How to Put a Fish to Sleep

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How to Put a Fish to Sleep. Unfortunately a pet fish can become diseased or suffer an injury that does not improve. Follow these steps to learn about fish euthanasia and how to put a fish to sleep.

Things You'll Need

  • Small container
  • Clove oil
  • White grain alcohol

Measure out some fishtank water into a smaller tank or other container that can be thrown away or cleaned. Make a note of how much you measure out.

Move your fish into the new container of tank water. If it is a see-through container, put a dark towel around it to keep the fish calm.

Pour additional tank water into a small jar or bottle that you can throw away later. A baby food jar or a pill bottle is about the right size. Place one drop of clove oil in the jar, put on the cap and shake well. When the water has turned a milky white color it is ready.

Empty ¼ of the clove oil mixture into the container holding the fish and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Your fish will become lethargic and begin to rest on the bottom of the tank. Its gills will move every few seconds, even though it may appear dead. The fish may even turn belly up.

Continue to dose the fish with ¼ more of the clove mixture every 10 minutes until it no longer rises off the bottom or swims around.

Add white grain alcohol at a 4 to 1 ratio to the water once you are sure that the fish is sleeping. For example, if your fish is in 16 oz. of water, add 4 oz. of alcohol. Let the fish stay in this mixture for no less than 20 minutes.

Verify that in during 1 minute period there is no gill movement on the fish. This means that the fish has passed away. Your fish has felt no pain. It has simply gone to sleep and will not wake up.

Tips & Warnings

  • These steps are for a fish that is up to 3 inches in length. For a larger fish follow the above steps, but place the fish in a larger container. The clove mixture will be 10 drops of oil to 1 gallon of tank water. All other steps apply.
  • Do not add extra clove oil when making the mixture. It will not enact the euthanasia quicker; it will scare your fish.
  • The above steps are considered the most human way to put a fish to sleep and the least stressful process for the owner. Inhumane types of euthanasia include: freezing, boiling, chopping, removing the fish from water, using a seltzer tablet, slamming, decapitating, or flushing the fish down the toilet.

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