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Euthanizing


sandy

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Not a subject anyone wants to ponder on but one that still needs to be answered. Everyone has a different view on what they should or shouldnt do.

I dont know if its in the right place, but hopefully it will be put somewhere where everyone has easy access to it.

I took this from another forum, with i might add the authors permission and thought i would share it with as wide an audience as possible and hope that if the sad day ever rises that you should need guidance, then i hope you will take what Rachel has written below and use it to guide you.

*As a biologist and lifetime animal keeper the subject of euthanasia is one that, sadly, has cropped up occasionally, and I've posted on the subject of fish euthanasia in a couple of places before. In my opinion, the question of which method to use on fish is too often 'which is easiest for me' rather than 'which is easiest for my fish'. I apologise in advance if readers find this post a little graphic - I have tried to be as clear as I can - because it's important to understand what you are doing. The most common methods I've heard mentioned are:

1. Just flushing the fish away. This is easy for the keeper, and the fish will *eventually* die. Probably from shock, chlorine poisoning or anoxia, if it survives that then it may get macerated in a processing machine or die in a toxic settling tank. As you may be able to tell, I don't see this as a valid option for a single instant!

2. Freezing or boiling. Of these two, freezing is probably slower (depends on the size of the fish) and is easier for the fish keeper since they don't have to watch. Slow freezing in water is the commonest method. What many people don't realise is that freezing a live animal in a domestic freezer is slow enough to allow large ice crystals to form in the tissues (eyes, brain) and that this may well happen before the fish dies. Fish are poikilothermic, and do not become unconscious when hypothermic like mammals (i.e. people) do. We do not know how painful this process is for a fish (although we know it is extremely painful in humans!). We do not know much about fish consciousness, or whether the fish is aware of freezing to death. Personally, I don't much like this one either...

3. Simple decapitation. This is another difficult one - it's not simple to do (for the fish keeper) and the fish head and brain can live for up to an hour after separation from the body (a talent they share with snakes).

4. Stunning, and destruction of the brain. This is effective, can be fast if done carefully and sympathetically, and works for even large fish. For small fish the brain can be destroyed by mashing the head (really flat, sorry to be so graphic) using a brick, rolling pin etc. and a stone step or floor. For larger fish you can wrap the body in a cloth for grip, stun the fish by whacking it hard on a stone step or with a rolling pin and then destroy the brain using the point of a sharp knife inserted into the head. Wiggle the knife tip about to make sure the brain is completely destroyed while the fish is unconscious.

5. Alcohol poisoning - alcohol is an irritant and very toxic to fish, causing bleeding from the gills before death. Fish do not become paralytically drunk as we would. Alcohol exposure appears to kill fish rapidly but I am not aware of any research into it's effects or whether it is humane.

6. Anaesthetic overdose. Without a doubt this is the most humane method I know of. Like any other pet, a large fish deserves respect as an organism, and if you know the fish must be euthanased, talk to your vet. The recommended anaesthetic for fish euthanasia is tricaine methanesulphonate. Since it tends to reduce pH it is used as a bath immersion at 300mg/litre buffered with 600mg/litre sodium bicarbonate. Once the fish appears to be dead the brain should be destroyed as in no. 4 above.

7. Clove oil. Since clove oil is an anaesthetic it should really be listed with other anaesthetics, but it differs in that it is available from pharmacies to the general public, and as such can be kept in your fish medicine cabinet. Clove oil contains eugenol (the sedative/anaesthetic chemical). Unfortunately, it is not soluble in water so prepare it as follows: mix 2-3ml clove oil with 8ml vodka (makes a milky suspension), pour into a clean bucket and add 1 gallon tank water and stir gently. Transfer your fish to this bucket and wait. This is a lethal concentration of eugenol, which will first induce anaesthesia and then death. If you need to use a stronger mixture use more clove oil but no more vodka as the alcohol will cause bleeding and irritation to your fish.

I have used clove oil euthanasia several times for my own fish and other peoples', and am happy that it causes minimal distress and works well. I wait until the fish is dead (no gill movement, no response to touch), then wait another hour, then either destroy the brain or freeze the remains (depending on the size of fish) to be absolutely sure.

Final note, in my opoinion any keeper of animals has a responsibility to think about their options for euthanasia should it become necessary, prepare themselves mentally and keep any necessary equipment on hand. If you don't feel you can do this yourself, that's fine: but you probably know someone who can. Remember that the most humane farewell to an old friend becomes a torture if it is delayed several hours for research or a trip to the pharmacy.*

Rachel Taylor.

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Guest squeeker

That was a very good article. I have read similar reports put out by veterinarian societies. I agree that it should be pinned.

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Guest deedeesue

I did actually use clove oil not too long ago for my mother's inbreed, sick swordtails. She was going to flush them and take down her tank. :cry1 So I had to intervene. :(

I added 10 drops clove oil to 4 cups tank water. I added the fish one by one, and they peacefully swam for a few seconds, then rested on the bottom until they stopped breathing.

It was hard to do, but it was very effective and the fish appeared not to be in any distress.

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Guest msdobson

In response to Rachel's informative posting, "6. Anaesthetic overdose. Without a doubt this is the most humane method I know of." A product often used to euthanize fish within the industry is called "Finquil". I am not sure if it is available to the general public, however it has been used by us for many years.

I agree with Rachel's disdain for freezing, along with just about everything else.

Cheers to all.

Michael

Aquatics Specialist

mmm Folsom, CA

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Guest FreeTheBubbles

Omg that's so sad to read! Of course I know it's useful and informative, but the thought of destroying a fish with a rolling pin... :cry1

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  • 4 weeks later...
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someone told me once about using quick-dissolve akla-seltzer tablets in a small amount of aquarium water and cover the bucket or glass as airtight as possible. they said the release of cabon dioxide would make the fish unconscious and euthanize realtively quickly and painlessly.

has anyone else ever heard of this? and of course delete this post if it's total bunk or doesn't work the way my friend said it did. thankfully, i haven't had to test it out yet.

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sadly, its a subject none of us like to talk about but will visit nearly everyone in time. what she said i just couldnt let slip by and thought it may be helpfull for any poor soul needing to help a fish pass on. I know i couldve done with it in the past.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I just had to euthanize one of my fish *tear* i cried for awhile, but she was better off. SBD... I used the clove oil, with whiskey since i had no vodka. It was good. She just kinda relaxed and went to sleep.

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I'd like to ask those that flush live fish down the toilet why you think its fast? If you think about it its the most cruellest way to kill your pet. It may be the least stressful to you but that fish has to go through the flush and then get swept along by the water through many miles of pipes in god knows what filth and if its still unluckily enough to be alive when it gets to the processing plant, get burned by the treatments.

Think about the fish and not yourself, give your pet some dignity.

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Guest deedeesue

Sorry about your fish Sorsha.

I have to agree with Sandy and Tinkerbell....

I think flushing live fish is horrible, :badidea

Clove oil is VERY effective and humane.

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clove oil the least painful, but the needle in the brain/head (iki jimi method) is the fastest i think. no need to wiggle the needle/knife to destroy the brain, just a sharp trust and 1 second later the fish is dead.

i think i got a post about this iki jimi method deleted a few days ago. pls tell me if it's a forbidden topic, so next time i don't write about it anymore. :ignore

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QUESTION: Is clove bud oil the same thing as Clove oil? That's what they had at Whole foods (I can't remember the brand... I returned it since my frog died without it, but I will look at the store if it helps) - It was pure clove bud oil. Thanks.

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Guest deedeesue

Mine says "clove bud" oil. I think I remember the clerk telling me it was stronger or more pure or something... I just don't remember. I do know that it worked.

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Well I just wanted to say how grateful I was for this information on Monday when I had to help our poor fish. It was almost like having someone here helping me through.

It's not something anyone wants to deal with, but when you need it for the sake of your fish, when there is no other choice than this or letting them suffer ..... well, I for one am grateful this has been pinned.

I hated doing it and literally had to force myself, but I used the clove oil and whiskey and it was all over in seconds like Deedeesue says, and very peaceful for the fish.

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Guest cutmores

:( Thank you so much for taking the time to describe the best way to put a much loved friend out of their misery. We have 2 goldfish and a week ago one of them becam very unwell we have been treating her with everything the pet shops sujested but all in vain, 4 days ago her right eye ballooned up she was not eating a bumping into everything but most of the time lay at the bottom.

With your advice my husband and I bought some clove oil tonight and with a llot of tears put her out of her misery.

Once agaon thank you for making a painfull process easier.

Many thanks

Leanne :(:(:(

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