The decision of putting down your favorite pet can never be an easy one. But sometimes fate reignites the inevitable, and we search for ways to at least ease the pain before their departure.

Clove oil is the most popular and useful method to euthanize a dying fish since it is effective and painless. This oil comes from the Syzygium aromaticum tree and works as a sedative.

The oil itself is simply attainable, and the procedure is rather simple and effortless. But, for a fruitful execution, you must go through this article since I have discussed all there is to know about euthanizing fish with clove oil.

Why Clove Oil?

The anesthetic feature of clove oil is well-known in the dental industry. Syzgium aromaticum is a natural substance that can be attained through the leaves, stems, and flowers of a clove tree. For humans, this type of oil is used to mitigate headaches, joint pains, and toothache. However, clove oil works as a euthanasia agent when it comes to fish.

Why clove oil is such a popular method is not a myth. Since it works both as anesthesia and euthanasia, the nerves of the fish go numb first due to the anesthetic effect. So, when the fish eventually dies due to the reaction, they hardly feel the pain. Their body reacts to the clove oil substance without making them feel agitated.

How To Euthanize Fish Using Clove Oil?

Even though the mechanism of clove oil to euthanize fish seems complicated, the procedure is rather simple. However, there are risks of doing it wrong and, eventually, putting the dying fish in a harmful position. So, follow the guidelines thoroughly for swift execution.

Separate The Fish

In a bowl or container, add the tank water. For small to medium fish, 1 gallon or around 4 liters of water will suffice. For large aquarium fish, the amount may be a little higher. Remember to keep the bowl away from direct sunlight.

With a net or round object, catch the dying fish and place them in the container. Instead of initiating the procedure immediately, give the fish little time to settle down in the new home. Often the fish gets startled and anxious in a sudden location change. 

Prepare The Solution

To make the clove oil solution, you need to put 0.4 mg of clove oil into 1 liter of warm water. So, if you have 4 liters of water, the solution should be-

4 liters of water x 0.4 mg of clove oil = 1.6 mg of clove oil

Make sure the water you are diluting the oil is warm or at least lukewarm. If you directly put the clove oil into the container, the fish will get agitated and uncomfortable. So, the mixture will prevent the fish from panicking. Spread the solution into the container evenly instead of focusing on the fish’s position.

Observe The Movement

Once you disperse the solution into the water evenly, you will notice erratic swimming of the fish inside the container. Soon after their swimming session, their body will initiate to go numb, and you will find them lying upside down or on either side.

It will take 1 minute or two to completely lose consciousness, depending on the size of the fish. Your fish will go into a deep sleep and will stop moving. If you notice movement or swimming after 2 minutes, add 1-2 drops of clove oil into the container and wait till it falls unconscious.

Add Stronger Dose

Once you can check the tick on the sleeping task, you need to move forward to the step of putting them to sleep forever. For that, you need to add 12-13 doses of clove oil directly into the water. Since the fish is deep in sleep, there is no need to mix the oil with warm water. It should not take more than 30 minutes to finish the work.

Observe the gills after 5 minutes. If there is still a soft movement, wait for additional 5 minutes and add more doses if the gills keep moving. Once you are convinced the gills are not moving, you need to wait for 10 minutes to be sure. Then, you can declare the fish dead.

Addition Step (For Larger Fish)

If the fish is larger in size or you still have doubts about its demise, you can do a stun and stab procedure to complete its departure. It may sound like gore and inhumane, but trust me, your unconscious fish will not feel a thing.

All you need to do is, wrap the fish in aluminum foil. Hit the fish’s head with a blunt object. If the fish remained conscious, this stunning would knock them out. Then, with a sharp knife, stab the fish’s head and pierce through the brain.

Dispose Of The Fish

Killing the fish in a humane manner will not suffice. You need to execute a humane disposal for your loving fish. Burying would be the most acceptable way to honor your dead fish. You can also bury the fish on a potted plant, but make sure the fish isn’t contagious or have any spreadable disease.

How Does Clove Oil Work In A Fish’s Body?

Clove oil has been used for generations to immobilize fish and suppress their senses and nerves. This has been proven extra effective during surgery, invasive proceedings, and handling. The mechanism is rather complex and has many layers. But in gist, the right amount of clove oil thrusts the fish into cardiac arrest.

Firstly, the lipophilic agent of clove oil numbs the skin and gills of the fish. Through skin and gills, clove oil joins the bloodstream inside the veins. Then, through the blood-brain barrier, it enters the respiratory system causing hypoxia. It prompts the failure of respiratory inhibition, and lastly, this causes a heart attack.

Pros And Cons Of Using Clove Oil

There is hardly any debate about using clove oil as euthanasia, and people have unilaterally accepted this method to humanely kill their fish. However, it is totally valid and justified if you want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the clove oil method. First, let us talk about the pros.

The optimal reason for using clove oil is the painless execution. Since the clove oil works as a sedative and euthanasia, there is no way your fish will feel a thing and will depart without a hint of pain. Also another reason for clove oil to gain popularity is its availability. You can get clove oil from your local drugstore or amazon market.

However, there are some drawbacks to using clove oil. The main reason is the time duration is quite large. From losing consciousness to the ultimate departure, it takes almost 30 minutes to complete the procedure. Also, the method is not really guaranteed. Since the risk that the fish might wake up will always linger.

Other Methods Of Euthanasia

If you want to explore other ways of euthanasia or clove oil is not that available, you have other methods you can consider. While clove oil is the most popular method, there are lots more swift and effective ways to humanely kill your dying fish.

Stab And Stun

This is the most effective method there is to kill the fish humanely, no matter how gruesome it sounds. All you need is a blunt object and a sharp knife. Honestly, the combination of the clove oil method and the stab and stun method is the best procedure for you and for your dying fish. The clove oil will numb the sensory nerves, and the second method will put them to sleep.

Alka Seltzer

Using Alka Seltzer tablets is the quickest way to humanely kill the fish. Once you drop the tablet is the water, an immediate reaction occurs between baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid. A by-product of this reaction is Carbon dioxide which will instantly kill the fish by suffocating their respiratory system.

Vodka And Clove Oil

Vodka is a debatable substance as euthanasia, but it is very effective per se. To remove the debates and doubts regarding this, you can first use clove oil to sedate the fish. Once their body becomes numb, and no visible movement of gills can be observed, add vodka to that water. It will be swift, quick, and effortless.

Other Ways To Kill A Relatively Large Fish

Clove oil, if used right, is able to kill aquarium fish of any size. However, if the fish is somewhat large or is in a good gut, you may need to consider other ways to kill them humanely. Because it is always tricky to comprehend whether the fish is asleep, unconscious, or dead in the clove oil mixture.

The most reliable method of killing large fish is using tricaine methanesulfonate. The chemical name can put your teeth numb, but the popular name of this product is MS-222. Just 1 gram of MS-222 per liter of water will cause a quick and painless death to your large fish. The only drawback is this product is relatively expensive and kind of hard to find.

Read Next: How to comfort your dying fish

When Should You Euthanize Your Fish?

Deciding to put your favorite pet to sleep can never be an easy decision. But when you observe the signs that your fish is in a miserable condition, you should consider putting them down to sleep, no matter how it crushes you. If your fish has reached its life expectancy and is already on the verge of death, euthanasia will be the best gift for him.

Also, if your fish has gone through or is still going through some terminal illness that there is no way he can be treated, saying goodbye will probably heal them. Another reason can be their aggressive nature. If other cohabitants are constantly attacked, and your fish has become a threat to their existence, you may need to kill one to save others.

Final Words

Saying goodbye to your favorite fish can never be easy, and if you have to be the one to put them down to sleep must be devastating. So, if you want to say goodbye to them in the most painless and heart-warming manner, you should consider clove oil and use it right.

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