How To Euthanize A Goldfish Humanely – With Video Instructions

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If you find yourself having to euthanize a goldfish at home, the method currently recommended as most humaine is to use Clove Oil. When exposed to Clove Oil in a sufficiently high enough dose, your goldfish will first become unconscious, followed fairly swiftly by death. Clove oil should be added slowly to your goldfish water over a period of about 10 minutes.

Goldfish can become more than ‘just a fish’, they can become part of the family. Goldfish can live for 20 years or more. Unfortunately, there may come a time when your goldfish becomes too old or too ill to carry on and you decide the kindest thing to do is to euthanize your goldfish.

Euthanizing A Goldfish With Clove Oil

The advantage Clove Oil has over veterinary anesthetics, is that it is available over the counter at medical stores or chemists. I usually just order mine directly from Amazon. It is reasonably priced (check the current price here).

Around 40mg of Clove Oil per liter of water is considered a sufficient dose to bring death reasonably quickly to a goldfish.

The video below shows how to properly euthanize a goldfish using clove oil. Please be aware, the video does show a goldfish passing away.

Instructions For Euthanizing A Goldfish With Clove Oil

  • Fill a container large enough to comfortably hold your goldfish with aquarium water
  • Carefully place your goldfish into the container
  • Mix the clove oil with a small quantity of warm water
  • Slowly add the water/clove oil mix to the container over a period of about 5 minutes
  • Your goldfish should soon become unconscious. When it does (typically the goldfish will just float on the surface) add the remaining mix to the container
  • After another 5 minutes has passed, check your goldfish for gill movement.
  • It is widely accepted that after 30 minutes of no gill movement, the goldfish is confirmed dead.

Confirming Death Has Taken Place

It is generally accepted that death has taken place when there has been no gill movement from the goldfish for around 30 minutes or more. It is important to make sure death has taken place before disposing of your goldfish.

Ways NOT To Euthanize A Goldfish

The internet is filled with lots of weird and wonderful ways to euthanize a goldfish. The vast majority would not be considered humane and many are just outright cruel. Below are just some of the ways you should NOT euthanize a goldfish.

Flushing Down the Toilet

Flushing any fish down the toilet would not be considered a humane way to euthanize it. Once flushed, a goldfish will either end up suffocating in a pipe without water or having their gills severely burnt by chemicals in the wastewater.

Ice or Boiling Water

Whatever else you may have read online, submerging your goldfish in ice-cold water will not cause them to ’slip off to sleep quietly’! Putting a goldfish into ice-cold water or worse, boiling water will cause unnecessary pain and suffering to your goldfish.


Goldfish, especially large fancy goldfish, are surprisingly strong fish. In theory, if you could remove the head in one swift action, it would be a painless way to euthanize a goldfish. In reality, it would be very difficult to remove a goldfish’s head this way. If you attempt to decapitate a goldfish to euthanize, you will more likely than not end up causing unnecessary pain and suffering to that fish.


On the face of it, removing a fish from the water, leaving it to die, will solve the problem. The reality is, leaving a goldfish out of the water to suffocate in the air would be a slow, painful death. Imagine the reverse, dropping a human into the water and holding them there until they stop breathing. Very unpleasant. Suffocation is definitely not a humane way to euthanize a goldfish.

In Conclusion

The prospect of euthanizing a pet is not nice. If you are faced with a situation where you have to euthanize your goldfish, follow the video above. Take your time. Keeping the fish calm will no doubt mean the process is less stressful for both you and your goldfish.

Using clove oil won’t cause your goldfish too much distress, and your goldfish will firstly become unconscious before death follows shortly afterward.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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