How to Humanely Euthanize a Betta Fish

How to Humanely Euthanize a Betta Fish

It’s always fun to keep the aquarium in your home or office. You just take care and enjoy having your fish friends, and with time, they find their way into your heart.

Unfortunately, some circumstances may force you to euthanize your fish. And today, you will learn how to humanely euthanize a betta fish.

Siamese fighting fish, simply known as Betta, is the most common breed in our aquarium. They originate from South East Asia, and they are mostly found in slow-moving water streams or shallow water channels.

Surprisingly, most of the betta fish we domesticate are bred hence the usual appealing colors.

Since they are bred, they become prone to harsh weather conditions and disease infections. But if you are able to take care of them, they can indeed be your best pets.

What is Euthanasia

red and silver fighting fish

Animal euthanasia is the painless killing of the animal or allowing it to die by withholding medical measures. Animal euthanasia is done when the disease or condition becomes incurable or lacks treatments resources.

Usually, it’s carried out when the animal is in intense pain, and the medication is not yielding better fruits. The process is carried out after various consultations and clear decisions following the ethical standards.

Why Would You Euthanize Your Betta Fish?

Betta fish are prone to various diseases and parasite infections. In some conditions, you may notice body color changes or sores. At this point, we put our fish into medication, or if you’ve noticed one fish with the symptoms in the tank, you keep it in the quarantine tank.

However, some infections may have permanently damaged the fish resulting in extended suffering.

Secondly, betta fish may get to old age and have swimming bladder problems or stress. When it gets to this point, the symptoms are irreversible. The best way to save them is euthanasia.

Another cause may be when your betta fish falls sick or gets infected, and you fear it might infect other fish in the aquarium. To prevent the disease from spreading, you need to euthanize it, especially when the disease is strange.

Read: Can betta fish survive without a filter?

Factors to Consider Before Euthanizing Your Betta Fish

You should consider several factors before bidding your fish friend a kind goodbye. Losing it should be the last thing in your mind. Ensure you have tried all the means to save its life until you are left without options. Take a look;

Is it worth euthanizing your betta fish?

Before taking the last step to euthanize your betta fish, you should consult your veterinary doctor. If the fish poses more danger to others, it’s worth euthanizing it.

Secondly, you may have utilized your resources to treat it and determine you’re losing more than the joy you find with your fish.

If you’ve tried your best and gotten enough advice, then it’s worth bidding your betta fish a goodbye.

By consulting a veterinary doctor or other aquarists, you may get a solution to save your fish.

Have you carried out all the requirements for a healthy betta fish environment?

You should have carried out regular care practices to decide it’s time to euthanize my betta fish comfortably.

Ensure water is warmed to the required temperatures, your aquarium filters are functional, and you change the water regularly.

On the other hand, you should figure out if you’ve been feeding your fish with quality food and regular cleaning of the tank.

If you have done all this, now figure out in your mind and determine if to euthanize your fish.

Has your betta fish lost its will to fight the disease?

If you see the fish fluttering around and fraying its gills and fins, there is hope that it’s doing well. However, if you notice it has settled down on the tank with fins clamped, it’s suffering.

Any time you notice the fish is inactive despite the medications, know that your efforts aren’t yielding fruits. At this point, you may decide whether to euthanize it.

Read: Can a betta fish survive without a heater

bokeh shot of blue and orange fish

How to Humanely Euthanize a Betta Fish- Best Methods

You should find the best methods to end your betta fish’s life without straining or causing much pain. Without further ado, here are the best methods you can choose;

Method 1: Using Clove Oil

Here is how to euthanize a fish with clove oil.

Required items;

  • A bucket
  • A mixing container
  • Clove oil

Step 1: Fill the bucket with at least one gallon of treated water. Ensure it’s heated to the temperature requirements just as the temperature in the tank.

Step 2: Take your fish out of the tank and add it to the water in the bucket.

Step 3: Fill the mixing bottle halfway with the treated water from the bucket.

Step 4: Add around 4 drops of clove oil to the bottle and thoroughly shake it for the water and oil to mix.

Step 5: Slowly add half of the mixture to the water in the bucket and stir it using your hand. You’ll notice the water turning milky. Stir until it spreads within the whole bucket.

Step 5: The fish will settle at the bottom of the bucket. Observe after five minutes if it’s moving its gills and add the solution.

Step 6: After around 10 minutes, the fish will sleep due to anaesthetic effects. Add about 12 drops of clove oil to the bottle and shake it well. Then, add the whole solution to the bucket.

Step 7: Observe the fish for 30 minutes until the gills stop moving. If still moving, add more clove oil. But if the gills aren’t moving, know that the fish isn’t breathing. It’s already dead.

Step 8: Remove your fish from the water, wrap it well with paper, and dispose of it in the litter bin.

Aquatic life experts believe using clove oil is the best way to euthanize your sick fish comfortably. This is due to its anaesthetic effects that meet ethical standards.

Read: Are betta fish OK in the dark

blue and white bird on brown tree branch

Method 2: Using Alcohol

Here is how to euthanize a fish with vodka.

Required items;

  • A bucket
  • A mixing bottle
  • Clove oil
  • Vodka

Using alcohol alone is inhuman because it burns fish gills and causes suffering before death. As such, you should consider using clove oil first to make the fish sleep and then add vodka.

Step 1: Fill the bucket with treated water and heat to the required temperature.

Step 2: Take the betta fish out of the aquarium and put it into the bucket.

Step 3: Fill the mixing bottle halfway with the treated water and add 4 drops of clove oil. Then, shake for the oil to mix with water.

Step 4: Slowly add the mixture to the bucket while stirring with one hand until it dissolves in the whole bucket.

Step 5: After 5 minutes, the fish will have settled at the bottom of the bucket. Check if the gills are moving to determine whether it’s asleep.

Step 6: Measure your vodka in a separate container. Ensure the ratio of vodka to water is 1:4 because a higher concentration may cause a painful death.

Step 7: Pour the vodka into the bucket and stir. The fish will die immediately.

Step 8: Once you notice the fish laying will gills not moving, know it’s already dead. Wrap it and dispose of it.

Read: Is dropsy painful for bettas?

Method 3: Using Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate is one of the best ways to euthanize a betta fish by reducing the oxygen concentration in the water.

Although many people don’t like using the carbon dioxide method, it takes a few minutes for the fish to die. Luckily, it doesn’t cause additional pains by burning the fish gills.

Here is how to euthanize a fish with baking soda.

Required items;

  • Baking soda
  • A spoon
  • Water bucket

Step 1: Measure one gallon of treated water and pour it into the bucket.

Step 2: Take your fish out of the tank and put it into the bucket.

Step 3: Pour 3 teaspoons of baking soda into the bucket and stir until it fully dissolves.

Step 4: Sodium bicarbonate will start releasing carbon dioxide, which quickly replaces the oxygen in the water. You’ll notice the fish settled at the bottom of the bucket.

Step 5: After five minutes, you’ll notice the fish tilting on one side of its body or laying with its belly up. Check if the gills are moving.

Step 6: After the fish is dead, wrap it with organic paper and dump it in the trash.

Method 4: Hitting and Stubbing

The other quickest way to euthanize a fish without much pain is hitting and stubbing it. Although it may seem inhuman, it’s less painful if done correctly.

Required items;

  • A sharp knife
  • A blunt object

Step 1: Take your fish out of the tank and place it on the aluminum foil.

Step 2: Wrap it with aluminum foil to prevent blood and brain from flying.

Step 3: Aim at the head and hit as hard as possible. The fish will be unconscious, thus feeling less pain.

Step 4: Immediately take the sharp knife and pierce through the brain to kill it. The brain is located behind the eyes. So, ensure you aim to pierce at once not to cause much pain to your fish friend.

Step 5: Properly dispose of the fish in the trash but don’t dispose of it in the rivers or the aquarium to prevent disease spread.

FAQs on Euthanizing a Betta Fish

What is the Most Humane Way to Euthanize a Fish?

The most humane way to euthanize a fish is decapitation. It involves separating the head from the body using a sharp knife. On the other hand, most aquarists prefer physically destroying the brain using a blunt object.

The method is very humane because once the fish is hit, it becomes unconscious, and the body becomes less sensitive to pain. Afterwards, it’s advisable to stab through the brain to fasten its death.

What to Do if Fish is Dying?

If you notice your fish has some signs of dying, carry out the following practices before making the final decision to euthanize it;

– Check the water quality

You should invest in a good water conditioner to ensure your water is de-chlorinated. Chlorine in water may burn fish gills and result in death. Secondly, check if the water is clean. Other impurities like heavy metals may affect your fish. Third, confirm the water PH is at the required level. Usually, betta fish require a PH of 7.0.

– Check the water temperature

Ensure the water heater is functional because fish breeds like betta are very sensitive to temperature changes. Any slight temperature drop may result in death. On the other hand, make sure the water is heated to the recommended temperature before adding your fish.

– Check the fish’s food

Betta fish are carnivorous. For that reason, they require quality food to give their bodies enough nutrients. Once you notice some dying signs on your fish, check on the food quality or contact the food manufacturer.

– Call the veterinary doctor

A veterinary doctor will offer treatment or advise you on whether to euthanize your fish. However, most diseases are curable if you notice and take action before they worsen.

Do Fish Suffer When they are Dying?

Fish do feel pain when dying. If you plan to suffocate them, know that they will undergo a painful experience before they die. It’s for this reason that flushing them is not recommended. You only need to euthanize them in a less painful and fastest way possible.

When Should I Euthanize my Fish?

You should consider euthanizing your fish if they are infected with an incurable disease. Secondly, if your fish poses a danger of transmitting the disease to others, you should euthanize it. Third, if you have exhausted all your treatment resources and lack other options to save the fish from pain, euthanize it after consulting a veterinary doctor.

Betta fish diseases, conditions, or parasitic infections are curable in most cases. You should exhaust all your means to save your fish friend before euthanizing it.

However, in cases of old age or where you fear they might risk other fish’s health, you’ll have to euthanize them. But be sure to follow the appropriate procedures to humanely euthanize a betta fish to save it from pain. 

Read: Why is my fish swimming sideways after water change?


The Humane Society of the United States: EUTHANASIA REFERENCE MANUAL

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