Fish have become a popular experimental model and companion animal, and are also farmed and caught for food. Thus, surgical and invasive procedures in this animal group are common, and this review will focus on the anesthesia and analgesia of fish. A variety of anesthetic agents are commonly applied to fish via immersion. Correct dosing can result in effective anesthesia for acute procedures as well as loss of consciousness for surgical interventions. Dose and anesthetic agent vary between species of fish and are further confounded by a variety of physiological parameters (e.g., body weight, physiological stress) as well as environmental conditions (e.g., water temperature). Combination anesthesia, where 2 anesthetic agents are used, has been effective for fish but is not routinely used because of a lack of experimental validation. Analgesia is a relatively underexplored issue in regards to fish medicine. However, recent studies have investigated opioid agents, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and local anesthetics to determine their efficacy in minimizing pain and discomfort. The opioid morphine and the local anesthetic lidocaine do have significant effectiveness in reducing pain-related responses in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Studies aimed at developing reliable analgesic protocols should explore a wide range of analgesic drug classes in several fish species.
Sneddon, L. U. (2012). Clinical anesthesia and analgesia in fish. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 21(1), 32-43.