How to Euthanize Guppy Fish The Most Humane Way {Never Do These 6 Things}

There are a few reasons why guppy fish may need to be put down. How to euthanize guppy fish the most humane way is important to know for when that time comes.

A lot of people will make that tough choice to end their suffering. If you do need to euthanize your guppy then there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

In this guide we’ll look at how you can do it in the kindest way possible.

How to Euthanize Guppy Fish The Most Humane Way

One of the most humane ways to kill guppy is also the most unpleasant. It involves simply hitting the guppy with a blunt object and then stabbing it to ensure a quick and painless death.

Another option that you have it taking them to the vet but there will be additional costs in doing that. Many people prefer to do that to avoid doing it themselves but others prefer doing it at home.

As we’ll see in this article below, there are ways you can avoid a trip to the vet.

Are You Looking To Keep Guppies? If yes check out our care guide here

Will Guppy Fish Recover?

The first step you need to take is trying to restore your fish to good health. Even though they are ill, there may be a way for you to nurse them back to full health. Guppy fish are quite hardy.

Many common diseases are relatively easy to treat with medications available at the local fish shop or a trip to the vet.

When You Should Not Euthanize Guppy Fish

You shouldn’t euthanize guppy because you can’t take care of them or too many are now in your tank. If you wanted to get rid of your healthy guppy then there are many things you can do.

  1. Give them away – Guppy fish are colorful and easy to keep. It’s likely that there are people who would love to take them off your hands.
  2. Sell them – There is a huge market for guppy fish, especially if you have ones which have particularly attractive coloring.
  3. Become a breeder – If you have excess guppy fish then you could always turn it on its head and breed them instead.

How to Euthanize Guppy With Blunt Force

If they are terminally ill then there’s nothing that you’re going to be able to do. This technique sounds awful, but it’s the fastest and provides the least amount of suffering.

Blunt force

Probably the most humane way to kill guppy is the most unpleasant. It involves simply hitting the guppy with a blunt object and then stabbing it to ensure a quick and painless death.

What you need:

  • Blunt object
  • A knife
  • Foil or plastic
  1. The first step is to take the fish out of the water and place it on a surface that would be able to collect any blood. You could use aluminum foil for this but you should also use a plastic bag. You just want to make sure there isn’t a mess.
  2. The next step is to simply hit them on the head with a blunt object. Many people use a rolling pin for this or something similar. Hitting them on the head will disable the fish and effectively knock it out. If you wanted, this could be the last step if you are confident that you have killed the fish.
  3. If you have stunned your fish and want to make sure its life has ended then make a cut with a knife through its brain. It’s best to make this cut horizontally just above the eyes.

You may feel as though this is barbaric but it’s often the best way. Other methods that people may see as a better option don’t kill the guppy quickly enough.

This method is quick and over extremely quickly. It’s effectively the same method that is used to kill animals for meat production.

How To Euthanize Fish With Clove Oil

This is the gentler way to put down a fish and is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. For those that don’t want to use the blunt force method, this is the one that you should be doing.

Anyone that has had toothache may have used clove oil as it’s a natural anesthetic and it’s used by vets for that reason.

What you need

  • Clove oil
  • A bucket
  • Small bowl
  1. The first step is to simply fill up a bucket with a gallon of water. The water quality should match that of the aquarium and it’s the best idea to simply use water from there.
  2. Catch the fish that need to be euthanized and place them into the bucket. At this stage, you want to avoid them having any additional stressors.
  3. The next step is to add clove oil to the bucket but you shouldn’t do this directly as the oil will float on the surface. Instead, use a bowl or container to mix the oil and then add that to the water. At this stage, you should use about four drops.
  4. After a while, the fish will lose consciousness but its gills will still be working. If you have bigger fish then a few more drops may be required. Once the fish are unconscious then it’s time to add more clove oil into the water. About a dozen drops should be enough to bring on hypoxia and they will die. You can check this as their gills will no longer be moving.
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Methods to avoid

There are a few methods that have been done in the past which should be avoided. Here we take an overview of them

  1. Ice – This can be a good method to euthanize guppy but the effect on the fish are unclear which is why the clove oil method is better.
  2. Flushing them down the toilet – This is a horrible thing to do and it may not even kill it at all. They can survive for quite a long time in horrible conditions.
  3. Suffocating – Leaving them outside of water takes too long and the fish suffer
  4. Carbon dioxide – This is similar to the clove oil method except it takes longer and is more drawn out. They will suffer.
  5. Alcohol – While being effective in killing your guppy, it’s very painful for them.
  6. Boiling water – As with suffocating, this causes horrible suffering before they die.

Is It Humane To Freeze Fish?

No. This procedure looks the most brutal of all the traditional techniques.

The only kind of cooling that the American Veterinary Medical Association would approve of is deep freezing an animal that is already under deep anesthesia.

The American Veterinary Medical Association does not support freezing fish as a legal means of euthanasia.

Can I Flush Dying Fish?

No. Flushing a dead fish is a terrible way to pass away from chlorine poisoning if it is not fully dead. 2 other reasons are mentioned below:

  • It could hurt your septic system.
  • It can expose nearby wildlife to infections

Learn more about euthanizing pet fish in a compassionate manner in this article or make an appointment with your aquatic veterinarian for more help if you have a sick fish.

Final thoughts

Some of our methods to avoid may seem better one the face of it but are not effective. If you don’t feel up to ending the life of your fish quickly with the blunt force method then the clove oil method is the best way for them to go.


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Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.