How do I ease the passing of my betta?

  • My Betta is 5 and a half years old. And I am deeply saddened and distressed at his state. I know he is old.

    It has a slew of health problems. As of late however I noticed that his bladder has failed too. So I was wondering how to make his death less painful. Due to bladder he can't swim up properly to his food. Due to cataracts(cloudy eyes), he can't even see the food properly. And I keep him in a spacious 25 gallon. When feeding him, I will stick my hand in the aquarium, he will hobble over on my palm, then I will lift him up and using other hand almost directly deposit food pellets into his mouth.

    So I can do the following. Transfer him to a more shallow 5 gallon where he can swim up somehow and try to get food without my help. That will keep him alive slightly longer.

    Sorry I can't write properly. I just feel very saddened. Can someone please tell me what to do? I want him alive longer, but he is clearly in a lot of pain. He is my favorite Betta.

    If he is in pain, and unlikely to recover, perhaps it is time to euthanise him. I believe this is something you can do yourself at home, but ask your vet for instructions.

    @mhwombat would you happen to know how? I looked at some of the methods and they seem very terrifying. Putting a tropical fish into ice bucket sounds completely terrible. Also is it a good idea to let him die naturally rather than speeding up the process? He still seems to have appetite(he ate for the first time yesterday in the past 4 days, maybe he can live?).

    Unfortunately, I don't really know anything about fish. You need to consult a veterinarian to find out if he can be cured, and if not, what the most humane way to euthanise him is.

  • Making a decision:

    Whether or not you want to keep your fish alive longer is a very personal question. Only you can decide this. On a personal note, whenever a pet of mine gets to the point when it cannot function properly, and it's quality of life is extremely low, I believe it is time to euthanize. You may wish to consult a veterinarian on this before you make your decision, as it is not an easy one.


    Euthanization methods:

    There are several methods for this, which I will provide if you end up making this decision. There are two main categories... So called old school and new techniques.

    The old school techniques involve things that you can find around your home. These methods are considered old school and they may not exactly be the most humane but they can be the most affordable and easy. I will list them.

    Old school:

    1. Freezing

    You can put water in a bag and put it in the freezer until it gets slushy. You then put your fish in the bag and continue freezing. This is not a method approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). If you decide to use this method, perhaps the better thing to do is to put the betta in slightly cooler water (approximately 70 °F / 21 °C) and then begin the freezing process. This will slow the bettas heart rate slowly and would most likely be more humane than putting it in slushy water.

    1. Decapitation

    This is the quickest method. It simply involves cutting your fishes head off with a knife very quickly. It is not painless but it is very fast. The pain is momentary.

    1. Fracturing neck or spine

    This is less quick but may be less painful. You take your fish and break its neck. The fish may live for a moment or two after this but will feel less pain.

    1. Remove oxygen

    This method involves putting Alka Seltzer tablets in the water. You may wish to do this in a bag full of water for a betta, if you choose this option, as they can gulp oxygen from the surface. This has been reported to seem slightly cruel due to the fact that it is slow and it is suffocation.

    New methods:

    These usually involve an overdose of anesthetic or a barbiturate and are more humane, yet complicated and expensive. Overdose of anesthetic is used by universities that conduct research on fish. You could try to find a university of research centre near you that may carry a suitable anesthetic. There are also some household items like clove oil and vodka (not advocated by the AVMA) which will also work. Some of the anesthetics are available from pet stores or other sources.

    You can find a list of anesthetics, barbituates, and all methods described here: How to humanely euthanize your fish.

    Thanks. Due to lack of anesthetic, I think I will go with the option of dripping small quantities of alcohol while slowly freezing the aquarium. Very saddening experience. In all the years I kept the fish this is the first instance where the fish could hang on to life for so long and refuse to die.

    @Quillion Be very careful if you freeze the aquarium. This will crack the glass. Do it in a flexible plastic container, like a cut off pop bottle.

    Even if I try to do it in acrylic aquarium the glass will crack? I will move him to my quarantine acrylic 4 gallon before I begin trying to freeze it

    @Quillion I am unsure if acryllic will be safe. Anything rigid will probably crack.

    Thanks so much for your help in this desperate time for me. I will be saying my final goodbyes soon and will proceed to do it this weekend.

    @Quillion I was wondering if you went through with it, what method you ended up using, and the results of it. It would be good to have some information on what happened. If you went through with it, sorry for your loss.

    I am still holding out. Every time I go to my Betta with resolve to end the suffering it swims away from my hand (yet still gets on my hand when I plan to feed). So until the day that my Betta willingly gets on my hand when I have the resolve to end his suffering, I will not do it. Once I go through with it, I will post and update I promise

    In vet school I was advised that decapitation is the most humane method, but is also difficult for someone attached to a pet to do.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM