ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Kill A Sick Pet Fish

Updated on July 2, 2010

Fish keeping has a dark side, and that is the end of life issues associated with fish. Sometimes it becomes necessary to euthanize a pet fish because of illness. The popular solution associated with this issue is flushing your fish down the toilet, however this not only doesn't kill the fish usually, it can endanger native wildlife if your fish manages to make it through the system and back into rivers. (It is apparently not uncommon for workers at water treatment plants to find live fish that have been flushed.)

So what can you do without traumatizing yourself and the fish unduly? And what doesn't work?

The Circle of Life

If the fish is not diseased, feeding it to a larger fish is always an option, and probably one of the more 'humane' ones, assuming that the fish is about the right size to fit in the larger fish's mouth. Large cichlids are usually predatory and will put disabled fish out of their misery very quickly.


If you have a blender, you could theoretically toss your fish into it whilst it is running. However this turns your fish keeping experience into something like a slasher film. It's bad enough having to put a pet out of its misery without also seeing it transformed into fish gut soup before your very eyes.

Squash, Hack and Slash

Obviously hitting your fish with a brick, or stabbing it in the head with a knife is going to kill it. Also rather obviously, this is usually not a preferred option for most owners. If you really have no other option and it is a small fish, you can put the fish in a plastic bag, cover the plastic bag with paper and hit it with a brick. This makes for a quick death and minimal clean up.

Clove Oil

In my experience this is the fastest, most pain free and humane way of putting a fish to sleep. Clove oil is a natural anesthetic, and at low concentration levels can be used simply to put fish to sleep for a little while. At higher doses, and without removing the fish from the solution, the fish will die.

The dose rate for death is: 0.25 ml per liter of water (about 1 ml per gallon, or 1/4 teaspoon per gallon).

If you intend on keeping fish, I strongly, strongly recommend you invest in some clove oil. There are some fish ailments that strike fish that are incurable (like dropsy), but which do not kill the fish right away. The fish can spend days or weeks slowly dying, and potentially infecting other fish.

Using clove oil at the rates mentioned above and leaving the fish in the solution overnight is a kind way to euthanize a water pet.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bunniez profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I personally always use clove oil because it is a natural sedative and the fish does not seem to suffer, however I felt it probably best in the interests of balance to include methods other people used.

      I've seen several 'professionals' (and I am a member of our national aquarium organization, so I know plenty of them) recommend destroying the brain (ie, stabbing) in the case of large fish. It's not animal abuse to dispatch an animal in the quickest manner possible. Now sure, if you waste time stabbing fish willy nilly you might be ticketed for it. But it is ludicrous to say that an owner should not be able to dispatch their fish in the same way a fisherman would.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am a professional, and the most humane way to kill a fish is like the writer said clove oil, or baking soda. Just isolate the fish and put about 1-4 cups depending on the fish's size in the water, and it dies instantly. Putting your fish in a blender, or stabbing it/squishing it is animal abuse, and even though it is just a fish you can be ticketed or arrested for it, just like with any other animal.

    • Whitney05 profile image


      8 years ago from Georgia

      Freezing the sick fish is a good idea, as well. It's quick and simple.

      I'd assume throwing it in a blender or squashing it would be traumatizing, especially for children.

    • Bunniez profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Nobody wants to have to do this, but it is necessary sometimes as a fish keeper. Some diseases have a 100% mortality rate and can spread throughout a population very quickly if not checked.

      I hope this saves a few sick fish from being shoved down the toilet alive to die abandoned in the sewers.

    • kgnature profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Sad but necessary information. Thanks. (I think)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)