfish in question had one of his eyes removed two years ago after his cataracts didn’t heal. In recent months, the fish had taken to slumming at the bottom of the tank, losing scales and looking generally disheveled.
Until the decision to give him a taxidermy eye – the first surgery of its type at the Vancouver Aquarium.
WATCH: Footage from the surgery
“Ever since we put in the prosthetic the fish is right back in the mid-water column, interacting with other fish,” says Haulena, who says the procedure has taken place in other aquariums for nearly 20 years. “He’s more robust. Everybody, including the fish, seem a lot happier now.”
Of course, the fish is still half-blind – but the others don’t know that.
“Years and years ago, people would say just get another fish, but I don’t think that’s the attitude anymore,” says Haulena.
“It really is kind of a nice thing to do the best for every animal, no matter what kind.”
The fish involved, lacking vocal cords, could not be available for comment.