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Welcome to our page. I have been keeping marine and fresh water aquariums for over 20 years off and on. We try to provide lots of up to date articles on maintaining an aquarium. We also have many awesome links on the right side bar to all things both Fresh Water and Salt Water Aquarium related. Things like Medicines, diagnosis charts, Fish Identification Databases, DIY Projects, Just to name a few. Quick Links to our tank Journals there as well.

Around here we like Salt Water Aquariums just as much as Fresh water aquariums. We don't mind although they must be "OddBall", "Predatory", or "Monster" Fish and when they are all three we are most happy!! So stay a while, poke around a bit and look through our collection of Angler Fish, Bala Sharks, Snoflake Eel, Plecostomos, Spotted Gar, Volitans Lion Fish, Polypterus, Damsels, and many assorted others...

We will be posting comments and pics here all related to keeping our fish. We hope you enjoy your visit.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Euthanize a Fish.

How to Euthanize a Fish.

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.
Here are the steps for fish up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length:
1. Add tank water to a measuring cup or mixing bowl. Measure the amount of tank water you add to the cup or bowl and make a note of it. Place the fish in the container. If the fish is in a clear cup, place a dark towel around the cup to calm the fish.
2. Fill a small, clean jar or bottle with tank water, leaving some room at the top. You might use a baby food jar or pill bottle. Put 1 drop of clove oil in the jar or bottle, cap, and shake vigorously. The clove oil should emulsify, turning the water milky white.
Gently pour about 1/4 of this emulsified mixture into the fish's container. The fish will begin listing as it starts to fall asleep. Let the fish be 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 you watch 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, retrieve the jar or bottle of emulsified clove oil, re-shake, and add the same dose to the fish's container. Wait again.
3. Once the fish is asleep on the bottom, add 20-25% white grain alcohol. For example, if the fish is in 8 oz (240 ml) of water, add 2 oz (60 ml) of vodka. Let the fish stay there for at least 20 minutes.
4. Check the fish carefully after 20 minutes for any gill movement. If there is no gill movement over a 60 second period, the fish has expired.
For large fish: Place the fish in a bucket or plastic tub with tank water. Again, measure how much tank water is used. 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, fill your jar with tank water and add 10 x 3 = 30 drops of clove oil.
After shaking the jar vigorously, slowly add the entire mixture to the bucket or tub that contains the fish. Gently mix it in. Once the fish is asleep, follow the previous instructions for adding 20-25% vodka.
To eliminate vodka from the procedure and overdose with clove oil alone: Put the fish to sleep first as stated above, 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. Administer it the same way, by first shaking the jar before adding the mixture to the fish's container.
Once you've added the entire mixture to the fish's container, wait a few hours. Finally, make sure there is absolutely no gill movement by watching the gills closely for at least 60 straight seconds. If you see any gill movement, add more emulsified clove oil.
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, be especially diligent when using clove oil alone that the fish is really dead. It is much safer to use vodka as the final step.
Unacceptable methods of euthanasia include freezing, boiling, chopping, removing the fish from water, using a seltzer tablet, 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 like we might before an operation, and simply doesn't wake up. Hopefully you will rarely have to perform this task, but when you do, it's at least comforting to know your fish does not have to suffer.

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