Do you remove a dying goldfish?
January 6, 2014 8:04 PM   Subscribe

We have a dying goldfish. I'm certain he's dying. (ammonia spike in water, caught too late to save him, he's lying on his side gasping and has been sick for a couple of days). I've done water changes and gotten the ammonia and pH back into balance, but I want to know: should I remove the fish while he's still alive? I'm afraid he'll die overnight and start rotting, but I feel like (even more of) a murderer if I just take him out now.
posted by gaspode to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: He's suffering and death is already guaranteed. End the suffering. Euthanasia is a kindness here, not murder. Vaya con dios, Buttercup.
posted by kmennie at 8:07 PM on January 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

a few hours in the freezer is a humane euthanasia method for tank fish.
posted by Abinadab at 8:13 PM on January 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Here is an article about humane ways to kill pet fish. Suggests sticking him in already half-frozen water rather than straight into the freezer- you want him to freeze, not suffocate.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:14 PM on January 6, 2014 [13 favorites]

Nthing freezer.
posted by smoke at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2014

This happened to my brother's fish when I was a teenager and watching it gasp itself to death for 12 hours (and having to keep CHECKING on it) was way more traumatic than if someone had just sucked it up and humanely killed the fish. I refuse to let my own children have fish as a result, honestly.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:24 PM on January 6, 2014

It's suffering. Just kill it.
posted by windykites at 8:37 PM on January 6, 2014

Please kill the poor thing. Slightly graphic description follows:

If you can stomach it, the fastest way is to insert the tip of a sharp knife just behind the head, and do a quick sawing motion or 360 degree rotation to completely destroy the brain stem or base of the spinal cord. It should go limp immediately.

It is a living thing and deserves this. It seems hard, but you'll feel much better later than if you let it suffer.
posted by agentofselection at 8:40 PM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't flush it down the toilet while it is alive! I agree about the sharp knife. It is harder on you than the fish. I have done this, it was sad for me, I have never killed anything in my life other than mosquitos. I still think it was the right thing to do.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 8:48 PM on January 6, 2014

you haven't told us whether he's sharing the space with other, healthy fish. if he is, you need to remove him instante. how would you like to be locked in a small hotel room with a dying stranger? if he's solo, you have much more latitude, you could drop some rose petals into his water, or one tiny speck of a party drug or whatever else you think will make the both of you happy.
posted by bruce at 12:24 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I study fish. Immersion in ice water is actually a preferred method of euthanasia. Do not put your fish directly into the freezer though.
posted by Cygnet at 5:14 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: thanks guys. I froze him in ice water last night. I burst into tears and felt like an idiot for doing so, but hey ho. Poor little fishy guy.
posted by gaspode at 5:37 AM on January 7, 2014 [20 favorites]

You aren't an idiot at all. Fishy was a living creature, and you didn't want him to suffer. I cried when my goldfish Hector died in college, because he was so funny and cute. Thanks for doing right by the little dude.

The day after my goldfish died, the entire campus flooded due to a violent storm and the overflow of the local river. Fish were swimming across campus. I like to say it was Hector's vengeance.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:09 AM on January 7, 2014 [29 favorites]

You're not an idiot! I cry when snails die. You just are a person who cares! Poor little fish. I'm sorry for your both having to go through this.
posted by windykites at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aww, don't feel like an idiot. My lab has many thousands of zebrafish (usually around 6,000) and I still cry sometimes if I have to euthanize one that's gotten sick. Fish are amazing creatures and they have plenty of interesting behaviors and individual characteristics.
posted by Cygnet at 12:58 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had to euthanize my beautiful, friendly betta after a bout of persistent fin rot. After some research, I found that for a tropical fish like a betta, the best way was with vodka (!). My friend Tom came over, we toasted to Beau the Betta, and then gave him the prescribed amount in the comfort of his fish bowl. It took him a long but gentle time to die, and it was just the saddest thing in the whole world. I had to leave the room. Tom stayed and sang a little fishie song to him. Than he came outside where I was hunched over the bottle of vodka and we both cried and cried.

So don't feel silly for being sad. Sweet little fishie.
posted by Specklet at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

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