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How to Cope With the Loss of a Pet Fish: 5 Techniques That Help
Losing a pet is heartbreaking and sad, but there are many special ways in which you can cherish the deceased fish and make memorable artwork and creative burials for them. Fish may be in their world underwater, but many owners form a bond with their pet fish.
Fish are intelligent and fascinating, and most can outlive many other types of pets. This means your fish will have been in your life for a while and they will be able to recognize you as their owners when they beg for food.
Coming to Terms
Fish get ill quite easily, and most treatments for fatal illnesses are not successful. It is difficult to watch your fish get worse as the illness progresses. It is common to feel helpless in such a situation, as there are limited things you can do when your fish is suffering from certain pathogens or infections. When they pass it is usually hard to come to terms with. This article will help you learn techniques to cope with the loss of your pet fish and inform you on different types of burials you can do to preserve them in your life.
Why Did Your Fish Die?
Different types of pets have different lifespans. Goldfish can live anywhere between 5 to 18 years, whereas betta fish usually live up to 3 years. The type of fish in your aquarium will have a varying life expectancy and some will pass sooner than others.
Fish are prone to a variety of illnesses even before they enter your tank. If you do not quarantine new fish for several weeks before you add them into the main tank, they pose a risk of passing pathogens that will make the other fish in the aquarium sick. This can be a problem as fish will usually own show signs of illness when the illness has already progressed. Treating your fish according to its symptoms is the best option in this case. However, many treatments will not be able to save your fish and they will eventually succumb to their illness.
Another reason fish pass away early is by keeping them in unsuitable conditions. Small aquaria, no filters or air stones, and an uncycled tank is one of the top reasons so many fish die when people first get them. Extensive research should be done on each fish you get so that you can ensure that you are providing them with a species-appropriate environment.
A silent killer in many aquariums is the water quality. Elevated levels of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate are toxic to fish and can kill them within hours. This makes it important to do regular water testing and change the water frequently. Chlorine in tap water can kill fish if it is not treated with an aquatic dechlorinate according to the dosages on the label.
5 Techniques to Cope with The Loss of a Pet Fish
1. Talk to an understanding friend or family member
Talking to someone about the favorite things about the deceased fish and what quirky behaviors the fish had can help you to share the bond you had with your pet fish, and it is reassuring to have another person understand how you are feeling after the loss.
Even if you do not have the best artistic skills, creating a drawing or painting of the deceased fish can help you to have a constant visual reminder of their beauty and features. Keeping the artwork up on display is a special way to immortalize them.
If you are not the type of person who wants to tell others about how you are feeling after your fish has passed, you could write down your feelings in a journal. You will be able to freely express your thoughts without feeling judged. It can also help to declutter your mind.
4. Fish support groups or forums
Joining a community of fish keepers can make the experience less difficult. Other fish keepers have most likely gone through difficult fish deaths and can sympathize and relate to your experience. You can also share your favorite pictures of your fish and tell the community some details about them.
5. Exercise and other activities
Instead of being cooped up in your room or isolating yourself, try various activities that you love. Exercise raises endorphins which can boost your mood. Other therapeutic activities are gardening, going shopping, an outing with friends, helping out at a local animal shelter, or even taking a self-care day and get your hair or nails done.
Creative Burials for Deceased Fish
Planning what to do with the fish’s body after it passes can be tricky. Fortunately, there are several ways to create a memorable burial for your beloved fish.
- Author’s note: Never flush a fish down the toilet or place them into indigenous waterways. This is a hazard for wild species that will be exposed to captive aquarium pathogens.
Dealing with Guilt
Sometimes when a fish passes, it is normal to feel guilty about the situation. You may have been too busy and forgotten to do a water change, or maybe you forgot the switch the heater back on after a power outage. It is important to understand that these are mistakes, and you should take time to forgive yourself. Remember fish keeping is a long journey full of learning opportunities. It is okay to feel guilty, but do not be too harsh on yourself as many people have made the same mistakes as you have.
When to Get Another Fish
Getting a new fish right away may not be something everyone will consider, but many people deal with loss differently. Some people may prefer to get a new fish a few days later. There is nothing wrong with this and is a therapeutic way to give another fish a loving home.
It is important to make sure no leftover pathogens are in the tank the fish passed in. It should be sterilized and cycled before a new fish is placed inside. This does not apply to community tanks where multiple fish live, but the new fish should still be quarantined.
For some people, getting a new fish right away is not a good option. You should wait till you are ready to own another fish again and not feel like you are replacing the deceased fish.
As sad as it is to lose a pet fish, it is bound to happen to all fish keepers. Even the experts deal with fish deaths regularly. However, by providing a good home with all the appropriate equipment and a large tank, you can rest assured knowing that you gave the fish the best possible life.
Featured Image Credit: Nature and Life, Shutterstock
Sarah Psaradelis is an avid young writer with dual passions for literature and animals. She enjoys sharing knowledge of animal care and helping others. Sarah has over 8 years of writing experience and is currently studying veterinary science. She resides in South Africa with her supportive partner who shares the same love for animals. She takes care of 25 fish, aquarium snails, dogs, and rodents. When she is not writing, she is researching animalsl or instructing a sports pole dance class. Sarah is a passionate vegan activist and animal rescuer pursuing her path to make the world a better place.
- Coming to Terms
- Why Did Your Fish Die?
- 5 Techniques to Cope with The Loss of a Pet Fish
- Creative Burials for Deceased Fish
- Dealing with Guilt
- When to Get Another Fish