An expert vet who specialises in caring for exotic pets has shared an incredible video of his treatment of a troubled Porcupine Pufferfish. 

The amazing footage shows specialist Daniel Calvo Carrasco caring for Goldie, a five-year-old female fish whose beak had grown so big she could barely eat. 

Highly-qualified Daniel, an RCVS specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and European Specialist in Avian Medicine and Surgery, carried out the unusual treatment at Sandhole Veterinary Centre in Snodland, Kent, which is owned by Linnaeus.

He described how Goldie’s problem had arisen, saying: “Porcupine pufferfish teeth are known as beaks and grow continuously throughout their lives. 

“They’re usually kept short naturally, as they’re worn down on their regular diet of hard-shelled foods but, while these foods are provided in her home environment, she is not as forthcoming in eating them as her other tank mates. 

“As a result, her upper beak grew to the point where it was hindering her ability to eat effectively.” 

Daniel, assisted by vet nurse Debbie Addison, took on the task of trimming the overgrown beak to enable Goldie to start eating properly again but first had to put in place extensive preparations and precautions to successfully complete the procedure. 

Daniel explained: “Goldie was brought into the practice in a large watertight container containing water from her home tank and a licensed fish anaesthetic was placed into the water until she achieved a light plane of anaesthesia.  

“To support her further, the water was oxygenated throughout. This meant she was still breathing nicely throughout but was able to be held for brief periods out of the water without becoming too stressed.”

Porcupine Pufferfish have the ability to inflate their bodies, with the increase in size (almost double vertically) reducing the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths.

A second defence mechanism is provided by sharp spines which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated and Daniel said these both had to be taken into consideration throughout Goldie’s procedure.

He said: “Debbie was able to hold Goldie in a damp towel to prevent her becoming too dry, while also ensuring she was protected if she did trigger her defence mechanism to inflate her body and activate her spines. 

“It was during those brief periods out of the anaesthetic water that I was able to use a dental burr to cut through her upper beak and reduce its length by half. 

“Once the procedure had been completed, Goldie was placed into a second large container with water from her home tank to recover from the anaesthetic.  

“She responded well. Within five minutes, she was able to stay up right in the water and within 10 minutes she was back to happily swimming around. 

“The whole procedure went swimmingly and was conducted in under an hour without any stress at all and Goldie was back home and eating well within two hours.” 

Goldie’s owner Mark Byatt, from Leybourne, Kent, said: “About three months ago, we noticed her front beak was growing very quickly even though she was eating cockle in shell every day.

“We aren’t sure why Goldie’s teeth never really managed to grind themselves naturally but we knew we needed to get them filed, although we were unsure about how to achieve this. 

“I was also very concerned about the process of getting Goldie to the surgery, as transporting large tropical fish is not without risk.

“However, after discussing my concerns with Debbie at Sandhole, we came up with a plan to transport her there quickly and safely.”

Mark then had an anxious wait while Dan successfully trimmed Goldie’s overgrown beak and afterwards, he was full of praise for the Sandhole team.

He said: “Daniel and Debbie were excellent. They gave me a full breakdown of the process, with every aspect of the operation discussed and explained in great detail, and I was completely reassured.

“Goldie was so well looked after and she was home within the hour and quickly back to swimming around happily. 

“I would definitely recommend Dan and Debbie for their skill in dealing with marine tropical fish after experiencing the time and care they took with Goldie.”

Sandhole Veterinary Centre is owned by Linnaeus and its highly experienced team delivers 
gold-standard surgical and clinical expertise for pets. For more information, visit

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