I called an exotic animal vet who specializes in anything small that doesn’t say “meow” or “woof.” She said “plenty of people” bring in their fish for Ick.
“Really?” I said. “People would spend $98 to have their fish seen by a vet?”
“Oh, all the time,” she told me. “And that doesn’t include the medication.”
The moral dilemma lasted for a whole two seconds. Let’s see. Do I buy groceries this week or take the goldfish to the vet. Humph… I’ll skip the obvious joke of feeding them these crackers for a week:
After a friend said fish flushing was an environmental hazard and not to do it, the question became how to do it.
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. WikiHow actually has a page on how to “humanely” euthanize your fish, complete with graphics.
Some of the suggestions include killing the fish barehanded like the Boston Strangler.
The page reads: “WARNING: Unless you’re experienced with fish anatomy, practice on dead fish first so you can perform these quickly and without mistakes.” I’m sorry but who would possibly practice killing fish before killing a fish?
“Hold down the head and sever it with a powerful motion from a sharp knife, just behind the skull. Alternatively, you can insert the knife behind the skull and sever the spinal cord and vertebrae. Then pith the brain immediately. Even after decapitation, the fish may still be alive for a short time. Ensure a rapid death by immediately inserting a sharp spike or knife into the brain, between the eyes. Push forward and backward to destroy the brain and the end of the spinal cord.”
Here’s more handy advice.
Prepare a Euthanasia Bath. “Unless all the fish in a tank need to be euthanized, you’ll need a second container. Transfer some of the water from the current tank to a new, clean container, preferably with a similar aeration and temperature control setup. Using water from a different source or at a different temperature can stress the fish, or cause an inhumane death,” it says as if decapitating a pet fish is humane in the first place.
Then it says to drug it with something you can pick up at the pet store called MS-222.
“Use 5–10 times the amount the label recommends for anaesthesia (this is how it’s spelled in the article, not my bad).”
Or you can just give it one for the road.
“Vodka will work as well, if you increase the amount based on the strength. For example, 63% vodka requires 1.5 times as much by volume to reach the same alcohol concentration,” the article reads.
WARNING: “Any euthanizing drug can send the fish to sleep if too little is used. Death often takes 30 minutes to arrive, and you may need to wait 2 hours to be sure.”
It goes on to tell readers to “Watch carefully for the following signs of death.” They include:
“No movement of gill flap for 10 minutes. Usually following spasms 1 minute apart.
No movement of eye when fish is rocked from side to side.
Very slow heart rate. The heart may continue after death, but a strong, persistent beat means the fish is alive.
If you do not see these signs within an hour or two, or if the fish wakes up again, add more of the drug.
If you want to be certain the fish is dead, kill it with the physical methods below, or freeze it in ice water. These should not cause pain if the fish is deeply anaesthetized (spelled wrong again).”
And the last but not least resort, it says, is to Macerate the fish (meaning put it in a blender).
Can you imagine putting your favorite fish in a blender? And on what setting? Puree or chop?
I’m opting for the good, old-fashioned way, thank you very much.