Goldfish are among the most popular first-time pets. They don't take up too much room, don't need to be walked or groomed, and can live happily for decades in a simple bowl that is replaced with fresh chlorinated water every day. Or in a more elaborate set up with filters, gravel and plants to keep the fish in a more natural environment. It's one very uncomplicated life.

However, when one man in the UK noticed his pet goldfish was having a bit of trouble moving its bowels, instead of just letting it die from constipation and sending it off to the big toilet bowl, he decided to bring it to a veterinarian in North Walsham, Norfolk.

The vet said its waste elimination problem was due to a lump in its back, which could be fixed with surgery -- a procedure that would cost $460.

The man, at first, walked away upon hearing the price of the procedure, but after about five minutes of contemplating perhaps the loyal companionship of his goldfish, which was two years and 10 months old, he decided to go ahead with the surgery.

The vet who conducted the surgery was 29-year-old Faye Bethell, who was no stranger to handling surgeries on beloved exotic pets. In the past, she also removed tumors from other more expensive exotic pets, such as carps and snakes. She said the procedure itself is actually straightforward.

The goldfish was first given anesthesia, which was introduced into the water the fish was placed in. When the fish started to swim off-balance, it was removed and placed in a waterproof drape on the operating area. Anesthetic water was pumped through the fish's mouth and gills through a tube, and a tiny heart monitor was used to make sure the fish was in stable condition while Bethell worked her scalpel.

The most complicated part of the procedure was the removal of the lumps themselves. Bethell needed to make cuts with a mini-scalpel and remove each lump one by one, careful not to damage the fish's spine. She closed each cut with three stitches and applied a waterproof glue to protect the fish's scales before it was slowly reawakened. The whole surgery lasted 50 minutes.

The goldfish is said to have made a full recovery and is happily swimming, eating, and passing its waste normally.

Bethell is pleased with her work and glad to be of help to save the lives of beloved pets at the Toll Barn Veterinary Centre .

"It's been an absolutely brilliant year with lovely clients and lovely animals," she said.

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