Emma Marsh knew something was wrong. She noticed that her pet goldfish, Conquer, had eaten one of the pebbles in his tank, but he couldn't spit it back out. The tiny rock had become lodged across the side of his mouth, and the poor little guy appeared to be choking.
The woman from Queensland, Australia, immediately scooped Conquer into a smaller container and rushed him to the nearby Brisbane Bird and Exotics Veterinary Service for help.
“I treat fish like they’re any other pet,” Marsh told the Courier Mail. "He was making excessive mouth movements trying to dislodge it ... if we did nothing he would have starved to death."
The vets at the clinic posted on Facebook that they were amazed she noticed the pebble at all.
"We were amazed that [Conquer's] owner noticed the pebble — she is a very observant and devoted mum! Due to [Conquer's] translucent white scales, there was a slight darkening in the mouth region where the stone was sitting at the bottom of his throat, and when he gaped his mouth it was possible to get a glimpse of the pebble, if you were looking for it. We are constantly amazed by our brilliant owners, this was definitely one of those cases!"
Conquer, who is only about 2 inches long, had swallowed a pebble that was about .4 inches long. Vets sedated him by dripping some anesthetic into his water until he fell asleep. They tilted his mouth slightly out of the water so they could carefully use tiny forceps to extract the firmly lodged stone.
After the pebble was removed, Conquer was moved to a tank with clean water where he "was allowed to recover uneventfully," according to the clinic. He spent the night for observation and went home the next day.
The whole adventure cost about $375 (or about $500 in Australian funds), reported the Courier Mail. The emergency consultation was about $75 with another $300 for the anesthetic and the hospital stay.
But it was worth every penny. Conquer is reportedly doing well.