0208 943 2303   info@alpha-vets.co.uk
24h Emergency Service 0208 783 2850


How to care for your fish

We’re more than happy to see your fish at our veterinary surgery. We provide a variety of fish veterinary services including, consultations and health checks, as well as advice on husbandry and quarantining. A fish vet on our expert team can help you with any questions you may have and will be there to consult, diagnose and treat your fish.


Please call our regular telephone number0208 943 2303 (Alpha Teddington); 01372 460107 (Claygate) during office hours and speak to one of our receptionists who will help book you for the correct consultation appointment.


Please remember to inform our receptionists how many pets you will be bringing. Each pet will need to be scheduled individually for a consultation to allow the vet time to properly examine each pet and discuss its problems.


Please note that our staff who answer the ‘Emergency Call’ number outside of office hours are unable to book regular day time consultations.


Here is a guideline to the different types of consultations we normally provide:

  • Regular Consultation: This is our standard 15 minute consultation with the vet for an animal with a new health problem, a problem that has recurred from some time ago, or an ongoing problem.
  • Second Opinion Consultation:  If your pet has been to see another vet for this problem (within the last year) and you would like our opinion on the problem, then we need to read the previous medical record, blood results and x-rays etc. We can then learn what medicines have been used and what the original vet found on examination. We need to do this in order to properly understand your pets’ condition and provide you with a good second opinion. As this takes time to arrange the consultation must generally be booked at least one day in advance. As this is a more complex and time consuming procedure, we normally schedule for you to spend 30 minutes with the veterinarian and we charge a higher fee.
  • Walk in Consultation:  If you come in without an appointment booked we will try our best to fit you in; however you may have to wait for an hour or even longer if the vets are busy. Of course if your pet’s life is in danger we will assess their condition and may admit them into the hospital while we make a vet available. The Walk in Consultation is generally scheduled for 15 minutes with the veterinarian but is charged at a higher fee than the Regular Consultation.
  • We strongly advise our clients to try and make an appointment as we are often fully booked or very busy. We do not want your pet to become stressed if they have to wait a long time.
  • Referral Consultation: This is when another vet has asked you to come and consult with us as they feel we have more expertise with fish or with your fish’s specific problem. In these cases the other veterinarian will directly fax us a ‘Referral Letter’ and your fish’s medical records. Afterwards we will also inform your original vet of the outcome of the case. This also requires the extended 30 minute consultation.

Once you have made the appointment please make sure that you, or whoever is bringing in the pet, has all the information as follows:

  1. How long your pet has been sick for and what symptoms is it showing.
  2. What food your pet is fed on, including any snacks and supplements.
  3. Any medicines that may have been given to your pet (please bring in the packets or containers).
  4. What is the origin of your pet and what animals has it been in contact with.
  5. What are urine & faeces (poop) usually like and what are they presently like.
  6. That the owner or a decision maker will be available on the telephone if they cannot come in.

Please note that to sign a consent form (for example for an operation or if you pet needs to be admitted into hospital) legally it must be someone over the age of 18 years old to sign.

We require payment for the services provided immediately after a consultation. If your pet does unfortunately need to be admitted to hospital or for surgery you will be required to pay a deposit. To try and make it more convenient for you we do accept payments by cash, cheque, debit and credit cards.


And don’t forget to collect your  ALPHA CARD – our free loyalty card which gives you 1% back on everything you spend with us! You collect points on your card which you can redeem against any of our services or products! The card is free to all clients, and we even give you 500 points (=£5) to get you started! Ask at reception for more details when you come in.

Health Checks

Regular health checks are advisable for your fish in order to identify and treat conditions early.

Your vet will need to examine both your fish AND the water in the aquarium/pond.

It is important that your fish is brought in a suitable container with an adequate volume of water – as a general rule, approximately 1 Litre of water per cm length of fish.  Aeration, provided by a powerhead/airstone and temperature control (depending on species) also need to be addressed.

It is a good idea to bring in extra tank water as a clean source for transport back home.

Please bring in one or more representatives of your diseased population. If any of your fish have died recently (within 24hrs) please keep them refrigerated in water (do not freeze) and bring them in also – your vet will be able to get a lot of information by performing a post mortem which may well yield information that could save the remaining individuals,

Please bring a separate sample of tank water (500ml if possible). If you are able to measure tank water temperature and oxygen saturation at home this will help tremendously.

We will use this sample to analyse water quality by testing; ammonia, nitrite and pH levels.

We have facilities to measure oxygen saturation and temperature but these values change very rapidly and may not be representative of conditions at home.




Your vet will ask you a series of questions related to your fish, including:

  • How long has the tank held fish?
  • What species of fish are kept in the same tank?
  • Are all the fish affected or just one?
  • Are the fish displaying abnormal behaviour (rubbing on objects, staying near the aerator)
  • How often are the fish fed, what food?
  • How often is the water changed?
  • What type and size of filter is used?
  • Are any additives used in the water?
  • Have any treatments been used to date?

We will examine the fish looking for colour changes, behaviour changes, and other signs of sickness.

Further testing may be required including taking tissue samples or using x-ray or ultrasound imaging.

In some cases sedation is required to facilitate these diagnostic tests and your fish may need to stay in the hospital for the day.

Nutritional Advice

Fish vary widely in nutritional requirements and can be herbivorous (plant eating), carnivorous (meat eating), insectivorous (insect eating) or omnivorous (will eat plants, meat and insect matter). Therefore it is important to know what species you have.

Most freshwater aquarium fish do well on a good brand of flakes or pellets. Take note of whether your fish species is surface or bottom feeding (flakes float!). Dry diets DO expire. Try and use within 3 months of purchase otherwise nutritional quality tends to deteriorate rapidly.

Dry foods can be supplemented with other food items such as live or frozen products (brine shrimp, microworms water fleas and krill)

Live fish can be used to feed carnivorous fish but can transmit diseases. Frozen items are safer but are often nutrient deficient due to the freezing process. Some diseases can also survive the freezing process.

Avoid overfeeding as wasted food material can quickly and severely affect water quality. Frequency of feeding depends on the type of fish you have. Herbivorous fish need more frequent feedings as do those that are growing. At each feed, offer as much as can be consumed in a 15-20 minute period. Remove any uneaten food material with a fine net.  As a rough guide 1-2 times per day with 1 day per week of no feeding is a good rule of thumb.

Husbandry Advice

Husbandry is basically the aquarium set-up and includes:

Tank/aquarium: This is usually glass. The largest tank you can accommodate and afford is best. Larger tanks are easier to keep clean due to the larger volume of water they hold.

Substrate: What you have on the bottom of the tank (gravel, sand and coral). There are some materials that can leach substances into the water, affecting water quality parameters such as pH.

Filters: These can be small hanging types, under gravel or external canister filters. Filters circulate the water for oxygenation and remove nitrogenous waste products via the bacteria that live in the filter. The filter needs to be rated for the tank size you have.

Aerators: Such as an air-stone. These increase water circulation and thus oxygen levels.

Live plants: These can produce oxygen and remove nutrients. They also provide hiding places for your fish.

Decorations: These can again provide hiding places for your fish or just make the aquarium nicer to look at. They should be approved as aquarium safe.

Heaters: These are usually submerged and run on a thermostat helping you to provide the optimum water temperatures.


This is often the best time to have your vet examine your new fish.

If you have existing fish, it is a good idea to keep your new purchases in an already established quarantine tank in order to monitor them for signs of sickness and disease. This will minimise the chances of spreading any disease to your existing population.

A quarantine tank is a similar set up to your main tank – large tank, appropriately sized filter, appropriate heating. We usually recommend using no substrate as this makes the tank easier to monitor and keep clean. Sand and gravel are perfect for harbouring disease causing pathogens so are best avoided.

We usually recommend a 2-week quarantine period, after which the new fish can be carefully introduced to the existing population.

Please contact your vet to discuss specific quarantine procedures.

Learn more about your pet

You can download our PDF documents for more information.

Cushings Syndrome

Guinea Pig – Feeding


Cat – Moving House

Exotic – Critical Care

Cat & Dog – Bereavement

Remember, you can contact us anytime!