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Old 09-03-2011, 01:58 AM   #1 
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A question about euthanizing. :(

Hello all. I come to you with a heavy heart, so please keep that in mind if you respond. (What I mean is I really don't want to come across as callous, and this is breaking my heart.... so please don't think I'd ask this if I haven't EXHAUSTED so many other options). My little Luna is quite old (I'm blanking on how many years), and for the past month he's been sick. I've tried various medical treatments, but they seemed to harm more than help. He is alone in a 10 gallon tank with a heater.

It breaks my heart, but now he's at the stage where he's stopped eating for the past 2-3 days. I didn't want him to suffer when nothing else was working, so I went out and bought what I thought was Clove Oil. It was liquid, and it came from Henry's and says 'Clove' on it, and sure smelled like Clove Oil. But I guess my little man is a fighter and/or it wasn't Clove Oil... because my mother and I followed the proper directions and he didn't die! So we eventually gave up and placed him back in his tank. It's been a day since then.

So here's my question: if it's impossible to find Clove Oil (I've been to what I believe are all the possible stores in my little city), and my two available options are horrible: freezing him in the freezer, or letting him starve to death. I don't care what some of the websites say, beheading may be quick for some but it is ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THE QUESTION FOR ME AND LUNA.

Besides not eating recently, he lays at the bottom of the tank now and doesn't move unless provoked, his gills move ridiculously slowly, and he has a strange look in his eyes now... not glazed but.... different.

I know that it's a horrible question to ask, but if you were forced to choose which would you pick for your betta: starving or freezing? :(

Again, PLEASE don't think that I don't love him... I just hate to see him suffer so.
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Old 09-03-2011, 02:31 AM   #2 
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Freezing and starving are both EXTREMELY painful to the fish... I would never recommend either method.

I dont use clove oil, i make a very strong 'tea' out of whole cloves and after it has cooled to room temperature i release the fish into the tea until it is anesthetized. Once i am sure it will feel no pain i get a cup of very hot, near boiling, water (it comes out of my tap this hot, you may need to nuke it) and scoop it into the hot water. The fish feels no pain and death is instant. The first few times i had to do it i felt sick, but i know they are in a better place now.

I am very sorry that you have come to this, and i hope that you know it is alright to let go...
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Old 09-03-2011, 03:16 AM   #3 
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Although you've said decapitation is not an option, would blunt force trauma invoke the same sort of response.

As I never have clove oil on hand, I simply wet some paper towel or an old tee-shirt in tank water, and place my betta inside of that. I've never had one struggle once they've been wrapped up in it, as it's dark and moist enough that they don't get so stressed.

Then using a hammer, I locate my betta's head and hit it as hard as I can. As soon as I hit that betta it's dead. The brain is instantly destroyed (which often isn't the case with decapitation, which is why it also requires pithing), and it's over so fast the betta doesn't even know what's happened.

Although it sounds terrible, it is one of the most humane forms of euthanisation after an overdose of clove oil. Freezing is a horrible way for anything to die, and starving a betta to death would take weeks.

If you don't have the stomach to do it (I once couldn't when my favourite betta was sick) do you have a brother or someone else to do it for you?
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:45 AM   #4 
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Location: Elk Grove, California
PowayMermaid, I'm so sorry to hear Luna is sick. It sounds like old age is catching up to him. And don't worry, we don't think you are being callous at all but rather you are being a responsible fish and compassionate fish owner.

Aside from the aforementioend methods of euthanization, which may be rather traumatic for YOU, I would also suggest you call around and ask if there is a veterinarian who might be willing to euthanize your fish for you or give you a dose of medications that can be used for euthanization. I believe possible medications to use for immersion euthanization are tricaine methanesulphonate and benzocaine. 30mg dissolved in water is said to peacefully euthanize most size fish.

I'm so sorry you are going through this.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:02 AM   #5 
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I don't usually recommend euthanizing, since one of my bettas who had symptoms of dropsy and wouldn't eat is completely fine now, but If he is old then you will have to do it. As others have said, blunt force is the best option. I think oldfishlady recommended putting them in the freezer, but I'm not sure.
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:23 AM   #6 
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Hi PowayMermaid, I'm so sorry it has come to this for you and your little betta. It's never easy to have to face a pet dying and especially when you have to help them go. As I'm new to fishkeeping, I have lost a few fish already, but have not yet had to euthanize and I hope I never will. I wish everyone's pets could just pass peacefully when the time came but unfortunately it is not so and please don't feel that anyone will think you are callous for not wanting to let your pet suffer his last days unnecessarily. I have heard many a cruel story, including someone who used fish for a school science project and then got bored of dealing with them once it was done and flushed them alive down the toilet! Now that is mean!

As for euthanizing, did you try to euthanize with just the clove oil or clove oil and vodka. From what I have read online, clove oil is only meant to put the fish to sleep, although if you put 5 times the dose for sleeping, it is supposed to kill the fish. What I have read is that you are supposed to use a drop of clove oil in some tank water, shake it very well until emulsified and put the fish in. Wait 10 minutes and once you see the fish settle at the bottom and not keep swimming, you are then to put him in vodka where he will expire but not feel any pain. Do not put him in only vodka though as this will be painful. The clove oil step has to happen first.

I hope you arrive at a solution that works best for you or better still, I hope your little guy expires on his own soon if indeed it is the end for him. I'm sorry you have to go through this. Thinking good thoughts for you!
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:36 AM   #7 
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Clove oil can be purchased from a vitamin or health foods store such as GNC. You can ask the employee to locate the right product for you.

I've used several different methods. For me, the quickest one was a hammer of course, second quickest was water that was just above freezing, with ice in it. I put the fish directly out of an 80* tank into the ice water. It immediately sank to the bottom and was dead within a minute. The fish immersed in clove oil didn't go as quickly. However, its not known how much pain a fish feels when immersed in ice water so that is why clove oil is the most popular method.

I'm sorry you are having to make this decision. Perhaps you can tell us a little more about what has been going on and maybe we can help you get him better.
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:25 PM   #8 
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By understanding the Bettas anatomy/physiology and without anthropomorphizing......Fish have a small brain with limited perception...its not that they don't feel pain....they don't perceive pain like mammals due to limited brain function......

Although this may not ease your mind and even understanding the limited perception...its still your pet...this we all understand.......sadly, sometimes the time comes to make the hard choice to euthanize our pet and end its suffering......In my is cruel to allow any creature to suffer needlessly even with their limited perception....especially when we can do something to end the suffering even though it is often hard....the selfless act to end the creatures suffering is our responsibility as hard as it may be........

When you don't have access to chemicals or vet to euthanize...we as hobbyist must find away to do it as humanly and possible....the fastest method is often the hardest method for some...this is when a friend or family member may be needed......

Decapitation and crushing the brain is the fastest method in my opinion, wrapping the fish in something like an old rag or newspaper so you don't have to look at the body or see its heart still beating since it can continue to beat up to 15 min after decapitation.....this can be hard for some to see or even read about...sorry if I disturbed you.....often life and death facts will be disturbing and sadly...with life come death and something we have to deal with being a responsible pet owner.....

In my opinion and experience-the next best method and sometimes easier for some- is Freezing-however, I like to start with the fish in its tank water in a small disposable solid colored (so you can't see in it) container with a top of some type....this is for the hobbyist more than anything-placing the container with the Betta in the back of the freezer-DO NOT check on the Betta for 24h........
As the water start to cool down this slows the metabolism causing the fish to go into a sleep like state-then unconscious state-then the heart stops and the fish quietly, peacefully passes away......

After 24h-you need to properly depose of the Betta/container-remove the container and either bury, burn or throw in the trash.....

This is the toughest part of the hobby...but know you are not alone......
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:36 PM   #9 
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I may be wrong, but I think I saw on some TV show where a vet was caing for Koi.... one of the Koi had a tumor or something an the owner decided to have the fish euthaized, I think the vet used bleach?

Found this article that talks about some of the ways other people have mentioned:

Last edited by LittleBettas; 09-03-2011 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:59 AM   #10 
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Thank you all SO SO SO much. I have to admit that reading all of your kind and reassuring words made me feel better when going through such an awful time. I think I'll sleep on it for tonight... but I've copied and pasted all of your suggestions so that I'll see what leaps out to me in the morning.

What a wonderful forum! I hope that when my heart recovers from losing my little guy I can take the chance in raising another betta... since I know I'll have people like you to interact with!! THANK YOU AGAIN. <3<3<3<3
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