Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   How do you humanely euthanize a fish??? (

LasColinasCichlids 03-20-2011 02:42 AM

How do you humanely euthanize a fish???
Maybe I am a little slow, or just dont want to think that hard about ending a fish's life...but I have a weird question.

I have read a lot of the threads on here, and ocassionally someone will say that they had to "humanely euthanize" their very sick or injured fish. So... how would one do that??!!! :shock:

Not that I ever want to be put in a spot to do it, but I am VERY curious to how in the world one does this. And I cannot think of any way to euthanize a fish that coexists with the word humanely.:shock:

Can anyone enlighten me on this?:oops:

small fry 03-20-2011 03:38 AM

Someone needs to sticky a thread somewhere on that topic. Just no good place for it I guess. Maybe the fish emergency sub-forum.

Anyway, you can take a look at my thread from way back. It gets kind of...well...maybe some people would say sickening (like one person suggest somewhat violent ways to put down a fish), but that is simply a warning to any tender-hearted, weak stomached members out there (which is perfectly legitimate and nothing to be ashamed of. That was not an insult to anyone who doesn't want to view the thread).

This helped me through my first euthanization. Please read the entire thread before you attempt anything (as many things suggested in the begining of the thread are proven harmful later in the thread), and I have to ask you not to use the frozen water method.


Hope you learn what you need to, and I hope you wont have to use what you learned here some day.

Hope this helps!

Pufferfish22 03-20-2011 03:48 AM

I've just read that post too as it was something that had bothered me for a long time too. I think the clove oil and vodka method is the kindest and have printed off the method and added it to my fish box of tricks just incase I ever need it. Thank you so much for starting this thread, it's been very informative.

Here is the info incase you can't find it (Icopied and pasted it from the original post)

Clove oil, or eugenol, is available at most drug stores and is sold as a toothache remedy. It has been used for years as a fish anesthetic for surgeries and tagging procedures. Clove oil will put a fish to sleep and ensure it feels no pain. The fish can wake up from this sleep if removed from the clove bath, however. The last step of adding the vodka will ensure the fish expires.
Here are the steps for fish up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length:
1. Add tank water to a measuring cup or mixing bowl. Measure the amount of tank water you add to the cup or bowl and make a note of it. Place the fish in the container. If the fish is in a clear cup, place a dark towel around the cup to calm the fish.
2. Fill a small, clean jar or bottle with tank water, leaving some room at the top. You might use a baby food jar or pill bottle. Put 1 drop of clove oil in the jar or bottle, cap, and shake vigorously. The clove oil should emulsify, turning the water milky white.
Gently pour about 1/4 of this emulsified mixture into the fish's container. The fish will begin listing as it starts to fall asleep. Let the fish be for about 10 minutes.
The fish should be resting on the bottom of the tank when it has fallen asleep. It will look dead, but if you watch closely, its gills will be breathing once every few seconds. If after 10 minutes the fish is still rising off the bottom and swimming intermittently, retrieve the jar or bottle of emulsified clove oil, re-shake, and add the same dose to the fish's container. Wait again.
3. Once the fish is asleep on the bottom, add 20-25% white grain alcohol. For example, if the fish is in 8 oz (240 ml) of water, add 2 oz (60 ml) of vodka. Let the fish stay there for at least 20 minutes.
4. Check the fish carefully after 20 minutes for any gill movement. If there is no gill movement over a 60 second period, the fish has expired.

Read more:

Romad 03-20-2011 07:18 AM

I use the clove oil and vodka method. I just couldn't smash a fish or cut it's head off.

Pufferfish22 03-20-2011 10:37 AM

No I couldn't either, something someone else suggested that I couldn't ever bring myself to do was to drop an ill fish into boiling water, apparently it's instant but still couldn't bring myself to do it :cry:

small fry 03-20-2011 11:28 AM

I don't blame you guys. Putting down a fish is hard, especially if you feel you are disrespectfully boiling or beheading your live fish. If there is an easy way (and yes, I like Romad's method), than why not use it? (unless you are under 21 and your parents wont buy you vodka for fish)

Good work Romad!:-)

Byron 03-20-2011 01:38 PM

I still say the quickest way is to net the fish out onto a piece of paper towelling folded over, fold the towel around the fish, and hit it with your hand. The fish is instantly dead, and I mean instantly, with absolutely no pain and the only stress is netting it out which is nothing beyond what would happen normally when you net it out.

All the other methods involve time, and what is the fish going through while it is being frozen, or "put to sleep?"

LasColinasCichlids 03-20-2011 02:51 PM

Thank you all for clearifying this for me.

@Small Fry...I laughed so hard at the comment about parents buying vodka for fish for an under 21 persons that I coughed up a lung!!!!

@Byron... I just could not ever do that.

I dont think I could ever do any of those, unless absolutely needed I would consider the clove oil and vodka.

ginagv 03-20-2011 04:53 PM

I was faced with this situation once, and it broke my heart... In the end, it was the most humane thing I could do for my poor suffering fish.

I used the clove oil/vodka method and it was really was a quite calm, quiet and peaceful passing for the fish.

Any of the other methods are very cruel to the fish... I honestly believe that.


Mikaila31 03-20-2011 05:57 PM

I use clove oil alone to euthanize. I see no reason to add vodka if it is properly done. Vodka will cause the fish pain if it is not properly sedated with clove oil. I've never had a problem using clove oil by itself to euthanize a fish.

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