How To Comfort A Dying Fish

Any cold-blooded animal that lives in water breathes with gills and has fins and scales is called a fish. They were the first known animal to develop bones.

Any cold-blooded animal that lives in water breathes with gills and has fins and scales is called a fish. They were the first known animal to develop bones.

Fish make up about half of all known vertebrate species. There are over 27,000 identified species of fish on the earth and about an estimate of 15,000 fish species that have not yet been identified.

Fish have been on the planet for more than 450 million years, more than mammals. 

They are extraordinary creatures. Any of the approximately 34,000 species of vertebrate creatures (phylum Chordata) found in fresh and salt seas around the world is referred to as fish.

Jawless lampreys and hagfishes, cartilaginous sharks, skates, and rays, and plentiful and diverse bony fishes are among the living species.

Most fish are cold-blooded; however, the opah (Lampris guttatus) is a warm-blooded species.

 In this article, we’ll be looking at signs to observe when a fish is sick and how to comfort a dying fish. 

Signs to note when a fish is sick

When a fish is unwell, they occasionally become lazy and weak; there are signs that you’ll need to take note of as some of them might not be so noticeable, and they include the following;

  • Loss of appetite

Your fish will be unable to eat properly as it used to. There’ll be a decline in the food intake as it wouldn’t eat the required amount that it usually feeds on.

Once you notice a case like this, you should see a vet because it might continue for a very long time, and the health of your lovely fish might start to diminish.

Don’t always wait to confirm if the fish is ill or not; seek an expert’s directive on how to go about it. 

  • Weakness or fatigue

In this case, your fish will be less active and wouldn’t respond like it used to.

It wouldn’t swim around the water and move from side to side. It just remains dormant and moves slowly from one place to another.

It loses energy quickly and gets tired as it swims. 

  • Loss of buoyancy 

This is the inability of the fish to balance in the water.

Buoyancy is the tendency of an object to float in a fluid.

They are usually found floating upside down or sitting on the tank floor.

Although some fish usually are negatively buoyant, it takes little effort to maintain a stable position in the water. 

  • Erratic swimming or shimmying

If a fish is unwell, it’ll be seen to quiver or tremble on the surface of the water, and when a fish is swimming erratically, they often appear to float around in circles.

When this occurs, a fish is unable to regulate the air that’s going in and out of its swim bladder and may swim either upside down or on its side in an attempt to control it.

  • Staying near the surface of the water

In some cases where the fish is seen to be staying close to the water’s surface, it might likely be suffering from oxygen deprivation or toxicity from carbon dioxide.

Once you notice your fish doing this, then you need to handle it with care and probably take it to see a vet that can remedy the situation and also ensure that there are no waste and bacteria-infested objects or particles in the water because they feed on oxygen and reduce the availability of oxygen in the water for use by the fish.

  • Increased respiratory rate 

Respiration rates will typically increase as dissolved oxygen concentration decreases. This is because the amount of dissolved oxygen is pretty lower in water than in air.

There’ll be an induced or long-lasting exhalation or inhalation, which may also result from their lungs being cramped and not getting enough air to breathe properly.

If it is a respiratory system problem, then it could be parasitic infections of the gills or the presence of pathogens like Fish lice (Argulus) and anchor worms (Lernaea) 

The key to successfully treating fish diseases is to recognize the earliest signs of illness. You might also discover a social fish separating itself from the group totally and staying in a corner.

These characteristics will provide the observer with some clues that there’s something wrong with the fish. 

How To Comfort a Dying Fish 

Fish can get sick just like any other pet. I noticed that they could be adequately treated on time, but it can result in the pet’s death when it’s too late.

Below are the ways you can comfort a dying fish; 

1. Adjust The Water Temperature

As easy as this seems, it’s the most critical part of caring for a dying fish. You need first to adjust your water temperature based on the fish species because as they get older, they are more sensitive to stress.

The temperature of a cold-water fish may differ from that of a warm ea to water fish. Coldwater fish live better in lower temperatures compared to friendly water fish.

You need to know the perfect temperature range for your fish and constantly monitor it from time to time so it doesn’t get too hot and cause a decrease in the oxygen level and a loss of the fish.

It is not advisable to keep your aquarium close to a place that causes a change in water temperature quickly, like a door or a heating vent. 

Perhaps you can consider keeping the water temperature in a higher range than what they might require. 

For tropical fish, keep the aquarium around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) for cool water fish.

2. Maintain good water quality

Maintaining a good pH level for your aquarium gives your fish a very healthy and long life.

Freshwater fish has an optimum pH level between 6.8 and 7.5. Suppose there’s a change in pH greater than 0.3 – 0.5 within 24hrs it can cause a fish to become stressed or even worse.

At all times, make sure the pH levels are optimal. To preserve the life of your fish. 

It’s advisable to change your aquarium or tank water regularly so that dirt and microorganisms don’t contaminate the water, as anything you do or don’t do can influence the quality of the water.

3. Keep Your Fish Away From Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight makes the environment vulnerable for the fish. It is not advisable to keep an aquarium in a hot place as it will keep the water at a higher range and increase the temperature of the fish, thereby depleting the oxygen rate and may cause death.

Finally, make sure that the fish has a sufficient amount of light that is not too high or too low.

4. Allow your fish to rest

Rest is essential. At this point, your fish needs enough rest and should be kept in a serene environment.

Because they’re unwell, their activities will be shortened, so as a pet owner, try to make a better place where it can simply rest without any disturbance.

If possible, move the aquarium away from the noise to a quiet and comfortable place where your pet can have peace of mind.

 5. See the vet

If the fish doesn’t seem to get any better after all these steps listed, you might likely want to see a vet.

A vet would give you medications and tell you things you need to do for your pet. Since they are a professional, you should sit back and let him handle it.

If it is a parasitic infection, then it’ll be treated properly. 

Mourning The Loss Of a Fish

It is not easy saying goodbye to your loved one, but it’s time to let go and move on. To display a proper goodbye, do these;

  1. Burry your pet

Dispose of the carcass of your beloved animal in a charming place where you’d be able to visit whenever you can.

Ensure that you bury your pet beneath the ground (6ft), so it wouldn’t be easily dug out or eaten by wild animals.

It is wrong to flush off pets in the toilet as it could infect the water bodies, polluting the environment, and depleting the ecosystem.

  1. Take a break 

You can take your mind off things by going on a break or a vacation and doing something you love instead of being depressed. Loss is unexpected, and it can happen to anyone.

Do not let your mind wander and start to think about things that’ll cause you much pain. As time goes by, you’d eventually heal from the pain of losing your pet. Take your time to grieve properly, and you’ll be fine. 

  1. Everybody experiences grief differently. 

You need to acknowledge your grief and to be able to do that cry when you need to, shout when you need to, talk to someone close to you or a professional.

It is better to do things this way than bottle up your feelings and die on the inside.

You’ll be able to heal faster when you acknowledge your grief and know that it’s time to let go finally. 

4. Look After Yourself

Invest in self-care and maintain a routine to keep you busy and active. Eat a healthy balanced diet, sip tea, read a book, exercise, go out and reconnect with old friends.

Grieving the wrong way may lead to depression, anxiety, and other range of health problems. Balance your alone time with your time with others as what you do during this period matters. 

5. Accept What Has Happened

Grieving and accepting the loss of a fish can be difficult, stressful, and emotionally draining.

To cope with the loss of your pet, accept your grief, take care of yourself, and allow yourself time to grieve.

 You can also save memories of your lovely pet in a photo frame or a scrapbook, it might be too painful to look through now, but later on, you’d be glad you did.  


In this article, we’ve been able to look at the signs of a sick fish, how to comfort a dying fish, and ways to mourn the loss of a fish.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful in helping you take care of your sick fish and bid a proper farewell when necessary.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks

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