Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Unwanted Fish
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Unwanted Fish

for the week of 12/3/98

The problem of having to get rid of one or more fish happens to every successful aquarist eventually. Maybe one outgrew the tank or is too mean; maybe a move to Tahiti forces you to unload a whole tankful; maybe you just want to try something new; or maybe a fish appears to be suffering and near death. What do you do?

First, let's address what not to do. Even though it's tempting and seems humane, aquarium fish must never be released in a natural pond, creek, river, or anywhere else in the wild. Non-native species can sometimes endanger or eliminate native species by out-competing them, eating their fry, or otherwise upsetting the balance of the local ecosystem. And even if the aquarium fish themselves do not pose a direct threat, parasites and other organisms on their bodies might. Just in case these are not reason enough, bear in mind that it is probably illegal in your state as well. Here are better alternatives:

Trade or give them away to another aquarist. There's probably somebody in town that wants just the fish you're trying to get rid of. Check with any friends, co-workers or neighbors that you know are fishkeepers. If there's a local aquarium club, you should already be in it; if not see if you can announce your need at a meeting or post an ad in their newsletter.

Trade or give them away to the local fish store. Some aquarium/pet stores recognize that hobbyists occassionally need to unload a specimen or two - and that some hobbyists need to get rid of a couple of fish to make room for a whole lot more. Some only accept only free donations, while others pay small amounts - usually in terms of other fish - for trade-ins. Price is partly determined by the wholesale value of your items and whether or not the dealer has an actual need for them. For example, a ten inch oscar is a lot less valuable to a dealer when he already has a dozen of them.

Euthanization. Sometimes, especially if a fish appears to be in very poor health, the aquarist will need to put it out of its misery. Several methods can be employed, including a sharp blow to the head area, cutting the spinal cord immediately behind the head, freezing, or immersing the fish in carbonated water.

"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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