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First, mix 1 ml clove oil (can be obtained from a pharmacy or health food store) with 9 mls vodka to make a 10 ml stock solution.  Place the fish in a container with one gallon of water and add the 10 mls of clove oil and vodka to the one gallon of water, and the fish will just go to sleep quietly with no  struggle. Clove oil (eugenol) is used as an anesthetic in fish for surgery, and the vodka is necessary so that the clove oil will dissolve in the water.  Its always very sad and a difficult situation when we have to make a decision to euthanize any pet, but this method is very gentle and is the best way to euthanize a fish.
FWIW, my 2 cents is that there is only one or two guaranteed quick and (relatively) painless ways to euthanize fish. If the fish is large you can slice it right behind the gills or for smaller fish that are impossible to hold you can just net them and slam them hard against the floor, hard enough to kill them with the first blow. I've also thought the garbage disposal may be a good option for the squeamish.

Other ideas that I don't particularly agree are quick or painless; putting the fish in a diluted vodka cocktail, using an overdose of tranquilizer, or putting them in the freezer.
Bottom line is you do what you are personally comfortable with. I was forced to euthanize a pretty little female guppy recently. After some soul searching, I put her in one of those long bags you bring fish home from your LFS in, drained out the water and very quickly "snapped" it *HARD* on the widow sill. She never knew what hit her. Only had to do it once. :_(
Feed it to your Oscar or Jack Dempsy. There IS NO humane way to kill a fish or anything else for that matter. Just grit your teeth and do it. No don't flush it down the toilet
On the other hand, it might pass the disease on to the Oscar... If it's questionable about whether it's a disease or not, I'd stay away from that treatment...
I have heard that a solution of ice water does the job somewhat effectively. I personally prefer the sudden lethal blow technique. I also have the luxury of completing the circle of life by feeding the poor soul to the cichlids
I have to disagree with the ice cold water job... i once had to do this with a gourami, but it took ages for the gourami to die :o(. My best preferred method is by using a bottle of "anti fungus & finrot" treatment no 8. It contains phenoxyethanol, which is a anesthetic. in low concentrations, it will cure fungus, at higher concentrations, it anesthetizes them, and a large concentration will kill them. This is the best way to do it as it firstly anaesthetizes them then kills them => no pain!
My preferred method: use a fish anaesthetic called Finquel MS-222. An overdose will peacefully euthanize a fish. You can purchase a small bottle of the stuff for under $10 from Argent Chemicals. Their website is
I always put mine in a cup of water and then put them in the freezer.  This method gradually slows them down until they pass.  I think that this method provides the least suffering.
I don't know about the freezing method, because I don't think that slowly freezing to death would be very fun (even if you do go brain numb after a while), but the one time that I've had to euthanize one of my fishies, I used a similar method. Instead of putting the fish in the freezer, you drop them into ice water. Supposedly quite quick & painless.... The vodka method sounds good if you have some of it around though....
If ya really need to off their existence the method I have been told that is most humane is to freeze them. Place fish in a small Tupperware type a carton and set it in the freezer. They get brain numb before the actual death point and do not really suffer at all. It makes sense brain wise and is kinda natural in method.
Lloyd and Monte Bickel of betta fame had a large black arrowana in an 130 gallon tank named Barney.  He tok care of their culls.  I was also told by Monte in a quieter moment that another way to cull was to place the fish in a bag and put it in the refrigerator.  The betta then just went to sleep. The best way is to find a fish store that will trade you for supplies, live food, etc.  Sometimes they'll even buy them.  Bonnie McKinley of betta fame used to trade a betta or two for live food.
Personally I don't/wouldn't cull my fish, but if you are one of those that do...(which I have no problem with) I think the easiest way (on both fish and human) is to put the fish in a small container of water and put it in the freezer. This is supposed to be painless.



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