ST. LOUIS, June 27 (UPI) -- A Missouri fish underwent surgery to have a blind eye replaced with a prosthetic to keep him from being bullied by his owner's other aquatic pets.
Julie Morgan of St. Louis said her 7-year-old saltwater fish, Kiwi, was being harassed and attacked by his tank-mates after developing a cataract in his eye.
"They figured out which eye was not working," Morgan told KTVI-TV. "They'd go up behind him, biting his tail. He had chunks of his tail taken out."
Dr. Megan Baebler of the Kersting Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield removed the cataract and later determined the eye itself needed to be removed. She replaced the eye with a prosthetic to help fool the other fish in Kiwi's tank into thinking he has two working peepers.
"I actually hand-painted the eye myself," she said. "I used a mixture of some nail polish and some eye shadow pigments, actually, to give it some iridescence."
"It's going to be the best chance for him to lead a normal life in his tank," Baebler said.
Morgan said Kiwi is recovering well from his surgery and will soon rejoin his tank-mates.
"I think he's doing great," Morgan said. "He's eating, he's swimming. He's happy."
"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. And if I could give him quality of life, why not?" she said.
A copper rockfish at Canada's Vancouver Aquarium underwent a similar procedure last year when officials noticed the fish was being bullied by other animals that apparently noticed he was missing an eye.
"Ever since we put in the prosthetic the fish is right back in the mid-water column, interacting with other fish," the aquarium's head veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, said last year "He's more robust. Everybody, including the fish, seem a lot happier now."