Sea Life

How to Tell if a Fish is Dead?

How to Tell if a Fish is Dead

The death of the fish is what every fish owner has to face. When a pet fish of any type or species dies, it is disposed of by using a convenient way like either burying it down in the backyard near the plants or cremating it properly, or wrapping it up and putting it into the waste, respectfully. But before doing so, it is very important to check whether the fish is actually dead or not so that you do not dispose of an alive fish by mistake. 

Sometimes, the sleeping or resting fish are misunderstood as dead fish. So, disposing of the fish must not be done in a hurry and it is important to first make sure that the fish you are about to dispose of is not breathing.

Factors That Must be Considered to Tell That the Fish is Dead

Some fish, for instance, catfish, sleep in such a way that may confuse the people that the fish is dead so it is important to observe the fish very carefully. When a fish sinks down into the water, people assume that it is dead. Similarly, some people believe that when the fish floats above the water’s surface, it is an indication that the fish is dead. But, it all depends on the species of the fish, some types of fish float above the water surface when they die and some sink down. So, there is much more to consider before declaring a fish as dead. 

Check the Movement of its Gills

When the fish dies, it stops moving its gills. But, there are also some kinds of fish that breathe through their mouth. It varies in different species of fish. So, it is important to observe the movement of their gills, their mouth, and their whole body for a few minutes very carefully. If it completely stops moving and there is no movement in its body even for once, it may be an indication that your fish is dead. But, it is not a clear indication or proof that the fish is dead. There is much more to consider to know that the fish is actually no more.

Check the Eyes of the Fish

It is also important to check the eyes of the fish for any movement. You should observe very deeply and carefully so that you do not miss a movement. If the eyes are sunken down and do not look the same as they were before, this is also a signal that the fish might be dead. Moreover, if the eyes of the fish feel cloudy, it is another big indication that the fish is dead. However, it is normal for some of species of fish to have cloudiness in the eyes. So, you need to further consider some other factors.

Tease the Fish 

After observing and knowing that the fish is not moving for so long and it seems like it has not been breathing, you can tease or touch the fish using a straw or a spoon. If the fish is alive, it will show a little bit of movement but if it is dead it will not move for even once.

Take the Fish Out of the Aquarium

After doing all the above mentioned things, you can take the fish out of the aquarium. Using the net is the most useful and convenient way to do so. While taking the fish out of the aquarium, if it does not move or strives to go back, it is a clear indication that the fish is probably dead.

Smell the Fish

Lastly, you need to smell the fish. If it smells bad and pungent unlike the other alive fish, it confirms that the fish is no longer alive. After confirming that the fish is dead, wrap it up in a zip-lock bag to keep the environment clean and healthy.

Why is it Important to Know That the Fish is Dead?

The dead fish when kept in the aquarium releases toxic gases that are harmful for the other fish (if there are some more fish living in the same aquarium). Moreover, the dead and decaying fish has a bad and pungent smell that makes it difficult for the other fish to survive. It is also hazardous for the other fish in the aquarium if they try to eat the dead fish. So, it is important not only to know instantly that the fish is dead but also to change the water of the aquarium after taking the dead fish out of the aquarium.

The Bottom Line 

There are multiple that should be considered before declaring the fish dead. Firstly, observe the fish for any movement carefully for some time. If it does not move, observe the eyes for any cloudiness. If the eyes of the fish are sunken and cloudy, try to move the fish and take the fish out, if it does not show any movement on touching and taking it out and if it smells bad, you can say that the fish is dead.

About the author

Hadia Atiq

A Writer passionate about learning and spreading the knowledge of sea life. I like to spread the knowledge of different types and species of fish and other aquatic creatures.