Putting down the favorite pet to sleep must be the hardest decision one can make as a pet owner. But sometimes fate leaves us no choice but to euthanize our favorite companion. Even in such difficulty, you must opt for the most human way to kill your fish.

Using baking soda for euthanizing the fish is the most common and cheapest way. It is efficient, quick, and requires simple ingredients only. Just calculate the proper measurement and add the ingredients. With simple and easy steps, you can put your fish down to sleep.

Humanely killing a fish is not a job for everyone, and it is tricky to get everything right. In this article, I have detailed out everything necessary to know for euthanizing the fish with the help of baking soda.

Step By Step Guide To Euthanize A Fish

Baking soda is the most user-friendly product to humanely kill any aquarium fish and is convenient for all. But just dropping 1 few tbsp of baking soda into the water is definitely not a wise or humane way. To efficiently process the procedure, you must follow this step-by-step guide_

Step 1: Separate The Dying Fish

First, take the fish out of the tank and place them in a large bowl or container, possibly a transparent one. This will keep the other fishes safe and sound, and you can discover some potential illnesses that led the fish to such miserable conditions. You can learn from such conditions and take precautions to save the other little fish.

Fill the bowl with the water from the tank, if possible. I am sure you know how startled and stressed fishes become, even with a little fluctuation in water quality. This will help the fish relax a bit. Also, place the bowl someplace away from the original tank. A sudden separation and death can create panic in the tank habitats.

N.B. – The bowl or container should be airtight.

Step 2: Measure The Amount Of Baking Soda.

To know how much baking soda you must add, you must calculate the amount of water you have inserted into the container. For every gallon of water, you have to add 3 tablespoons of baking soda. So, if you have 5 gallons of water, the measurement should be-

5 gallons x 3 tablespoons = 15 tablespoons of Baking soda.

If you are more comfortable with the liter measurement, for every 4 liters of water, you must add 3 tablespoons of baking soda. If you add 20 liters of water to the container, the measurement should be-

20 liters x 3 tablespoons = 15 tablespoons of Baking soda

After dumping the soda, wait for a few minutes and let the solution dissolve in the water. It may take 5 to 6 minutes. During the dissolution of baking soda, seal the container so that no air can pass through. Do not use a spoon or shake the container for dissolving. Rather, spread the powder in such a way it can reach every corner.

Step 3: Observe The Gill

As the baking soda starts to work out its job, you will notice the frequent and inconsistent movement of the gills. Do not panic, as they are doing this for shortness of breath. Baking soda is highly alkaline, and when concocted with water, it deteriorates the oxygen level of the water, making the ambiance hard to breathe.

After a while, the movement of the gills will become slower and harder. Once they stop moving, you can be sure that the concoction of baking soda and water has worked off. Keep the fish in an airtight container during this process. Removing the fish at the midpoint will only increase the suffering.

Step 4: Wait Till The Fish Is Completely Tilted On The Side

When the fish finally flops to one side and sinks to the bottom, you can be certain that the euthanizing process is completed. If the body doesn’t stay still and flips from side to side, it is still alive. So, wait until there is no visible movement and the fish lays on the ground motionlessly.

Usually, this flipping happens immediately after you add baking soda to the water. But for the bigger fishes, it may take some time.

Step 5: Remove The Fish From The Container

Once you have confirmed the departure of your fish, carefully remove the fish from the container. Wear a glove just to be safe since the water is highly alkaline and contains a high amount of carbon dioxide. Be gentle about the removal and slowly take the fish out.

After removal, it is up to you what you wish to do with the body. The best way is to perform a burial, but if you choose any other way, you should opt for those. 

How Does Baking Soda Euthanize The Fish?

When you add baking soda to the pH-7 water, the pH level changes drastically. Even a few drops of baking soda will create an alkaline environment. In connection with the water, it will create carbon dioxide in the water through bubbles formed inside the container. It has a quicker effect because, in one way, it uses oxygen to create a reaction. And it releases carbon dioxide as a by-product.

Such an environment makes it really hard for the fish to breathe in and out. And when you seal the container, there is really no option to seek oxygen from the outer side. Thus, inhaling carbon dioxide and being short of oxygen finally kills the fish inside the bowl or container.

Will Baking Soda Hurt Your Fish?

Baking soda will certainly hurt the fish. The basic method of using baking soda is to suffocate the fish inside carbon dioxide-filled water. Their gasping and whimpering really indicate their dire state. But you must remember, whatever method you choose, it will hurt the fish one way or another. With baking soda, the suffering will be transient and short. And it is certainly better than cracking any bones or part of the body.

How To Confirm The Death Of Your Fish?

How long the method will take doesn’t really have a solid answer. Just to be sure about the death, you must read the signs of the fish. If you remove the fish abruptly during the euthanizing process, it will only scale up the pain. Primarily, the movement of gills can be an indicator of death. But it can’t be the only indication.

Once the fish has tilted to the side, observe the eye of the fish. The pupils of a dead fish will be very dewy and cloudy. The eyes will be still and almost grayish in color, indicating the death of your fish. When you remove the fish, examine the scales of its skin. If you sense any crackling on the skin and the scales appear dry, the fish has definitely expired.

How Long Will It Take To Euthanize The Fish?

There is not really an absolute answer to that question. But roughly, it doesn’t have to take more than 20 minutes. It also depends on the size of the fish and the immunity that still remains in them. For small, frail fish, it will take 15 minutes on top. Angelfish, Oscar, and Silver dollar will take around 20 to 25 minutes overall.

To break it down, for the baking soda to be dissolved in water, the duration will be 5-6 minutes. If the fish is so fragile, they will breathe their last during this period. But for average fish, it will take 15-18 minutes to get the job done. Any movement will be halting forever after 20 minutes. So, even if it is a bit painful process, the duration is really transient.

When Should You Apply This Method?

Putting down your favorite pet is, of course, your last resort. You must know whether or not the issue that throws the fish on the verge of death is alterable. Sometimes you will come across a situation when the last resort becomes the only option before you. You must know when you should give up and let go even though it is hurting your heart.

When the fish is terminally ill, and all treatments and methods have proven to be void, you must put an end to the misery of your fish. When the fish has suffered chronically and is out of immunity and nutrition to carry on living, euthanizing is the mercy that you can offer. For the Goldfish, Guppies, and other similar kinds of fish, sometimes you need to euthanize the fry in the breeding season to ensure better quality breeding.

Final Words

Even though we all know death is inevitable, we can’t accept death so easily. And when you have to choose death for your favorite pet, there can’t be anything more devastating. But just because you have to put down your fish to sleep doesn’t mean it has to be harsh and loveless. Baking Soda gives you the opportunity to kill the fish humanely, efficiently, and swiftly.

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