One of the saddest things that a fish owner would have to face is preparing to send off their beloved betta. As grim as it might sound, we nevertheless still have to know how to euthanize a betta fish for us to be able to send them off painlessly and humanely.
Luckily, there are multiple ways that you can painlessly euthanize a betta fish, such as through clove oil and compound chemicals such as MS-222.
But knowing how to euthanize a fish is just the beginning of it, though, as there are so many things that you have to keep in mind before you contemplate this heavy decision. This article will discuss everything you need to know about humanely euthanizing your betta fish.
When Should You Euthanize A Betta Fish? Factors To Consider
Deciding to euthanize your Betta fish is definitely hard, which is why you should only do so when it is absolutely necessary.
Euthanizing your sick fish should only be done as a last resort and only when the quality of their life has significantly deteriorated to the point where euthanasia is the most humane option. There’s no situation where you should euthanize a healthy fish.
There are several factors that you need to take into consideration before deciding whether or not to humanely euthanize Betta fish.
Quality Of Life
Euthanizing Betta fish falls in the category of quality of life euthanasia, which means that the primary factor to consider is the quality of life that your fish is currently experiencing.
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might want to consider euthanasia for your Betta fish.
Another factor that you need to consider is the age of your Betta fish.
Generally, younger fish have a higher chance of recovering from illnesses than older ones. That’s because their bodies are still strong and have a good chance of fighting off the infection.
If your Betta fish is a few years old and sick, their bodies may no longer be able to fight off the infection or disease, no matter how much treatment you give them.
Additionally, older Betta fish are more prone to developing age-related illnesses and might not have the same quality of life as they did when they were younger.
Betta splendens typically live for 3-5 years, so if your Betta fish is sick and are already nearing the end of its lifespan, you may consider euthanasia.
Progression Of Illness
You also need to take into consideration the progression of your Betta fish’s illness.
If one fish has a fatal disease and the illness is progressing quickly with slim to no chances of surviving, euthanasia might be the best option.
On the other hand, if your Betta fish doesn’t seem to have a fatal disease and the illness is progressing slowly with a chance of recovery, you might want to give your ill fish a chance to fight it off.
Some Betta illnesses that are difficult to cure on your own or at home are:
- Advanced fin rot
- Severe swim bladder disease
- Late stage tumors
- Intestinal parasites
- Acute bacterial infection
- Organ failure, such as kidney failure
Dropsy, in particular, is a death sentence most of the time. One of the telltale signs of dropsy is pineconing. This is a sign that Betta’s organs are already shutting down. While some Betta fishes may have a small chance of surviving dropsy, it almost always comes back, this time for good.
If your Betta has any of these illnesses, it’s best to seek professional help from a veterinarian who specializes in fish. Otherwise, euthanasia may be the only humane option.
Cost Of Treatment
Another factor that you need to consider is the cost of treatment. Fish keeping can be an expensive hobby, and an experienced fish keeper knows that. However, some treatment methods are much more expensive than others.
There are some Betta diseases that can be easily cured with over-the-counter medication, while there are others that require expensive treatment, such as surgery.
If you feel like you can’t afford the treatment or if the treatment methods are not working, you may have to euthanize a Betta fish.
How To Euthanize A Betta Fish Humanely
Euthanasia should only be done as a last resort and when all other options have been exhausted. If you do need to euthanize your Betta, you need to make sure that you do it humanely.
After all, there are many ways to euthanize a small fish, but not all of them are humane. Some are considered humane ways but risky to do.
For example, the stab method is a surefire way of euthanizing fish, but a fish keeper who loves their fish may not be comfortable with it.
Today, the two most humane ways that fishkeepers euthanize their Betta are the following:
The most effective and humane method to euthanize your Betta fish is by using the essential clove oil method.
This is a natural anesthetic and will cause your Betta fish to fall asleep before they die. You can find clove oil in health food stores and even online shops.
When you use clove oil on your Betta, they will just fall asleep and not wake up again. They won’t feel a thing – there’s no pain, confusion, or fear.
To euthanize your Betta fish with the clove oil method, you will need the following supplies:
- A small container
- Clove oil
- Distilled water
- 1-gallon container
- A small funnel (optional)
- First, you need to add clove oil to a small container, like a jar or a cup. The amount of clove oil you need will depend on the size of the jar or cup. For a small jar or cup, you will need about 1 teaspoon of clove oil. For a large jar or cup, you will need about 2 tablespoons of clove oil.
- Next, add distilled water to the jar or cup. The amount of distilled water you need will also depend on the size of the jar or cup. You will need about 1 cup of distilled water for a small jar or cup or 2 cups for a larger one.
- Stir the solution until the clove oil has been fully mixed with the water.
- If you are using a glass jar, you can pour the euthanasia solution directly into the jar. If you are using a cup, you will need to use a small funnel to pour the euthanasia solution into the cup.
- Once the clove oil mixture is ready, take the 1-gallon container and transfer your Betta into it.
- Pour a third of the clove oil mixture into the 1-gallon container with your Betta in it.
- Your pet fish should start getting sleepy. The fish’s breathing will slow down, and you’ll see it stop moving. After 2 minutes, add another third of the clove oil mixture.
- At this point, your Betta should already be unconscious. After another 2-3 minutes, add the last third of the euthanasia solution.
- Allow your Betta fish to remain in the container for at least 5 minutes. This will ensure that your Betta is fully unconscious before they die.
- After 5 minutes have passed, check the fish’s gills. If 10 minutes have passed and there’s no gill movement, you can now humanely dispose of your Betta.
The best way to dispose of your Betta is to bury them in the ground or even just a potted plant. Don’t flush them down the toilet, as this is inhumane and can potentially spread impurities in the water. If your Betta died of a contagious disease, it could even spread the disease around.
Another humane way to euthanize your Betta fish is by using compound chemicals. Compound chemicals are typically used by veterinarians and are much more effective than clove oil. However, they are also much more expensive and can be difficult to find.
If you do choose to euthanize your Betta fish using compound chemicals, you will need to use a euthanasia solution that contains at least 1 gram of tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222) per liter of water.
MS-222 is a type of anesthetic that can be used to euthanize cold-blooded animals, like reptiles, amphibians, and fish. This white powder will cause your Betta to fall asleep before passing away, ensuring a painless, humane death.
How to Humanely Euthanize A Betta Fish Without Clove Oil
If you don’t have clove oil or don’t want to use it, there are still other ways that you can euthanize your Betta fish humanely.
The best way is to use a euthanasia solution that contains at least 1 gram of tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222) per liter of water. As mentioned above, the only downside to this method is that this compound can be fairly expensive and hard to find. However, it works just as well.
To euthanize your Betta fish using MS-222, you will need the following supplies:
- A small container
- Distilled water
- A small funnel (optional)
- Like the clove oil method, your first step is adding MS-222 to a small container like a cup or jar. The amount of MS-222 you need will depend on the size of the small container. For a small jar or cup, you will need about 1 teaspoon of MS-222. For a large one, you will need about 2 tablespoons of MS-222.
- Then, in a jar or cup, add some distilled water. The amount of distilled water you’ll need is determined by the size of the jar or cup. You need approximately 1 cup of distilled water for a small jar or cup and approximately 2 cups for a big container.
- Stir the MS-222 and distilled water together until the MS-222 is fully dissolved.
- If you’re using a glass jar, just pour the euthanasia solution directly into it. If you have a cup, use a tiny funnel to draw the euthanasia solution into it.
- Place your Betta fish gently in the jar or cup once the MS-222 has fully dissolved. Your Betta’s head should be above the solution when you put him in.
- Allow your Betta fish to soak in the euthanasia solution for at least 5 minutes. This will ensure that your Betta is completely unconscious before they pass away. The fish’s breathing should start slowing down.
- After 5 minutes, check to see if the fish’s gills are still moving. There should be no gill movement for 10 minutes.
- Remove your Betta from the euthanasia solution and dispose of it in a humane manner.
How NOT To Euthanize Betta Fish
There are many ways that people try to euthanize a Betta fish, but some of these methods are actually inhumane. Here are some of the ways you should NOT euthanize your Betta fish:
Flushing Them Down The Toilet
This is probably the most common way people try to euthanize their Betta fish, but it is actually very inhumane. When you flush a Betta fish down the toilet, they can suffer for up to 8 minutes before they become a dead fish.
There’s a common misconception that putting tropical fish like Betta fish in the freezer will euthanize them quickly and painlessly. Similar methods include putting them in ice water or ice crystals and giving them an ice water bath.
However, this is not true. Although an ice bath may kill warm water fish like Bettas, it’s not a reliable method for euthanizing fish.
When a Betta fish is frozen, they suffer for several minutes before dying. It’s a slow death and an inhumane way to euthanize fish. This is because the freezing process takes time to work, and you’re keeping the fish alive for a few minutes while in pain.
Some people think that if they put their Betta fish in a plastic bag and then tie it shut, the Betta will suffocate and die quickly.
However, this is not a great way to humanely kill live fish. In fact, this method is actually very cruel. It can take up to 10 minutes for a Betta to suffocate in a plastic bag, and during that time, they will experience a great deal of pain. Fish suffer with this method, so it’s definitely not an option.
Taking Them Out Of The Water
Lastly, some say that you can simply take the aquarium fish from its fish tank and wait for it to die.
Sadly, this is also not a humane method and is very cruel. It can take up to 15 minutes for a small fish like a Betta to suffocate when taken out of the aquarium water, and they will feel every second of it.
Euthanizing our betta fish is indeed a difficult decision, but as responsible owners, we must be ready for all eventualities that we might need to face. Now that you know how to euthanize a betta fish, you could at least send off your suffering fish peacefully, should it be needed.
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