So I will include an index with this, so you can skip to the section that is best applicable to your fish. Essentially, this is a set of questions that will help you assess your fish. I chose to begin with questions that will help you determine if your fish is stressed since the decline in fish health begins with stress. From stress, I move on to sickness, then pain, then it concludes with euthanasia and proper disposal.
1- Is My Fish Stressed?
2- Why Is My Fish Stressed?
3- Is My Fish Unhealthy?
4- Is My Fish Sick?
5- Is My Fish In Pain?
6- Should I Euthanize My Fish?
7- How Can I Euthanize My Fish?
8- The Euthanasia Of Invertebrates
9- Proper Disposal Of A Dead Fish
1-is my fish STRESSED??
Things To Look For:
-Loss of appetite?
-Avoidance of other fish?
2- Why is my fish stressed?
Potential Causes Of Stress In Fish
- Are my water parameters pristine?
- Is my water temperature unusual or fluctuating?
- Is the fish being harassed?
- Have there been any recent spikes or fluctuations in the water?
- Are you up-to-date on your water changes?
- Did you recently do a water change that may have been stressful?
- Was your aquarium light on passed usual hours?
- Did your fish sleep properly?
- Was there any disturbance in/around aquarium?
- Was anyone tapping on the aquarium?
- Did a tankmate recently be added or removed?
- Was the tank layout changed?
- Is your tank an appropriate environment for the fish?
- Does the fish have the proper amount of space it will need to thrive not only as a juvenile but also as an adult?
- Does the fish need more/fewer individuals of his/her own kind?
- Are there any meds/contaminants in the tank?
- Are all elements in the tank properly working? (filter, heater, powerheads, airstones, etc)
- Is my fish being outcompeted for space and/or food?
- Are the temperature and water parameters for the fish?
- Was the fish properly acclimated?
- Were there any fluctuations in parameters?
3- is my fish UNHEALTHY?
Injuries In Fish Can Occur.
- Fin damage(s)?
- Scale damage(s)?
Fish May Have Digestive Problems.
- Is my fish bloated?
- Is my fish constipated?
- Am I feeding my fish a proper, balanced diet?
- Am I overfeeding my fish?
- Are my water parameters pristine?
Fish May Suffer From Underlying Health Issues.
- Does my fish have tumors?
- Does my fish have swim bladder disorder?
- Does my fish have a deformity?
- Does my fish have cancer?
- Does my fish have cataracts?
Fish Grow Older. (signs of old age may vary among fish and depend on lifespan)
- Is my fish in his/her golden years, months, weeks, days?
4- Is my fish SICK?
- Inflamed, red, swollen, prolapsed anus?
- Are worms protruding from anus?
- Dropsy? (pineconing, fluid buildup)
- Complete loss of appetite?
- Discolored, swollen, inflamed gills?
- Rapid or heavy breathing?
- Deteriorating tissue?
- Discolorations, marks, flukes, worms, external parasites on body/fins?
- Improper swimming?
- Swollen body?
- Sudden casualties among tankmates?
- Swollen/protruding eyes?
- Ragged fins?
- Visible cysts?
- Open sores?
- Internal bacterial/parasitical infection?
- White stringy poo?
Always Quarantine Sick Fish! monitor your other fish closely.
5- is my fish in PAIN?
- Is my fish responsive?
- Is my fish swimming with purpose?
- Does breathing look like a chore for the fish?
- Is my fish breathing rapidly and shallow?
- Breathing slowly, and with a lot of effort?
- Visibly exhausted?
- Visibly struggling?
6- should I EUTHANIZE my fish?
- Have I tried medication(s)?
- Are the medications not helping/making my fish worse?
- Was the fish being properly medicated?
- Has my fish been struggling for a long time?
- Is my fish in pain?
With certain conditions, a fish can continue to live happily, with proper accommodations
- Can my fish live comfortably, despite his/her condition?
- Will my fish's condition continue to manifest?
- Can my fish continue to live, until an extent of manifestation of his/her health condition?
7- How to Euthanize a fish?
Avoid Netting Your Fish. this will stress them.
the best method is clove oil. this is an anesthetic for fish, and in an overdose, will euthanize your fish.
-Clove oil can usually be purchased from a store that sells essential oils.
-Some people may use PIMAFIX as it has trace oils of allspice and bay leaf. These oils may share some similarities to clove but are not quite the same. However on the accounts of people who have used it for the purpose of euthanasia, it was successful. It is also thought by some to have a calming affect on fish it is used on. The fish keeping hobby is very diverse, and some people will agree or disagree about PIMAFIX being used for euthanasia. Overall the better bet is to use clove oil.
potential concerns of clove oil:
though I have not found any, consider adding the clove oil in several small-medium dosages rather than all at once. make sure your fish is DEAD, not anesthetized. it is always good to add more clove oil once your fish is anesthetized and leave the fish in there for a while before removal. depending on your dosage, water volume, and the fish itself, the fish should fall asleep quickly, but no longer than 15 minutes.
some of these methods require the fish to be removed, which is extremely traumatizing. the effectiveness of these methods is also questionable. overall, it is agreed that clove oil is more humane.
- Decapitation; not recommended
- Breaking of the spine; not recommended unless you are an expert
-Fisherman method; this requires a lot of skill to know exactly where to place the blade.
- Vinegar/Vodka; this will damage their gills painfully
- Freezing; this one is debatable, freezing may not always be effective and is a slow process. fish are also cold-blooded.
8- Euthanasia of invertebrates?
A half-eaten, struggling shrimp. A crushed snail. Whatever it may be, invertebrates will sometimes have to be euthanized. Unfortunately, there is no direct method; invertebrates are not as straight forward as fish, who are vertebrates. Here are some suggested methods:
- Crushing between paper towel
- Being eaten by other fish
- Being eaten (the fish must be big enough to properly do this)
do not feed sick animals to healthy animals. shrimp can carry bacterial or parasitical infections.
- Being crushed
9- animal disposal
- DO NOT flush him/her down the toilet. this will negatively affect your drainage systems and is illegal in some places. this is also disrespectful to your fish.
- You can bury the individual.
- Make sure the dead fish will not end up in waterways where the native fish can be infected.
- DO NOT feed the individual to another animal. by doing this, you are cross-contaminating fish and tanks. also, the fish has clove oil in its system; if a fish is dead, it cannot remove chemicals from its body.
- Burning can be an option.
- You can place the fish in a sealed bag, and from there safely stow away in the disposal.