There comes a time in every aquarist's life when a fish that can no longer recover from disease or injury must be euthanized. This is no easy task, but it can be done humanely and peacefully without stress to fish or aquarist. The best method is a two-step process. First, anesthetize the fish with clove oil so that it is sleeping and unable to feel pain; then introduce a clear grain alcohol like vodka to ensure the fish will not wake up.
This method is commonly misrepresented as mixing clove oil and vodka together. That is incorrect. Clove oil must be introduced first, allowing the fish to fall asleep before introducing vodka. Vodka will be stressful for a fish that is not anesthetized.
Clove oil, or eugenol, is available at most drug stores and is sold as a toothache remedy. It has been used for years as a fish anesthetic for surgeries and tagging procedures. Clove oil will put a fish to sleep and ensure it feels no pain. The fish can wake up from this sleep if removed from the clove bath, however. The last step of adding the vodka will ensure the fish expires.
For fish up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length, some simple steps can be followed. The fish's owner should add some tank water to a measuring cup or mixing bowl. The amount of tank water added to the cup or bowl should be measured and a note of it made. The fish should then be placed in the container. If the fish is in a clear cup, a dark towel placed around the cup may calm the fish.
The owner should next fill a small, clean jar or bottle with tank water, leaving some room at the top. A baby food jar or pill bottle can work well for this. He should then add 1 drop of clove oil in the jar or bottle, cap it, and shake the jar vigorously. The clove oil should emulsify, turning the water milky white.
About 1/4 of this emulsified mixture should then be poured into the fish's container. The fish will begin listing as it starts to fall asleep. The fish should be allowed to sit for about 10 minutes.
The fish should be resting on the bottom of the tank when it has fallen asleep. It will look dead, but if watched closely, its gills will be breathing once every few seconds. If after 10 minutes the fish is still rising off the bottom and swimming intermittently, the owner should retrieve the jar or bottle of emulsified clove oil, re-shake, and add the same dose to the fish's container. He should wait again for the fish to fall asleep.
Once the fish is asleep on the bottom, 20 to 25% white grain alcohol should be added. For example, if the fish is in 8 oz (240 ml) of water, 2 oz (60 ml) of vodka should be added. The fish should be allowed stay there for at least 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, the fish should be checked carefully for any gill movement. If there is no gill movement over a 60 second period, the fish has expired.
For large fish, the fish should be placed in a bucket or plastic tub with tank water; again, how much tank water is used should be measured. The dose for the mixture in the jar will be 10 drops of clove oil per gallon (3.78 liters). For example, if the fish is placed in 3 gallons (11 liters) of tank water, the jar should be filled with tank water and 10 x 3 = 30 drops of clove oil.
After shaking the jar vigorously, the fish's owner should slowly add the entire mixture to the bucket or tub that contains the fish. It should then be gently mixed in. Once the fish is asleep, the previous instructions for adding 20-25% vodka should be followed.
To eliminate vodka from the procedure and overdose with clove oil alone, the fish should first be put to sleep as stated above, with the owner waiting 10 minutes for the fish to settle on the bottom. A lethal overdose of clove oil is 50 drops per gallon (3.78 liters), or 5x stronger than the initial dose that anesthetizes the fish. Using the same example, if the fish is in 3 gallons (11 liters) of tank water, the jar's lethal mixture will include 50 x 3 = 150 drops of clove oil. It should be administered in the same way, by first shaking the jar before adding the mixture to the fish's container.
Once the entire mixture has been added to the fish's container, the owner should wait a few hours. Finally, he should make sure there is absolutely no gill movement by watching the gills closely for at least 60 straight seconds. If any gill movement is seen, more emulsified clove oil should be added.
Using clove oil alone is not recommended, because even though a fish looks dead it can recover once it has been removed from the bath. Clove oil is a preferred anesthetic precisely because it is hard to overdose a fish with it. Therefore, users should be especially diligent when using clove oil alone, making sure that the fish is really dead. It is much safer to use vodka as the final step.
Unacceptable methods of euthanasia include freezing, chopping, removing the fish from water, or flushing down the toilet. These methods are slow, torturous, stressful, or violent. Clove oil followed by vodka is both inexpensive and humane; the fish goes to sleep and simply doesn't wake up. Hopefully most people will rarely have to perform this task, but when someone does, it's at least comforting to know your fish does not have to suffer.
I just had to do this with my 17 year old goldfish. Thank you for these instructions, they worked perfectly and got the job done without apparent suffering.
Being an avid aquarist, reading this article has been a bizarre experience. I wanted to know more and more, and simultaneously wished never to be in that situation. Your care and compassion for the fish, however, is noble. Great article!
I agree with using less than 1/4. My Betta seemed to be really stressed and grasping when I poured it into the 8 oz I had put him in. Best to gradually pour it in. Luckily, his stress only lasted 10 seconds or so before he stopped moving and then I added more and then the vodka to be safe. Poor little guy.
Thank you for the advice. My goldfish lived for 12 years and grew to be over 8 inches long. He had cheated death many times. He was a feeder fish who we rescued from being used as part of a centerpiece at a college prom. He survived despite my incompetent fish keeping skills, but I’d like to think he was fairly happy for all those years.
In the end, there was no denying his time had come. I followed this method carefully and it seemed go well for him. For the heartless jerks who have replied on this site. I hope others show you more compassion when someone, or something, you have cared for and loved for many years dies. It does take a lot of vodka even for a gallon bucket. I bought him a fifth of Skyy vodka and reserved a shot for myself which I drank as I poured the rest of the bottle into the bucket as he slept.
Poor fishies. I hope I never have to do this.
This method works. I added the vodka then clove oil. Thanks for the tip!
One of my lovely 12" koi damaged his mouth and I used the oil of cloves to sedate him to look at the damage which worked within 10 minutes. The damage was bad and it had ulcerated and he was unable to eat so we continued with the euthanasia stage which also worked well. I did not have vodka so when three of us could not see any gill movement for about three minutes, we wrapped him in cling film placed him in a bag and bumped his head the way you do when fishing. It was not a nice process but I can honestly say the fish was sedated to the point of being handled and showed no signs of knowing about it.
Thank you for posting this. I have just used the alcohol-free method on my Betta and it worked. I was a bit dubious after reading that it wouldn't work on Bettas, but nowhere offered me a more appealing alternative so I tried it.
I made sure I bought 100 percent clove oil and I used tank water to both put my Betta in and mix the clove oil. I used a pan to put him in and put a dark t-shirt over the top, which hopefully helped to keep him calm. He initially wiggled around a bit but he was knocked out pretty fast. Just thought I'd share my experience in case anyone else was in a quandary about Betta euthanasia.
I didn’t want to use this method after reading about all the bad experiences, but my large seven year-old gold fish (6x2 inches) was suffering badly from dropsy, so I decided to go through with it. It worked brilliantly for my fish, so this is what I did, if it helps anybody. I chose the large fish lethal dose rather than the vodka method.
1. I put the fish into his sick tank with 11 litres of tank water.
2. I didn’t have a baby jar so I put 200mls of tank water into an empty 500mls water bottle (relatively the same size of a baby jar), and added 30 drops of clove oil and shook the bottle vigorously. Note: I found it difficult to get the drops out, so I removed the top and used a pipette.
3. I used a black marker to mark the 200mls solution into four quarters and then added one-fourth slowly into the sick tank. Note: I think this is where people are getting it wrong; it's not the whole solution. I stirred the tank gently with my hand but the tank has a pump so that helped mix it quickly. I think an air stone can also be used. He reacted at this stage but the same as he would with me disturbing the tank.
4. I waited 10 minutes, re-shook the bottle and added another one-fourth of the solution.
5. After another 10 minutes he became visibly sleepy but I wanted to make sure, so I added another one-fourth of the solution. After 10 minutes he was completely asleep and not reacting to any stimuli and his gill movement was really slow.
6. I threw the final one-fourth of the solution left down the sink. I refilled the bottle with 200mls of tank water and added 150 drops of clove oil and shook it. I poured the entire 200mls solution into the sick tank.
7. He died soon after that but I left him in the tank for three hours just to be sure. He died so peacefully. He just went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
Thank you so much for writing this article, it took a very heavy burden off my shoulders. I know people say it's just a fish, but if you have the responsibility of ending a life, you want it to be as peaceful as possible. RIP Banger June 2012.
I just tried this method and it worked my for my small fish. I think the people that say this method didn't work were getting measurements wrong. They probably had the fish in too much water to begin with so the clove oil wasn't enough to induce sleep. Also, the clove oil you get at a drugstore that is listed as toothache remedy is only 85 percent clove oil mixed with 15 percent sesame oil. So, I recommend using two drops instead of one if you aren't using 100 percent clove oil.
If you have a small fish, these are the measurements I used for my two inch glofish that had dropsy. I put the fish in 16 ounces of his tankwater. I filled a small pill bottle with tankwater and added two drops of clove oil (85 percent clove oil; 15 percent sesame). I added a generous quarter (or so) helping of this mixture to his tank. He was asleep within minutes and actually appeared dead as I saw no gill movement for several minutes.
But to be safe, I waited 10 minutes like the article recommended and then finished the job with 100 mL of vodka. He passed peacefully. Thanks for writing this article.
I tried this method also, and it did not work well at all. It was a horrible experience for my fish and myself. I had this Oscar for over 10 years and wanted to stop its suffering from hole in the head disease. I used the above dosage given for the clove oil. The fish became very stressed and jumped around, trying to get out of the tank. I am talking about a fish that had been sitting sick at the bottom of his tank for weeks and had not moved. The fish was so stressed that it severely injured itself to the point of bleeding from its head, eye and mouth.
I decided to add more clove oil to put him to sleep, and he lay at the bottom of the tank breathing very hard for more than two hours. I decided to place him in the deep freezer while I guess he was asleep. I really don't think freezing the fish is that bad. All it does is slow its metabolism down until the fish falls asleep. I wish I had followed my first mind to freeze him.
I had a huge Jack Dempsey that got a spot on his fin. I decided the humane thing to do was to put him down. I thought the most humane thing to do would be to just whack it with a hammer but that didn't exactly work. He just laid there twitching with a big wound on his head. I put him back in the tank and he swam around in circles for a while. I looked up ways to do this more humanely and found the vodka approach.
So this time I took him out and poured vodka over him. All he did was flop around even more and gasp a lot. I put him back in and he acted fine for an hour or so until he started floating upside down and swimming around in circles again. I just took him out and gave him to the cat. I guess there's no real way to humanely kill a fish.
It was just trying to escape. However I realize how upsetting this is to watch.
The fish barely moved when I added the clove oil mixture, was clearly in deep sleep very soon after, and did not move at all when I added the vodka. Gill movement ceased almost immediately, but I still waited.
I have a pacu and he is 30 inches long, 2 5inches high, and 15 inches thick! He is 12 yrs old, and on his side on the bottom of the tank, and it looks like blood coming out his mouth. How do you have to do the clove oil? He is big to try to bathe him. Any good suggestions? And yes I care about him so I don't want to hurt him.
One toilet, add fish, close lid and flush. Leave for two to three minutes. Lift lid - fish be gone.
You're all kidding, right? First, never take a fish whose eggs are being laid, if you want your kids to enjoy fishing in future. Make certain by giving a little squeeze. If you see eggs dropping from fish belly, put her back (unless you eat roe). Catch and release once you have all you plan to eat.
Kill humanely by hacking head, with one sure stroke with a cleaver.
As for pets, just hack and flush. Give back the same loyalty the pet showed you when it gave you comfort. One swift whack will do the trick.
I had a gold dust molly that had been having a tough time for several weeks. I tried treating him with Methelene Blue but that didn't help. I then treated my tank with Melafix. His protruding cloud eye went down some but he never ate, stayed at the bottom and was very inactive. He never recovered and started swimming in circles. The fish just struggled at the bottom of my 40 gallon. I waited a few more days, did a good water change and even tried feeding him independently and it was sort of a lost cause.
I read a few weeks back about clove oil and vodka. So I walked across to CVS and bought the Red Cross toothache kit which has clove oil, and a bottle of Smirnoff (for later)... and followed the instructions. He went to sleep, and expired peacefully. Thanks to whoever wrote this up.
I am ashamed of the education these people have received. As a high school junior, even I know that the tale that fish have a two second memory span is a lie, that even though they have small brains they aren't emotionless creatures swimming around aimlessly. They have ganglia and nerves and a heart, just like humans, so why should they die breathless and broken on a concrete floor? You would rather grab a fish and smack it until it does than buy a cheap bottle of vodka? You don't even need to use the whole thing, you cheapskates. If you buy a fish, you should be ready for any and all responsibilities of owning a fish.
I recently used a product I found online called AQUI-S 10 Ornamental Formulation. It worked really well and didn't require any alcohol. I think the active is pretty similar to clove oil. I bought 100 ml and barely used any, maybe 10 ml. Would definitely recommend it.
I just used this method on a fish that had been struggling for three days. I was able to buy clove oil for about $5 at a vitamin store. It worked quickly to anesthetize my serpae tetra, as he was already rather bad off. I added the vodka after 20 minutes and he passed on quickly. It was peaceful. So, I would say if you have a rather ill fish who is barely struggling to begin with, this is a good and peaceful method.
Option 1: 1) Drop fish in toilet; 2) flush
PAN FRIED FISH
1/2-3/4 lb. fish fillets
1/8 lb. butter
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dill weed powder
1 tsp. ground dried lemon peel
Melt butter and butter in a non-stick fry pan - medium heat. When melted, add garlic, dill and lemon peel. Stir well with wooden spoon. Pat fish dry with paper towels and place in fry pan. Using medium to high heat (do not allow seasonings to burn), cook 2-4 minutes until outer edges of fish turn white. Turn fish over and cook until it is easily penetrated with a fork. Serve on plates. Spoon pan leavings over fish.
It is a false claim that fish have a two second memory and do not feel pain. I keep Discus each fish has its own personality and character they are very social fish and they have a good memory. I have had to kill Discus when they have become ill. I find the best way is to turn the light out so the fish goes to sleep. Once the fish is asleep, pull him out with a net, put him in a bag and hit him on the head with a hammer or similar object. The fish will not be scared or feel pain or suffer any longer.
The best way to stop fish getting ill is to have good biological filters that are cleaned on a regular basis and also to do water changes regular. To keep a fish tank and to keep the fish inside it happy and healthy takes a lot of work. I would keep the vodka for your self to down your sorrows after clonking your beloved fish on the head.
You people are murderers! Cold calculating murderers! How can you be so cruel, they are a living, breathing creature.
I was glad to stumble upon this because my betta was practically decaying, and it was so sad. I kept trying to figure out if I should flush him but I felt so guilty knowing he would just suffer more. This way worked well and he passed with no stress just calm and peaceful and I know he didn't suffer once the clove oil kicked in. I think he was so weak that the clove oil might have done the job, but I added some vodka just in case. RIP Petey.
"Fish are our food," huh? You don't deserve your five minutes back, nor does anyone else who left heartless remarks.
This has to be the lamest article I have ever read in my life! Those are five minutes I can never take back!
Fish are fish. They have a two-second memory span. As much pain as you think they feel they only remember the last two seconds of it. They can be in pain for 10 hours but to them it's always two seconds. Fish are our food. Get over it!
To the person who suggested flushing fish down the toilet, flushing a fish while it is still alive is not painless for the fish. The lack of compassion from you is really telling about how much you "care" about your fish (if you have any). For me, the clove oil and vodka approach is the only way I am willing to use to put my fish babies out of their misery.
I used this method for my betta. He had a tumor and it was clear his quality of life was no longer good, he seemed very unhappy and laid on the bottom of his net box 95 percent of the time. I was worried he was in pain and decided it was time.
Unfortunately it didn't work as peacefully as I hoped. It took three full doses (three containers full with the clove oil) for him to stop trying to swim to the surface to breath, thrashing and fighting it. It was horrible and I feel awful for putting him through it. I don't know what I did wrong because I followed directions completely. I'm so sorry my betta had to go through that. Finally after the three doses and almost an hour, he's stopped moving and I see no gill movement at all.
I've added the alcohol just to be safe, and after 5-10 minutes I added a bit extra to be sure. I'll wait half an hour and check him again.
My suggestion: go way way slower than the instructions recommend. Add the clove oil-water mixture in drops, not a whole 1/4 of it, over a much longer period of time. If I have to euthanize another fish I will try this again, but slower in gradual increments.
For expensive Vodka on which a tax has been paid, why not substitute denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or anything toxic to kill the unconscious fish (e.g., bleach). After all, they will not feel pain whatever you do once unconscious. You could even use the clove oil and then decapitate or garbage dispose them.
Don't buy fish and put them in tanks. Don't catch fish and put them in tanks. Don't put any animal in a jail.
They have a better life in nature! Thank you.
Thank you for this method. My goldfish, Lupin, was suffering from Dropsy and was obviously in pain. We put him to sleep using this clove oil method without the vodka. Thanks a bunch. R.I.P Lupin
1) Drop fish in toilet
Is this for real? It's a fish. Who cares?
I find the "vodka" part of the instructions pointless, beyond any speculation of a fish's palate, it is an incredibly expensive option.
I keep a betta sorority tank and the girls are amazingly protective of each other. I found out that one of my cats had figured a way to go fishing, but in response one of my older girls had been charging in and bumping others out of the way, she had three scratches.
Cat scratch infections on fish are almost always deadly. On Emerald she had just about every infection you can imagine, fuzz, sceptic and blisters. The advice I got from the local aquarium store was to just freeze them and, sadly, I didn't think it through. Never consider freezing as an option for Betta. They breathe air and I'm absolutely sure death by brain-freeze is the most painful thing a fish can experience.
Now when I have to put down my fish I net them out into a little punch cup with about 3/4 inch of water in it then slowly add 90 percent isopropyl alcohol until they lose some color, heart death.
I've never had fish survive past a 25 percent concentration but I go all the way to 45 percent, just to be sure. I commonly euthanize small tetras simply by netting them out and putting a drop of hand sterilizer on them. Sure it's not instant but two seconds of twitching is humane enough. Isopropyl is 99 cents per bottle at any store.
This evening I had to euthanize an entire tank, at least all that remained in it; 5 goldfish and 2 loaches. The new goldfish I bought last week brought a bacterial infection. I bought medication and got that under control (lost a few goldfish in the process) and everything seemed fine. Unfortunately the fish developed a secondary fungal infection. I bought medication but after 2 days the fish were looking worse and seemed to be suffering. I had them a long time and it wasn't easy. In case you're wondering, the water was tested and everything was fine.
This may sound barbaric, but the only quick way I could think of euthanizing them was to use the garburator. I know, it's gross but death is almost instantaneous.
I had to put my daughter's goldfish down tonight. It was suffering from dropsy and loosing scales. I did a lot of research and saw the survival statistics. He has been suffering for a while.
Wanting to end the suffering sooner than later and seeing the trouble others had with finding clove oil, I looked for an alternative. I found in my husbands drawer an old bottle of Kanka, which contains benzocaine. In an article regarding anesthesia for animals, benozocaine was used only when needing higher dosage to ensure death.
I would suggest looking up anesthesia and analgesia in laboratory animals, page 526-527.
I mixed about a 1/4 teaspoon with water in a pill bottle and poured it in the container the fish was in. No thrashing -- just stillness for 10 minutes and to be sure I did add about 25 percent vodka. Hope this helps someone.
Just wanted to say thanks to the authors of this site and give a quick update on the sunburst platy that I planned to put to sleep using the clove oil method.
It was a little difficult to locate the clove oil at the couple of pharmacies that I checked, but was eventually able to locate it at a local health food store. I carefully followed instructions and had only put my fish in about 16 oz. of tank water and mixed my clove oil in about a 6 oz. pill bottle (22 oz.) and as there is 128 oz. in a gallon - following the 10 drops of clove oil per gallon of water used- I figured that I was using a little less than a fifth of a gallon. I therefore mixed two drops of the clove oil into my pill bottle/tank water, shook vigorously and started to add it.
Almost as soon as I did so, my fish swam to the top of the cup and seemed to be gasping for air. It could not have lasted more than 5 or 10 seconds. The fish then sank to the bottom and didn't move though I could still detect gill movement. I waited the ten minutes and then decided to overdose on clove oil alone, rather than using the vodka. It was very fast. A matter of a few seconds.
I overdid the overdose and put in 20 emulsified drops instead of only the 10 that should have done the trick. I figured the fish was already asleep so what was the harm in being extra sure.
A very sad event overall, I am again thankful for the information. I feel sorry for the owners whose comments I read that describe it as being ineffective at first. I also raised the temp in the tank to 81 degrees before performing the procedure as I read that temperature is integral for the fish metabolizing the clove oil. maybe that is an important point as well?
Either way, if the unhappy need arises in the future, clove oil is the method I will be using. Thanks a bunch!
I have been keeping tropical fish for about ten years. I was recently cleaning my tank when I realized that I had accidentally trapped my favorite sunburst platy in between my "baby saver" and the side of my tank. Ever since, about a week ago, said platy seems to struggle swimming, balancing, eating, and is now getting picked on by tank mates and spends every unnecessary minute hiding in the castle.
As the situation doesn't seem to be improving, I will be trying the clove oil/alcohol method for the first time. I've only ever had to euthanize one other fish. I did so at that time by adding it to virtually freezing water (which seemed to almost instantaneously and painlessly take effect). I am hoping that my recent and more diligent research this time will ensure a stress-free passing for my little tank buddy and myself.
I see some of the comments on this site include smacking a fish against concrete and the use of blunt force trauma. That is absolutely not for me. I will be diligently following instructions. Wish me luck.
I have a five year old red tail catfish and we are really good pals, But a month ago his whiskers started to rip off without reason.
Now his skin is rotting away and he barely can take a breath through his gashed gills. I've tried medicating the infection but I think it's too late. I don't know if I should keep on hoping he'll get better or rid him of his misery. However humane it seems I just can't kill my pal.
I had to put down my betta today. He had a bacterial infection with fungus over a month ago, which he healed from, then fell sick again rapidly with no external signs. I tried treating him again, but after two weeks of eating and resting on his silk plant, he stopped eating. He lived for two more weeks-breathing rapidly at the bottom of the tank, not able to control his swimming and trips to the top for air.
Finally, he was tearing up his underside when he sunk down from breathing. I kept hoping he'd pass naturally, but he didn't seem to want to. It was awful. He was so sick and ill. I put him in a glass, added two drops of clove oil in some water slowly. He did swim frantically for less than 10 seconds, but no more so "agitated" then normal as he had obvious balance/swim bladder issues. He died within about five minutes.
We put him in the freezer to make absolutely sure, but his gills stopped altogether after about three minutes. I felt horrible, but I have felt this way throughout the two weeks he hasn't eaten and has been suffering.
I've never had a betta die this slowly, and I am thankful for ending his pain.
Thanks for this information. I used this method with a neon tetra that was beyond hope. I went to the store and bought a few of those 50 ml bottles and a bottle of clove bud oil. I put him in 7 oz of tank water, added the emulsified clove oil and he almost immediately stopped moving. After 20 minutes I added one 50 ml bottle of the vodka but I think it was already dead by then. Thanks for helping me put an easy end to the fish's suffering.
I just had to put my Beta to sleep. My husband cleaned his tank and somehow injured him by mistake.
It was a struggle for him to swim and he was mainly sinking and on the ground. I did get the pure clove oil from Whole Foods and have to say it was hard watching him. i did everything as instructed and he was jumping around like mad, trying to jump out.
I added more (the whole bottle in the end) and waited 20 minutes.
When i took him out he suddenly started gasping and moving. I was so shocked.
I put him back in again, and after crying for a little while, put icecubes and Vodka in.
I buried him in my yard, but just like most of you, i feel like a murderer.
I can't even believe how attached you get. Well R.I.P Carlos. You were loved!
this whole article is absolutely pointless. Fish, don't have complex nervous systems like that of mammals. that is why they can swim around with half their fin rotted off and not feel it.
The best way, most efficient way of euthanize a fish to just grab it go out to your driveway and smack it as hard as you can on the concrete. It is instant death (within milliseconds, in the time it takes it to hit the cement), it is cheap(free)and efficient. I have been euthanizing my sick fish like this for years.
My baby Anubis recently became bloated and pineconed within the last couple of days. Tonight I just used the information on this site to euthanize Anubis. I followed each steps word by word and the process worked. I suggest to those who claim that it didn't work to read the entire article word for word. It does work. So thanks for sharing the information. Anubis is no longer suffering any more.
I have lost several fish. The Betta died after thrashing around for several days and not eating. Hard to watch. Now I put them in a small container with their aquarium water. Have the cold tap running and the garbage disposal on. Pour fast. It is fast and you don't have to put them in the blender and see it all. I was considering clove oil but after reading these, I'm afraid to.
I would like to add that it is much more effective to place a small amount of (enough to cover the fish) and add 15-20 drops to it. Shake well and add the fish, which will pass quickly and without the need to add vodka which causes severe burns to the gills and internal membranes - not a nice way to die! Especially if not enough clove oil is used to fully subdue the fish!
Mixing clove oil into a gallon of water is a very risky way to attempt to euthanize a fish, as is simply adding drops to the tank the fish is in!
Everyone here who has said the procedure didn't work was trying to euthanize the fish in its bowl! Follow the instructions to the letter to avoid causing unnecessary stress and suffering!
I was dreading doing this but, as heartbreaking as it was for me, it seemed to be completely stress free for the fish. The clove oil seemed to work straight away. The vodka took slightly longer than I expected it to, but it now appears to have had the desired effect. At least he didn't appear to suffer, no darting around or anything, just went straight to sleep. Thanks for this advice.
The clove oil worked almost immediately. I waited ten minutes like it said, and added the vodka. the gills moved every like minute and 15 seconds after 25 minutes so i added more of the oil mixture to make sure it wouldn't wake up and added two more ounces of vodka. Within ten minutes the fish was gone. Thank you very much. my fish had been suffering for way too long.
Thank you very much for the advice. Our mickey mouse platy had been sick for awhile and after several medication treatments, no luck. Very peaceful, we did exactly what you said to do. She seemed to fall asleep within minutes and after adding the vodka she passed within a minute. I would definitely recommend this method and I believe in it. Thank you.
Thank you for your article which was a godsend for me. I watched helplessly for almost one year as my fish went into decline: first dropsy, then swim bladder disease, and finally a large black lesion on its face. (cancer?) It broke my heart.
I finally got the courage to let him go. At first, the local pet store owner foolishly told me to overdose my fish on Melafix. It was wrong. The poor fish only became more agitated to the point that I frantically drove to six drug stores at 9 p.m. at night, only to no avail. Finally a man told me to go to Whole Foods. There is was: clove bud oil (not the one with alcohol in it-be careful to get the right one-100 percent clove bud oil).
I can now say that I feel relieved that we are both not suffering. I will tell everyone about this. Thank you and God bless you!
For those who didn't like this method, your local vet or aquaculture supply company should have something called MS 222 (Finquel or Tricaine Methosulfate) which in high doses will cause death. Barring that, baking soda can be used in a pinch -- same idea as alka seltzer without the effervescence, which is probably traumatic and painful to a fish.
Of course, nothing is quite as sure as decapitation but it takes a certain constitution to first stun a fish then finish the deed, but the stun ensures a minimal amount of pain in the event of a botched or hesitant cut.
Thank you for this. My comet of 4.5 years had been sick for a few weeks and nothing seemed to be helping. There was a tiny struggle, for a few seconds, but soon he was asleep and I poured the vodka in. Dead.
Yeah. My eel jumped out of the tank and when i found it, it was half alive. I put it back in the water and had to watch it helplessly for a good 30 minutes. Minute after minute more and more things stopped working. Then after a while everything just stopped. What could I have done to help it? It was a spiny eel and apparently certain types of species of this type can breathe air.
This did not work for my Betta. My fish had dropsy or liver cancer (very bloated, couldn't swim upright, eating very little, mostly on bottom of tank). The amount of clove oil was described. I started with one drop and the fish became agitated. I added over 10 drops of clove oil to the 1 gallon fish bowl and fish became more and more panicked trying to swim to top for oxygen.
I gave up and poured in 1/4 bottle of vodka and he was dead within seconds. I will never try the clove oil again. Just wanted to warn others because it was painful for the fish I'm sure and it didn't make me feel very good either!
I have always hesitated when eating fish because of how seafood is harvested. Basically, when commercial fishing boats haul in their catch, the fish must die by suffocation, I assume. This has always seemed to me a nasty way to die. Yet, I cannot think of a humane and efficient way to kill them.
(Apologies to those for whom eating any fish is an unacceptable thing.)
I had to put down my betta because he had ich, velvet, and his fins were rotting off. I didn't do any research, but instead fed him one last meal of bloodworms and then gave him the chop. I severed his spine with the first chop and then decapitated him. Do you think he felt any pain?
I didn't think I would feel bad about it but I do. Next time (hopefully never again) I will try this method.
my fish freaked out when i put the vodka in! it was lying quietly until i poured in the vodka. now I'm making an appointment with my therapist.
Don't know much about fish but I would imagine that oils are the same thing to fish as they are to humans. Clove oil especially is a very powerful oil.
I make homemade mouthwash and in a cup and a half of mouthwash, there are only two drops of clove oil and that makes it spicy (original recipe calls for only 1 drop).
After a while though, you get this great numbing, tingling feeling in your mouth. It's a natural pain killer. Too much at a time is just going to burn your fish (you shouldn't even put one drop on your own skin because it will burn and cause a rash or reaction, you use a carrier oil to apply to your skin).
The one drop and stir every few mins might help if you are afraid of a traumatic experience for you both. And by the way, the fish doesn't go to sleep, he's just completely numb.
Thanks for the help. I had two goldfish that were sitting at the bottom of the tank for a few weeks, and they didn't recover from treatment. So I used a lethal dose of clove oil and vodka to ensure that they wouldn't wake up and that it was almost impossible for them not to pass.
Very peaceful method, they didn't panic, didn't struggle, acted just like normal only within a few minutes of applying the clove oil they were asleep.
I have had a "feeder fish" goldfish for the past 15 years. We have gone through a lot together! Over the last few months she developed a large abscess on her butt.
Like I said we have been through a lot, and she is a survivor, and she was okay with it for awhile but lately it has gotten so large she can barely swim and just floats at the top the tank. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want her to suffer any longer or any greater.
I was worried about doing the clove method with her since she is now a very large "koi" fish. I followed the measurements exactly. The clove put her right to sleep (she of course is floating at the top not the bottom) 10 min. later I added the vodka (a whooping 12 oz.) It has now been 10 min. and she is still breathing! I am debating to add more vodka but am worried it will hurt her. I will wait another 10 minutes. She is still alive! I am going to add more. 4oz more added. She just needed another shot. She has passed on.
This was very hard for me to do but I have to say I am glad she is no longer in pain and that I didn't appear to cause her any more suffering.
After watching our 12 year old parrot fish suffer for the past few weeks with dropsy and struggling to breathe, we made a family decision to put him to sleep. I put him in a bucket with 5 1/2 litres of tank water. I filled a baby food jar with tank water and added 15 drops of clove oil. Shook it well and then added it slowly to the bucket.
Our fish did not struggle and went to sleep within the 10 minutes. We then emptied some water out of the bucket so that it had only had 1.65 litres in it and added 20 percent vodka which was approx. 330 ml. I feel our fish went peacefully.
Thank you for this article. It helped make a very hard thing to do a little bit easier.
Quite opposite to what you said, my biology teacher who specialized in aquatic animals said that she used alka seltzer to knock fish out and follow it up with decapitation or freezing.
I've just had to put my Goldfish Lizzie to sleep, I've had her for twelve years and she finally got an illness that couldn't be cured despite my best efforts.
For the last two weeks she just was at the bottom of the tank upside down and couldn't move or eat and her eyes were clouding over and didn't respond to any medicine. I agonised over how to 'put her down' and then I found your advice on this site.
I added the clove oil/tank water mixture a bit at a time in the bucket until she went to sleep after about fifteen minutes with no struggle at all, then I added the vodka and she didn't move at all. It was very peaceful and Lizzie didn't appear to suffer, thank you so much for giving this advice. I'll bury my Lizzie tomorrow.
I just used this method and I have to say, although it worked, I believe it was not as peaceful as stated. When I added the clove oil solution to the water my poor little molly instantly became agitated and began to swim erratically for about 15-20 seconds before she finally passed. The alcohol was not needed.
Later I applied a drop of the clove oil on my own skin, testing its other uses, and found that almost instantly it began to burn, to the point I had to wash it off with soap and water, then apply a calming oil to cool the burn.
I admit that I may have measured wrong, but believe that either way my fish would have felt this same burning.
This is an easier method and less gruesome as the others listed, but if I were to do it again, I would decrease the amount of clove oil; increase the water amount, and do it more slowly to ensure there is no chance of suffering.
Thank you for this post. I have been nursing a sick tetra for two months. She was swimming sideways and hadn't eaten in so long she must have also been starving to death, can't believe she held on this long.
I tried five different types of treatment but nothing helped. I couldn't let her suffer any more. It took three doses of the clove oil mixture but she went to sleep peacefully and is now released from her suffering. Thank you for providing info about this option and a place to share our stories.
The quickest way i find is to put ye olde fish in a blender with its tank water and clove oil - then switch to ice crusher. its pretty much instant.
I wish I had known about this earlier! My weather loach got himself stuck inside a decoration and after three days of us trying to get him out, we finally had to admit that was it for Colonel Wiggles and snapped his neck.
It was a miserable experience on all sides. He'd jammed his fins through so he couldn't move backwards and his belly started right after so he couldn't go forwards. We've since plugged the offending hole, but my tank has never looked so empty.
Just put my oscar down using above method. had to use extra clove oil. absolutely gutted, and was such a beautiful fish. Still have a lovely green severum so he will be getting my full attention. Madness. Usually fish come out when i have food at tank but they came out and watched the bucket i had him in when he died. I really hope i never have to do this again. Thanks for article.
I have some koi recently attacked by raccoons. Most were eaten but about five were left alive but badly hurt. Does anyone know if they can recover from bad injuries? Or should I just euthanize them? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Worked as described for my (dwarf) malawi mbuna. I had no potable alcohol on hand (I wonder, can topical alcohol be substituted?) so I used clove oil only. I put the fish, which was about 3.5 - 4 " long in two cups of tank water. I put about 1/4 cup of tank water into a cleaned-out 16 oz soda bottle, added one drop of clove bud oil (purchased at Whole Foods for about $6 in the "aromatherapy" section), shook it up and added about 1/4 of the emulsion to the container with the fish (which I'd covered with a towel this whole time). Fish reacted mildly to the stimulus, but nothing dramatic. Observations cease here for 20 minutes, when I left the container covered with a towel.
After 20 minutes passed, I observed very intermittent respiration on the part of the fish -- again, just as described above. I then slowly added the rest of the (re-shook) emulsion. After 10 minutes, I observed no motion of the fish whatsoever and I stuck him in ye olde freezer. Thanks.
The method above is unclear in how much water to emulsify the clove oil in. "Small and clean" is all that is stated. The measurements provided for the vodka were detailed and precise, by comparison. Thanks.
used the clove oil and vodka method - my betta seems to have died peacefully (he had dropsy and ick). thanks for the info.
Thank you for your website and the information. I too had a betta fish that I even put on antibiotics 1 week on and 2 weeks off. It helped a little but the infections kept coming back. Instead of clove oil I took your suggestion on eugenol which is only found in jiffy toothache drops. At cvs or rite aid its been around for years. It worked like a charm! Very peaceful, I followed your directions to the letter. Thank you again.
Just had to say good-bye to our Redrum, a Rose Queen we had for 3 1/2 years. Followed your instructions to the "t" and it worked as you explained. it provided a peaceful experience to what is a sad time. Amazing how we humans can become so attached to a fish, but it happens. Redrum would swim to the front of the tank when anyone just passed his room - if we sat at the PC for too long without acknowledging him, he would bump the tank lid, and he loved to be petted! hope you are enjoying your swim in the "perfect river". Thank you for having this information on how to humanely euthanize fish. it was invaluable!
It worked. my jack dempsey who was about 5 inches just stopped swimming, and no thrashing. So that at least makes me think it wasn't painful. However, I put a drop of the clove oil on my tongue and it burnt, so hopefully his eyes or gills didnt burn.
I used it on my very old, very sick betta, and it worked well exactly as described. He went easily and quietly with no thrashing, no panic, nothing. Thanks so much for this advice.
BTW, if you're looking for clove oil, try GNC. None of my local drug stores had it in stock, but GNC did.
thank you so much, so very very much. I had a little black moor who got an infection and wasnt reacting to treatment, his eye fell out. it was extremely distressing for me and the fish. i feel disgusted at myself for not having the guts to do it sooner. I had my doubts about this method. I read up on freezing and was told that the cells of the fish expand and split which was enough for me not to at least try it without clove. Instead I tried the clove and vodka method and I recommend it. remember to use a small container and measure out exactly what you need. My Trev Guiness Moor flicked twice then settled still breathing. After 10 mins I added a bit more then a bit more after a futher 5 mins once I could see little gill movement, then kept adding for 30 mins at 5 mins intervals. I didnt want to see any thrashing and panicking when I added the vodka, but Im fairly sure he was dead before I did that. He literally fell asleep. I hope I never ever have to do it again and that my other fishes will live till old age. Thanks again.
I had a betta that was very ill, he had many different diseases over the past two months and was dying a very, very slow death. A friend recommended clove oil, so I followed the directions and rather than adding the vodka I added the remainder of the clove oil mixture (which was two drops in about a tbsp of tank water). I had my betta in 6oz of tank water and he "slept" within seconds of the first dose of clove mixture, no suffering at all. This works very well but you have to make sure you are doing it correctly. Too much clove oil at first can cause discomfort so pouring the 1/4 of the mixture slowly into the water is key as is having the fish in a small amount of water.
My betta fish was so sick she barely had enough energy to swim to get air. I thought that the clove oil would speed up the process so she wouldn't have to suffer and could go peacefully... but I was wrong. She suffered *much* worse than if I had just let her die naturally... would never do this again!! It obviously doesn't work the same for every fish.
I mixed 100 drops of 100% clove oil with water in a small container and poured it into her tank (1.75 gallons). When I added the milky solution she went wild. I don't know where she got the energy... she was sooo sick and barely moving for 3 days before this! She frantically tried to get air by thrusting herself out of the water. Most of the time she looked like a dolphin, but a few times she thrust herself so hard I thought she was going to jump completely out of the tank. I had to hold her net over her. It was absolutely horrible!!!!! This lasted roughly 15 seconds, give or take. Then she lost energy and fell back under the water. After a short struggle, she quickly fell to the bottom. I added more clove oil. Then shortly after that, I added 750mL of vodka to be completely sure. I don't have much experience with fish, so don't know which method is best, but I would never recommend a method that isn't consistent. This was *far* too traumatizing for both of us!!
If you have a strong fish, like a beta, I *strongly* suggest you at least double the amount of clove oil. Mine had been dying for a little over a month, just sitting on the bottom. I wanted him to go peacefully. I ended up adding the entire clove oil mixture, after several dosages, to make sure my fish was asleep. 10 minutes later, when I poked him on the head and body, he did not move. I thought he might have been dead, but I decided to add the vodka anyway. Once I added the alcohol, my fish started swimming!! I felt so bad, because he was trying to get out of the water. I added about 3 tbsp water with 5 drops of the oil in it, to try and put him to sleep. I believe he ended up suffocating...
In all, beta fish, even when on the verge of death, have a fighting nature, so add plenty, I mean heaping, amounts of clove oil, and wait 30 minutes after the last dose. I hate to see animals suffering.
Thanks for the post, I had a very strong zebra danio as he was growing up I observed that he was getting a curved spine, fast forward a year later he just weakened, just laying at the bottom of the aquarium floor, and just breathing very fast...his situation worsened a few days later, till I found this article. I couldn't stand seeing him suffer so I went out and got some clove oil or eugenol at a nearby health store. 10 drops and 10 minutes later he passed away, I couldn't be any happier he passed away just sleeping. Thanks again!
Sadly my fancy goldfish is very ill with dropsy and swim bladder problems. I have tried all treatments, but with no success, so I do not want him to suffer any longer. In point one, when you put the fish in the container, is this just putting him in with normal tank water and then adding the clove oil mixture and finally vodka? I didn't think it meant put him in without water?! I just wanted to double, double check. Thanks
I just wanted to add another thank you for this article. My mother's blue paradise fish had been declining for a while, and today he couldn't swim enough to feed himself. I hated the idea of watching him starve, so I used the method listed here. The clove oil seemed to upset him for a few seconds, but after that he was fine. When I added the vodka he began twitching slightly, so I added more clove oil and he passed peacefully.
I want to tell you how grateful I am to you and your site. My betta Scarlett has been very ill and I was faced with needing to put him out of his misery. I could not bring myself to decapitate him (the recommended method by my local aquatics store) and I was beside myself with indecision. I had settled mentally on boiling water when I found your site.
Scarlett thrashed twice when I added the clove oil (found easily in a local health food stores) and then settled on the bottom and was motionless. I added the vodka and he twitched, but then was still. I ended up adding more vodka after that, and there was no more movement.
Thank you for helping me and helping my fish. I sincerely appreciate this page.
This method of Clove Oil worked very well for my sick Betta. It allowed him to die peacefully. The clove oil did not seem to irritate him much at all, he seemed to not be comfortable upon first introduction, but who would? It wasn't bad at all though, he slipped quickly into a sleep. I think my Betta was so sick, that he died upon being put to sleep, because I did not see gill movement after 60 seconds (I mixed the ratio correctly, just be careful because it *does* work (at least on Bettas)! Although I saw no gill movement for 60 seconds, I followed up with the Vodka just in case. For details, and for absolute certainty (not Vodka), I finished with a quick decapitation. I can assure you that from what I was able to closely observe, little fishy didn't feel anything. It was a hard decision, but there comes a fine line between good and bad quality of life when a pet owner must make the decision to euthanize based on the well being (especially taking mental distress into consideration) of the pet.
Just make sure if you do it, you do it quick. Once this fine line between quality of life is determined responsibly, do not doubt yourself. Put your pet out of misery and do it in a *humane* way like this method here.
If your fish is too large for clove oil (look into this more - I don't know!) I would probably try to get strong chemicals from a vet to do the job, just make sure the fish can't *feel* and not just can't *move* when choosing chemicals. Remember, we are so lucky that now-a-days, we get "put to *sleep*" before a major operation, are given *pain killers* when we wake up to comfort us, etc. Let's pass that on to others, *including* animals. Best Regards. -Bryan A. Russell
I had a 17 year old silver dollar. I tried everything to make him well to no avail. He was suffering so I tried the clove and then the vodka. It worked very well thank you for his merciful death.
Thank you for the info. I did the clove oil first for 10 min, then followed up with the vodka. My Betta went to sleep within seconds. It took me days to get the courage to do this, but I feel relieved he went peacefully and is not suffering any more.
I just had to do this unfortunately..to be honest I was a bit skeptical as I had a pretty big Oranda..I had to use a little more clove oil than suggested, however it eventually worked and my lil guy went out peacefully it seems..
I just had to euthanize two serpae tetras I've had for about a year. The worst part was getting them out of the tank, but they went very peacefully and quickly, side-by-side. I just hope the remaining serpae continues to stay healthy.
I had no trouble finding 100% clove oil at Whole Foods.
I'm very sorry to hear about your pacu. Since he is so large it would take quite a bit of clove oil and alcohol to use this method. I'd suggest calling your local veterinarian for something that might be easier that they can prescribe for this purpose, or call Sea World in San Diego and ask for someone on staff to direct you to the correct party for advice. I happen to know that Sea World maintains a 5000 gallon freshwater display that includes several Pacu. Good luck and I hope that helps!
I have a very large and very old Pacu (he's 28 yrs old and about 30-35 lbs) he's very sick and everything we've tried over the past 2 months has accomplished nothing.
After reading all the entries, I'm not sure if the clove method would work for such a large fish. Does anyone know of any other way to help him die peacefully?
So I Was weary after reading everyone's experience with the Clove oil on their Betta's. My Betta Hasn't moved in days, and I had to do something. So I put some of his water in a jar and one drop of clove oil and shook it well. I put him in a small cup with a bit of his water and then put in the clove water. He splashed twice and that was it, he was out.
I figure if your Betta is sick enough it will work, *so make sure he is really on his way out before you do this*.
After 10 minutes I added one more drop, just to make sure. Then into the freezer, he won't feel a thing. I miss him. He was very beautiful and friendly.
HI..I have a koi fish who is sick, he has to be put down, does anyone know if the clove oil and vodka will work for koi fish..
I don't want to do what the pet store said to do ( hit his head with rock, freeze him nor do I want to cut off his head) he was a pet to the gentlemen that I bought house from a year ago. He had to move he was dieing of brain cancer and recently just past away.. so I feel this fish should go peacefully like him..
can someone help me with the question about clove oil..?? thanks
Thank you for the advice. We had a large tiger oscar and had tried everything we knew of but he continued to worsen and we didn't want him to suffer anymore. Used 3 gallons of water and he did not seem to suffer. As hard as it was to see him go this method seemed gentler than other methods and i am grateful for the post.
I tried the clove oil only method today. I had a sick beta who had dropsy for what seemed like forever. It had to be well over a month. I treated him cause I thought maybe he was constipated, but no luck.
He eventually got to where he was not eating and just hiding in his cave or leaning next to his wood decor. I cannot believe how long he lasted. I have read that they usually die after an average 3 days to 15 days. He had to have been this way for a little longer than a month. I also think feeding him frozen blood worms was the cause - who knows for sure.
I could not stand to watch him suffer any more and I could not decapitate him. I went to Vitamin Cottage this morning and bought the 100% Clove oil - only $5. It took me several hours to work up to doing it. I had him in his little cup that he came in with clean water. I made my mixture with about 3-4 drops and shook the jar of tank water. I almost could not do it but finally I just did it. I poured some of the mixture in with my beta. He did thrash for I guess a few seconds. It was awful to watch. He went to the bottom his gills still moved. Even after 10 minutes so I added more. He continued this way for awhile. I eventually added more of the mixture and then watched and waited. He finally passed. He was one strong little beta. Sometimes I feel like he just didn't want to go. Also this morning I noticed he started growing fungus on his tail and tummy. I feel tortured. I hated doing that. I hope it did not hurt and he did not suffer any longer. I miss him......
I am not so sure that freezing kills a fish. My brother has a small man made pond in his backyard that freezes every year. He has a gold fish in it and you can see the fish frozen in the ice. Every year the water thaws in the spring and goldfish is just fine.
Well, this method did not work well on our goldfish. :( I'm really upset as I was trying to find a peaceful method for him and I think I made it way worse than if I would've just chopped his head off. I got 100% clove oil (Humco brand), put one dose in the water, he did not fall asleep and he was really distressed by the clove oil addition. After waiting 10 minutes, he was more relaxed, but still swimming, so I added more clove oil and waited another 10. Now it seemed like he was asleep, his gills weren't even moving, so I poured in the vodka. Then he woke up and started thrashing again. It is horrible. (He is in 16 oz of water and I added 4 oz vodka). He is about 3 inches long, so maybe I needed a higher dose of the clove oil to begin with, but still, the vodka should have done him in by now and his gills are STILL MOVING. Christ. I feel horrible. I don't recommend this method at all. Go and get some finquel. I looked in three pet stores for it and couldn't find it, which makes me sad that the pet stores aren't even euthanizing their fish in a humane way.
Thank you for this article, it worked really well. My poor little bubble eye had dropsy bad, her little stomach was filled with blood and her scales were sticking out and she was floating upside down. I couldn't bear the thought of killing her in any way, but when i thought it was for the best i found this method.
Thank you for allowing me to send my little trev off peacefully to water heaven. RIP Trev, i loved you lots :( x
I just want to say thank you so much for this article. I have been agonizing over how to help my fish die - we have put Maleluca (for fish) in the tank and we have done several fresh water changes (weekly) and this poor Gourami doesn't look like he is going to make it :( We have had him for a long time and he has been through a lot in the tank (territory wars with our Tetras - he instigates) Thank you for providing this valuable information. I cannot believe that people would actually put a fish in the freezer to die.
I just wanted to say thank you for posting this article. This procedure works perfectly!
I just had to put down my 6-year-old Jack Dempsey. He had been very sick for over 2 weeks and I needed a very human way to put him out of his misery. I'm sad that he's gone but I'm relieved that I was able to send him to heaven peacefully. Thank You.
my beta has pop eye (before you say "its because you were too lazy to clean out the water" it was because his cage was pushed over, and i was forced to put him in stinky nasty water for an hour, but it was too late, his eye is huge and i got medicine for it and it just wont go away, it looks very painful, should i kill him?
This article was a god send. I had a creamsicle female Molly, who after giving birth, became seriously ill and disfigured. I couldn't figure it out. I had been researching possible causes and cures. None of what i found helped.
After seeing her suffer for more than a week, I came across this article. Thank you sooo much. I followed the directions as stated, and she went peacefully. No thrashing or anything, just to sleep. I did have a hard time finding the 100% clove oil, but did find it at a GNC.
Again, thank you for your site and helpful information. I'll be back when problems arise, or just for fun to learn more.
I found this article when I was looking for a humane way to send a group of guppies to their watery heaven. A man gave me a tank full of fish that were just awfully twisted, deformed and sick. I suspect they had tuberculosis, but I suppose it could have been strictly inbreeding. I decided to use the clove oil method and it worked great. The fish slowly fell asleep. No spaz attacks or stress. After about 30 minutes of them being asleep, I added the vodka and their gills stopped moving. It made me feel better knowing that they went peacefully after a life of such pain. Then, I had a plecostomus that I thought had a huge patch of fungus. (It turned out to be Argulus) I used just 1 drop of clove to about 1 pint of water. So, I slowly added a few drops of the mixture. After a few minutes, he started spazing out like crazy. He was literally trying to suck up the sides to get out of the mixture. I figured he was just freaking because he didn't know what was happening. It turns out that it actually killed him a few minutes later. I don't know if armored fish are somehow different, but he completely spazed and died and I was so upset. I felt like I murdered one of my favorite fish. So, tonight I looked at one of my Purple Moscow Guppy babies. He had a tiny hair stuck in his mouth and he couldn't get it out. So, I made the same mixture. 1 drop to about 1 pint. I added a few drops and he slowly fell asleep. I used tweezers and pulled out the hair, it was long and hard to get out. Then, I slowly took out the old water and added some of the tank water. I have been slowly doing this for about 45 minutes. Take out old water, add tank water. He looks dead and pale. But I still see his tiny heart beating. I have no idea how long to wait for him to wake up, but if he doesn't wake up within the next hour, I'm going to euthanize him. I figure 2 hours in clean water and he should be moving. Or id this wrong? Be very careful when using clove oil to put fish to sleep temporarily. It hasn't worked well for me so far!
I bought clove oil at GNC for 6.99 for my large oscar and followed the 10 drops per gallon then after 10 minutes added the vodka . While I did add more clove oil after ten minutes after I added the vodka (just in case) my oscar went very quietly. Thank you for the good advice.
I would like to say that Clove Oil is virtually impossible to find. So, based on other reviews I tried the Alka Seltzer method. After the 6th tab, and 30 minutes of watching the fish suffer, I went for decapitation. I couldn't stand watching it suffer any longer.
I found ZERO results in the alka-seltzer method and highly suggest the freezing method. I should've done this all along being a science major, but I figured this other way sounded nice enough. How wrong I was.
To the person with the betta with the marble size tumor: It's quite normal for male bettas to have potbellies. I once had one that looked like it had a small grape for a stomach. It's also normal for bettas to take in breaths of air. They have a special organ that lets them use air in addition to dissolved oxygen. If you don't let bettas take a gulp of air, they will die. to summarize this, your betta was probably fine.
I had a molly who I had to euthanize. . . but instead I used the Alka seltzer tablets. They worked great, she was out rather quickly.
Thank you for these suggestions, though. . . I'm sure that they'll come in handy in the future. Now I just have to find out where I can get clove oil from.
I just had to euthanize 2 of my balloon mollies. I woke up this morning to find one swimming upside down and covered in fungus, and the other still upright, but just as fungusy. By the time I'd come back from getting the clove oil, the upside down one was dead, and the other was clearly beyond saving. Thank you so much for this guide. I've prevented my female molly from suffering any more than she clearly was.
I currently have a fish who is in the process of dying a slow death. He has been very sick for the past fortnight with White Spot and is in treatment for that.. but hasn't responded. The past few days, his tail has almost completely disintegrated away.. he has some fungus-ey type fluffy stuff hanging off his body.. and I know now there is no way he will survive - despite the fact I've been trying to be as optimistic as possible. I know tonight I will have to euthanize him, as his immune system is just too weak to cope (I rescued him from a disease-ridden fish tank in my workplace). When you feel like you've done everything you can POSSIBLY do and you realize you're only keeping the fish alive for your own conscience and that the fish is clearly going to die - that's the time to step in and speed up the process.
Because the pharmacies are now closed, I will most probably put him in the freezer in a small amount of water and hope for the best.
All I know is, I certainly couldn't live with myself if I had to chop off his head or put him in a blender.. and I most definitely couldn't flush him. Although the decapitation is probably the most quickest, most painless death... I just couldn't physically do it. I wish I could, because it's better for the fish - but it would be absolutely traumatizing.
I would just like to make a comment regarding this matter. I had a goldfish which was about 6 inch long with severe dropsy and I could not bear to see him lying on his head at the bottom of the tank upside down any longer. I read this article and purchased some clove oil from Boots and some Smirnof Vodka.
DRE has been in the family for 6 years and deserved the best send off.
I followed the directions for a large fish and within 10 mins he was fast asleep. There was no thrashing and no agitation.
After waiting the stated time I added the vodka, once again no movement and DRE pasted away very peacefully. This is the most humane way to put a fish to sleep with very little upset. Thank you, Mr and Mrs Gould
My poor baby betta had a tumor the size of a marble. He was still eating, but gulping for air and I couldn't bear to watch him struggle to swim and breath.
This method using clove and vodka was at least quick. He clearly did not like the addition of the clove, so I covered the bowl and pretty sure he was gone before I added the vodka.
I miss my little buddy. Time to go rescue another one from a cup of blue water.
I just put my fish to sleep. I followed the directions on this site exactly as stated, and the clove oil did not put my fish to sleep. I waited and waited and still nothing, so I added a bit more, and it began to irritate them. They gasped for air at the top, and I could see the skin around their eyes was all red, which it had not been before. My fish looked worse than ever and were apparently suffering worse than ever, and I did not know what to do at this point so I had to kill them in an extremely horrible way - at least to me it was - and I don't even want to explain it to people on this site. I needed to act fast, and your website doesn't tell us what to do when the oil doesn't work, and it's doing damage. I got the exact oil you recommend and double checked it with my vet. I was completely unprepared for this situation, and I feel horrible.
Fish are cold blooded, they do not feel temperature differences as humans do, their metabolisms simply react to their changing environment. When water temperature decreases the fish's metabolism slows down and the fish will go into a state similar to hibernation and also as described by the clove oil method. Fish, unlike frogs, cannot survive freezing solid and will expire once this occurs. The MOST humane method is to remove them in a container (with top) of tankwater large enough for the fish to be upright, and then place this in your freezer. Depending on the amount of water and other variables it will take 1-2 hours for your fish to have frozen. This is in no-way cruel, painful, nor violent. I have kept fish for over 30 years and have tried clove oil and other methods and still have observed the most serene and peaceful deaths occur with freezing. Clove oil is highly effective and only causes minor stress, but it does not work naturally.
As previously noted, clove oil is not effective for all fish, and several in the hobby would place in apparently excruciating pain when subjected to the lethal dose you suggest. Freezing does not require knowledge of the fish's biology and works painlessly with any species that will be commonly found in the hobby.
I have read your articles and find them really interesting. I have been fishkeeping for 5 years now and have had to kill several fish and it is very distressing. I choose to decapitate them. I set everything up next to the tank and the whole procedure takes just a few seconds and the fish is at peace. It is violent, it is unpleasant, but the fish knows so very little about it and I work hard to keep it that way. I have read up on several different ways but can't be sure I will get any of them right. I just try to be exceptionally fast - if it was my way to go - I would want it to be very quick. I think as long as you are thoroughly researching your methods you have to go with what suits you.
My Blue Tang was found listing upside down this morning. He was 17 years old, and seemed too weak to recover. I'm so glad I found this post.
The clove oil worked perfectly, and as he relaxed his color came back to its brilliant blue hue. I added a little more to make sure he was asleep, then I added the vodka. The entire process was very peaceful except for the brief transition from the tank to the container with the clove oil. He never did like being moved...
Thanks again, I am very grateful for Jacques peaceful release from suffering.
Once the fish has been put to sleep with an overdose of clove oil, you can then put it in the freezer rather than adding vodka in order to make he/she doesn't wake up
Hi - I just came across your site while doing some research on clove oil. When I worked in a health food store, we used to advise people wanting to add oils to bathwater to first mix the oil with a teaspoon of milk. Milk is an emulsion already, so the oil mixes in then the milk dilutes into the bath water. I hope this helps, in the name of kindness.
Found on another site which changed my mind:
Vodka And Oil Of Clove
The combination can be used IF done properly but the majority of the cases of at home euthanasia the fishes gills are burned by the vodka causing a violent death.
Alka seltzer was the better option. 1 tablet to 5 gallon.
Thank god I kept reading.
Since vets use clove oil to perform surgery on fish, I can't see why it would not work on Bettas, even though they breathe surface air. The extreme agitation doesn't make sense, and doesn't seem to occur in all cases, but only some. I'm wondering if the clove oil used in those cases had additives that caused the aggravating factor.
Another possibility (in some cases -- not all) is that the clove oil was mixed with faucet water by mistake instead of tank water. In that case the reaction would be caused by chlorine and other chemicals in the faucet water.
I found 100% pure clove oil for aromatherapy. I got a 1oz (which is a TON for this purpose) bottle for 5.99 from GNC at the local mall.
spelling correction and additional factoid to my post: bettas are Anabantids--labyrinth fish. Gouramis are also in this category. Any one have any experience with clove oil and gouramis??
I have had the same experience as tillab with bettas on more than one occasion (I had over 70 at one time.) The bettas become frantic, thrash, are in obvious terrible distress that doesn't get better with time or the addition of more solution. I too have removed them from that solution and resorted to another technique.
My theory is that this happens because the fish are anabatoids--that is they breathe outside air from the surface rather than through their gills. I'm not sure why this matters--maybe they are not getting enough into their system to anesthetize but only to be uncomfortable. I have seen many posts about clove oil working great on non-bettas and many that describe the same frantic scenario when it is used on a betta.
I followed the directions to the letter, using 100% Clove Bud oil (aromatherapy source). It did seem to be a calm, quiet, effective affair. I think the most stressful part of it all was trying to net the fish out of the tank! The fish barely moved when I added the clove oil mixture, was clearly in deep sleep very soon after, and did not move at all when I added the vodka. Gill movement ceased almost immediately, but I still waited.
Thanks for helping provide a solution to a problem..... I still feel like a murderer though :(
Thanks for the great information. My betta has dropsy and also an ulcer on his skin or ich. My heart is breaking but I couldn't put him in the freezer as the aquarium store suggested. If you are in an emergency situation and need clove oil, call your dentist office. I am a hygienist and we have Eugenol which is oil of clove, either 100% or 99%. I am sure if you took a container they would give you 4 or 5 drops if they have a heart. I have just administered the eugenol and am waiting for anesthesia.
Farewell my beautiful Frank! I am so sorry I did you wrong.
I just wanted to thank you for the directions. I had a tiger barb (>2yrs old) that had lost its tail fin due to nipping and even after moving to a different tank never got better. Eventually red sores (under the scales) started to develop and I knew it was not going to improve.
Like others, for the first 3 seconds or so the fish got agitated, but very quickly after that it rolled on its side and is now comfortably asleep.
I did want to mention one tip:
Clove oil is not readily water soluble (that's why it makes a cloudy liquid. While this will work fine I added a single drop of alcohol to aid in dissolving prior to adding to the fish to put it to sleep. When shaken this will make the liquid less cloudy and should help to put the fish to sleep faster without any stress since the amount of alcohol is so little.
Thank you again.
Well that's a pleasant thought. Is that your final choice when it's your time to go? Boiling water? I bet it isn't instantaneous at all, and I surely hope you are kidding about it now.
What's with this 'euthanize'? Do you mean 'kill'. If so why not just use that word?
Why go to all this trouble when you can just drop them into some boiling water - surely death must be almost instantaneous?
Thank you for posting this. My platy tank appears to have come down with TB and I will be euthanizing at least one of them tomorrow (if she survives the night). I was really glad to have read this article with its step-by-step instructions and with other people's feedback and experiences as well.
Now I know to get 100% clove oil, if I can, and to leave the room for the 10 minute wait so I don't have to see her gasping for air or any of that.
Thanks again :)
Thank you! I had to say goodbye to my first fish - and the mother of the brood in my tank. It was very peaceful. And it was nice to have such concise information about how to do it.
I've had my pet oscar for about 7 years. He and I were good mates. Each week (or two) he'd get his water change, and every day he'd come to the top of the tank for his daily meal. I know he recognised me as his reaction to me was different to that of anyone else.
Over the past couple of weeks, things started to go badly for him. He had stopped eating, stopped swimming and became very lethargic. I put it down to age as the water was fine, temperature was good and there was no disease in the tank.
Yesterday things went critical and I realised I had to do the humane thing and put him down. I scoured the internet for humane ways to do this, and came across this site.
Today I dropped into the chemist and picked up a small bottle of 100% clove oil. He always hated being picked up out of the tank, and the tank is pretty big so I didn't want to oil the whole tank. Instead I went and retrieved a bucket from downstairs, and held it near him under the water. With what little energy he had left, he swam into the bucket, much to the relief of both him and me.
I triple dosed the water with clove oil, mixing it in a separate container as indicated on this site. I gently poured it in, and within seconds he had settled to the bottom of the bucket. After waiting 10 minutes or so, I mixed in the vodka.
There was no thrashing or splashing, and he was definitely unconscious. That was 30min ago, and now there is no movement at all. In a little while I'll place him in his final resting place somewhere in the back yard.
So thanks for the tip on how to do this humanely. It wasn't a job I was looking forward to, but in the end it was not stressful for either him or me. Much appreciated.
Thank you so much for this article. I have a molly with a severely twisted spine, and who can barely control her movements anymore. I sadly suspect TB.
I am reluctant to hear the accounts of fish struggling and gasping, thanks for clarifying that this was likely due to the use of not 100% clove oil. I was, however, naively hoping for a totally 'comfortable' euthanasia.
All in all, I thank you for this most complete overview of the clove oil method.
I just wanted to thank you for suggesting the Alka-Seltzer method for euthanizing a pet fish. I had a huge silver dollar that was suffering. I had tried many different "cures" but they were all for nothing and this fish was dying and suffering. I used the Alka-Seltzer method, since I did not have any clove oil or access to any clove oil. The Alka-Seltzer method worked almost immediately. I used a bowl with the water from the tank, placed the fish inside and then put in tablets of Alka-Seltzer and I believe the fish died more peacefully than if I had let it die naturally. Thank you again for the tip!
I think this is basically a good method. However, when one buys eugenol at the drug store (a typical ingredient in toothache remedies) it is usually found as 80% eugenol & 20% sesame oil. I suspect that the sesame oil is irritating and its presence may be causing the less than optimum results described. Unfortunately, 100% clove oil is somewhat more difficult to find on short notice. One place to look is aromatherapy stores. I bought mine at Amazon.com. Or you can ask a pharmacist if he has any 100% clove oil behind the counter.
I have 3 12" red belly pacus will this work for larger fish like them?
I just used this method on four juvenile guppies with birth defects. Upon adding the clove oil mixture they began gasping at the surface and darting around, obviously trying to get away from it. Very quickly however they began to sink to the bottom, and after only a few seconds there was no movement at all. They were too small to tell if there was gill movement, so after waiting the 10 minutes anyway I added the vodka.
So yes, they were agitated, but only for a few seconds. It thus seemed humane as opposed to any other method of euthanasia.
In search for a more humane solution I tried this method on a small fish (not a betta) with apparently a tumor in its belly. After slowly administering the clove oil it became a little bit agitated (as earlier described), however it settled down pretty quick on the bottom. It seemed to keep 'gasping' for air, which wasn't a pretty sight (but even so, what way to euthanize a fish is a pretty sight anyway).
It kept gasping, so therefore I decided not to wait the full 10 minutes as described but administered the vodka earlier; perhaps it is a better to go away and wait a while, but after the vodka I noticed the fish became quiet and still, almost immediately! However, there were some spasmodic gasps after a while, so I put in an overdose of clove oil just to be sure and pretty soon the fish passed away.
All in all, albeit it is a bit slow and not entirely pretty to watch, it seems to me this is an effective and reasonable humane way to euthanize your fish, provided that you really mix the clove oil into the milky substance.
It is safer to use vodka (after administering clove oil) then trying to use clove oil alone. If your family doesn't drink, buy a small bottle of vodka from a liquor store for less than $3 and keep it with your fish supplies for future use.
I'm very sorry to hear about your experience. I assume you meant that the fish reacted at the introduction of the clove oil. Fish usually react for a moment to the clove oil just because they sense something in the water and will try to dart away from it. But soon they fall sleep. I know it's too late now, but introducing the clove oil slower might have been less traumatic, or perhaps introducing more at once would have caused the same reaction but put him to sleep (not to death but to sleep) sooner. IAC clove oil does not hurt, so the fish was not in pain. It was just trying to escape. However I realize how upsetting this is to watch.
I just tried your method on my terminally ill Betta, and it didn't work out well... The fish became very agitated and tried to jump out of the bowl, though I had followed your advice. I quickly decapitated it; the procedure in total didn't last longer than 1min, the decapitation took 1 second. I do believe that your protocol might work if applied differently (I don't know what went wrong), but it's clearly not fool-proof. Perhaps you should warn your readers (I've read before that clove oil didn't work on bettas, but I sadly didn't heed that).
RIP, my dear Betta, and at least I now know that I will never again keep vertebrates for my pleasure. So you didn't die in vain (but I'm sorry that my learning process caused suffering).
IT says in the article you can do it with clove oil alone and no vodka...
No one in my family drinks, any substitute for alcohol?