Coping with Fish Loss

Saying goodbye is never easy.

It’s not what we want to do.

But sometimes we find ourselves in that position…

… of finding a fish we love has passed on, or having to euthanize to end its suffering.

The pain is so real, so intense.

That aching knife-in-the-gut feeling when you think about it.


Some people find it hard to believe that you can experience any kind of grief over the loss of a fish.

But the truth is, fish aren’t toys or decorations.

They are pets.

We fish owners bond with them, grow attached to them, and when they die, it can deeply affect us.

Like all pets, they become like part of our family to us.

People who think otherwise might not understand this. They might say things that only pour salt on the wound, trying to help us feel better.

“Fish are short-lived anyway.”

“Just get another one.”

“There’ll be more like it where it came from.”

“It’s only a fish.”

It can be hard to hear those things while we are suffering, but remember – they didn’t ever have the amazing experience of loving a fish like you did or the sorrow of losing one.

If they did, they wouldn’t say that, so don’t be too upset about it.

Coping With the Pain of Loss

A word of advice:

It can be tempting to try to totally smother your emotions so you don’t feel the pain.

But bottling it up will only affect you negatively, and will come out sooner or later in ways you might not realize.

Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process.  In fact, actively go through it – don’t run away from it, trying to deal with it later.  Embrace it as part of the journey to healing.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Let the tears run freely. Crying is a very good way to release all those feelings inside. Don’t be embarrassed or feel guilty for having a good bawl.
  • If possible, find a sympathetic loved one or friend to cry or talk with. Sometimes we just need to tell people what we’re going through. If that person likes animals, even better.
  • You might feel angry or frustrated. This is totally normal. Maybe let yourself vent a bit doing something to let off some steam, like exercise.
  • Write down your thoughts in a diary. Sometimes we don’t want to talk to other people because they don’t “get it.”
  • If you don’t have someone to talk with, join a goldfish support group. These are people who have most likely dealt with fish loss and have gone through exactly what you are going through too. And they won’t be as likely to give you a hard time about your feelings.
  • If you still have fish or other pets, spend some time with them and think about being grateful you still have them in your life. It can really help lift your spirits.
  • Bury your fish in a special way. Honor the influence they had on your life – don’t just throw them in the trash or flush them in the toilet. Find a special burial site, such as in a garden or below a tree and commemorate it with flowers or a marker.

This is a beautiful engraved stone with a fitting sentiment:

(You can see more ideas for honoring the passing of your deceased fish here in a special way)

“I’ll never get another fish again – they will only die!” You might say.

You might want to protect yourself from ever having to experience this again.

People have this response to grief in relationships too. They think they can never let themselves get too “wrapped up” in someone else in case they let them down.

My friend, please don’t give up.

Losing a pet actually teaches us two important and valuable life lessons.

  1. Don’t go through life afraid to love for fear of the pain of loss, or you will never know the joy of true companionship and intimate relationships.
  2. On the other extreme, don’t put so much of yourself into someone else that you would be completely dysfunctional without them.

Pain isn’t always pleasant. But it means you loved well.

Here is a little note you can write to bury with your fish:

“Name_of_Your_fish_here, I loved you. I loved you enough to give you the best home I could, to take good care of you while you were mine as best as I could, to enjoy every moment spent with you. I hope you knew that during your time with me. And when it was time to say goodbye, I loved you enough to go through the sorrow of having to let go – it hurts because I loved you so much, and because I wanted to see you live for many more years to come. You were my friend, you brought a smile to my face whenever I was lonely or sad. You cheered me up after a long day. You captured my heart from the moment I saw you, and I never did grow tired of watching you swim through the water. Your kisses on my fingers made me laugh. You had a personality all your own; you were special, so special to me, and I think you loved me too. And I will always miss you. It hurts to think of you right now because I miss you so much. Though the hurt will go away in time, I will never forget you and the difference you made in my life.”

You Will Feel Better

It might not seem like it now, but in time, you will heal.

Maybe it’s hard to think about your pet right now. The memories only make tears well up in your eyes.

Memories can be bitter initially.

It might take a few weeks or months, but the memories will be sweeter once the pain is gone.

Right now you are probably thinking about the last part of your fish’s life, and those can be some sad memories, especially if you were dealing with an illness. 🙁

But take heart:

You will be able to remember things about your fish that are pleasant instead of painful. So keep their photos or videos and don’t give away everything you see that reminds you of them. Later on you can come back to these without the same heartache and even enjoy them.

You’ll remember the good times of their life in time.

Dealing with Any Guilt

There are various things that cause a goldfish to die – some you probably didn’t even know about.

If you lost your fish due to a mistake on your part, you may find the feelings of guilt to be very strong mingled with grief, which only makes everything worse.

People make mistakes.

We don’t do our research soon enough.

We act too soon or too late.

We get lazy or busy.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to recognize when you could have done something better, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

You may have done all that you could, and it was time no matter what. There are situations like that where it really wasn’t your fault.

Either way, you loved your fish and wouldn’t have wanted anything bad to happen to them.

And one thing about fish is they don’t harbor any bitter feelings.

What About Getting Another Fish?

It can be comforting to think of getting another goldfish or other fish. After all, it’s always exciting to get another pet.

But quick tip:

Give it enough time.

It can be tempting to try to get a new fish as quickly as possible to fill the void, but give yourself the space to fully heal before getting another pet.

Getting a new pet too soon can make it hard for you to love them like you should.


Some people try really hard to find a fish exactly like the one they lost.

Really, they are trying to replace that fish because they want their old fish back so badly.

This is just my opinion:

As hard as it sounds, you can’t bring that fish back.

Even if you find one that looks just like it, the personality is totally different and you might find yourself feeling resentful to the new fish, placing unrealistic expectations on it. No two fish are ever the same.

If you do decide to get a new fish, you could end up disappointed and unhappy if you are trying to do that.

It’s important to appreciate your new fish for who he or she really is 🙂

How About You?

If you feel like talking about things with others, don’t forget to join our support group.

Has this article helped encourage you?

Let me know what you think.

5 100% from 28 ratings
Rating 5 100%


  1. Darren Stables January 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    So glad that I’m not the only person to grieve over a loss of goldfish. She died on Thursday age approx 13 . It’s like losing a family member yes I know it will get easier but at the moment I am heartbroken

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 22, 2018 at 12:28 am - Reply

      It is very hard. I’m so sorry you lost your fish :'( You’ll get through it, hang in there <3

  2. Anshika February 6, 2018 at 9:26 am - Reply

    I just lost a my goldfish and it is just so painful to even think that its gone. It taught me so much bout life and I m still in tears

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish February 11, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry Anshika :'( Goldfish do teach us about life. They give us so much happiness but it is so hard when they leave us…

  3. Finnigan Moran April 9, 2018 at 1:23 am - Reply

    My fish Drake age 7 was so sick and was suffering so bad it hurt to watch so u decided to euthanize him and I feel so much guilt for not being better .. it hurts but I feel a little better reading this

    Rating: 3
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 15, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry for your loss 🙁 It truly does hurt.

  4. Emerson May 22, 2018 at 2:43 am - Reply

    This is all so true, My black moor may die, He has a bladder disease, I have had him for four years. Im 15 and I feel like such a wuss crying, but I can’t help It, I love my little guy…

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish May 27, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Don’t feel bad about crying Emerson. Losing fish is very hard. Hopefully he will make it.

    • A Person August 20, 2018 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Emerson. My fish had the same problem as yours! :'(

      Rating: 5
  5. Melissa Goosmann August 25, 2018 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Your page gave me incredible comfort today. I am on vacation and found out from my friend that my telescope fish Apollo died. It was so unexpected he was such a happy, loving fish. He shares a bowl with Newton and they loved eachother. We only have had them since March but they are such a part of our family. I surrounded their bowl with toys so they always had fun things to look at. I have been crying nonstop today …I feel awful about his death. I can’t help thinking he was living his happy fish life and had no idea he was going to die. I am heartbroken and worried for Newton. We loved him so much , took videos and talked to them nonstop. He knew us …was so excited and would pucker at the top of the bowl whenever we were in the room. It’s such a loss , to have a page like this has been such a comfort. Thank u , from my heart

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 31, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry for your loss, Melissa. Glad the article could help some <3

  6. Holly August 27, 2018 at 4:02 am - Reply

    My black moor died today from a bladder disease and I feel so sad. I’ve had him for years and he was like a best friend to me. It killed me the last couple of days seeing how much pain he was in 🙁 I miss him so much. I just want him back :'(

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish August 31, 2018 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      That really is so sad, Holly, I’m sorry for the loss of your moor :'(

  7. Loodle September 12, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    My Amazing Black Moor Pablo died today, he was poorly and I came home from work to check on him during my lunch break and he was dead staring through the bottom of my tank. I am absolutely devastated & I cannot stop crying.
    I have plenty of videos and pictures, but it’s not the same. I feel ridiculous getting this upset over a fish but I am heartbroken.
    He had such a personality, always coming to the front of the tank and enjoyed listening to music.
    I’ll always love you Pab x

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish September 17, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      So sorry about Pablo 🙁

  8. JULIE A TUCK October 16, 2018 at 1:38 am - Reply

    I lost my fantail named Ying yesterday. Very sad. I loved her.

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish October 19, 2018 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry Julie. RIP Ying <3

  9. Sophie October 28, 2018 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    I lost my calico ryukin Kelly yesterday…i feel like my heart was being torn out watching her die, she had dropsy that could not be treated. Ive cryed so much… 🙁

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish October 29, 2018 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry Sophie, Kelly will be greatly missed! Dropsy is so horrible…

  10. Athanasia Baxevani November 10, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    I am truly heartbroken, today i had to euthanize my baby goldfish named Bacon…. i think it was my fault she got sick 🙁 hard to deal with it…

    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish November 11, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry for your loss of Bacon, Athanasia 🙁

  11. Jacky November 24, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    My last 4 goldfishes are slowly dying due to disease. One of them used to always look at me, curiously checking out what I was doing all the time. Now he’s floating sideways, but seems like he’s asking me for help yet I’ve done everything I could already. It’s so upsetting knowing he could be gone when I wake up in the morning. Never thought I would cry over pet fishes but it’s been 2.5 years…they’ve become something so normal to see everyday, similar to checking our phones in the morning when we wake up. It’s gonna be so strange with an empty tank…but thanks for the article, it really helps

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish November 27, 2018 at 12:19 am - Reply

      I’m sorry Jacky, glad the article helped.

  12. Sophie December 28, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you for writing this article. My dwarf gourami, Prominence, died yesterday :'( and reading this really helped me deal with my grief.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish December 31, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad it helped you Sophie! So sorry about your gourami Prominence.

  13. Raymond pugh January 4, 2019 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    ray I go to bed every night hoping my goldfish is ok in the morning- I love it so much I’ve had it over four years. Is tank is next to me I talk to her none stop every day I pray I can look after her for a long healthy life I love it so much as I love all animals being are vegetarian l don’t like to see any animals suffer thank you for your comment page-

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 7, 2019 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Pets have such a special place in our hearts!!

  14. Michael January 17, 2019 at 2:48 am - Reply

    I loss my betta fish today. His name was Blue. He was the first pet my wife and I had. He Always followed my finger when it’s near him. He used to swim everywhere when I come home. Sad to see him go 🙁 miss him already.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 17, 2019 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry about Blue, Michael. You really can get attached to betta fish just like another pet. They have their own personalities that make us love them so much.

  15. Caitlyn Yu January 18, 2019 at 3:39 am - Reply

    My fish is on the verge of dying from fin disease. I’m trying to prepare for it but it hurt to think of love without my little Archie. He’s my baby I hate to see him suffer like this I feel horrible, like it’s all my fault I can’t take it I want him to be happy and healthy and I know once he passes he will be in a better place but I can’t live without him. Losing a fish that you have cared for is like losing a part you will never get back

    Rating: 4
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 18, 2019 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      It is a very painful thing for sure. If the fish is suffering though it may be best to euthanize as hard as it is, because even though its very sad and heartbreaking you won’t look back regretting that he suffered so long. So sorry 🙁

  16. Sarah January 26, 2019 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I just lost my fantail Roger a few days back. Had him for 2 years, hard to believe he’s actually gone. It’s hard looking at the tank and not seeing him swimming around and coming up to the glass when he sees me.

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish January 29, 2019 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Sorry for your loss of Roger, Sarah!

  17. Jeff & Candy February 7, 2019 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Our best friend Naira, a small koi living with goldfish in our outside pond is so sick from fungus and will go to the pond in the sky soon… a wonderful place with lilies and bubbles and lots of other happy fish… such a little character and we will miss him terribly . We got him almost 5 years ago as a rescue fish when he was already 3 and he’s part of the family. Safe journey Naira, it’s been a privilege.

    Rating: 4.5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish February 8, 2019 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Naira sounds like he will be very missed.

  18. Amaya February 8, 2019 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I lost my fish that I had for a year and it makes me sad knowing I could have prevented it 😢 I had just cleaned out her fish tank and I just put her in the water without letting her get used to it I’m gonna miss her 😖😭

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish February 10, 2019 at 2:40 am - Reply

      Sorry for your loss Amaya. :'(

  19. Ali March 2, 2019 at 7:28 am - Reply

    My platy fish called Jim died yesterday. I am heartbroken and the worst thing is I don’t know what killed him. I followed the books and leaflets I got from the pet shop but he still passed. I have another fish who is helping me get over the loss of Jim. I am blessed that Tim is alive (my other fish) and thank you for this article it helped ease my pain.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 4, 2019 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      I’m happy to hear it made you feel a little better, Ali.

  20. George Wilson March 15, 2019 at 1:35 am - Reply

    I only had my fish for like a month and I can’t even think about him without tearing up, it’s been a few months since his death and I still can’t stand it.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      It is so hard, I’m sorry you’re going through this 🙁

  21. Carla Steele March 16, 2019 at 8:56 am - Reply

    It’s so hard all I want is my baby back in the tank he was 4 years old I had to end his suffering he had dropsy his head was an inch away from his tail the vet told me to buy clove oil, she said he was in pain but I can’t stop cry I didn’t want to do it. Want him back dose it get any better? Im in such a mess it’s happened yesterday.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 18, 2019 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      It does get better over time, it’s the worst initially. Sorry for your loss, dropsy is a horrible disease!

  22. Jordan J March 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    My betta, Cosmo, just passed away only a couple of days ago due to a sickness. Even though I didn’t really have Cosmo for very long, I really miss him. I get a sad feeling whenever I enter my room knowing that Cosmo isn’t there in his tank next my desk. I also feel like Cosmo’s death was my fault, I knew he had a sickness and was suffering from it, so I tried treat him, but nothing was working. I felt like I was doing something wrong and if I knew better he would be alive. I just wish Cosmo got to live a longer life, he really was a great betta, he was so energetic, curious, and made me smile. Thanks for the article, it made me feel a little better.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish March 26, 2019 at 12:09 am - Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss of Cosmo Jordan, he sounds like such a special fish.

  23. Kat April 10, 2019 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad I found this site – I am devastated after discovering a heron on our pond this morning who has taken half of our beloved pet koi. My partner had been cleaning the pond at the weekend and forgotten to put the protective net back on :-((
    I opened the blinds to see the huge heron at the pond so I rushed down to discover a horrible scene of pools of blood and one of our fish dead on the side. It looks like we have lost 7 or 8, but I hoping that a couple of the smaller ones may still be hiding but these hopes are quickly fading. Our particularly cherished babies were Budgie and Ariel – who were only a couple of years old and were becoming such beautiful kois with their own individual personalities. Budgie had always been a very brave fish from day one with bags of energy so I know he wouldn’t have gone down without a fight… I’m struggling even more because the more I think about it, I think that it might have been him I could see in the herons mouth as he flew off when I ran down. :-((((((( I know it is nature, but I feel like we have let them down so badly as we should have protected them better. Am heartbroken.
    I utterly adore all animals and our pets are every bit as equal as every other member of our family. I”m finding it so hard to take it in and very thankful that this site exists to get some support. Love to you all x

    Rating: 5
  24. Jon April 13, 2019 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks. I had to euthanize my little fish yesterday and tried to use clove oil, and it did stun him, but then when I gave the final dose he woke up and panicked, so I felt pretty terrible about it. But I know I did the right thing since he was going to suffer soon due to the tumor he got, if I didn’t let him go. It was way harder than I realized and I felt a lot of guilt that his last moment was panicked, but I think on balance he knew he was loved and had a good life in the tank for over 5 years, so his life was good still. Thanks for posting that.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Sounds like you did the right thing for sure, even though its hard!

  25. Can't Maintain 🐉 April 19, 2019 at 5:12 am - Reply

    I just lost my betta, Dragon. His filter’s plug fell out of the socket (my house isn’t the best) while we were on spring break. I live in Chicago and we got hit with a heckton of snow. We we’re going to take him to my grandma’s but if we had gone out that far (she lives in the suburbs,) we might have all died. The guy at the pet store told me to put a little bit of one of those long-lasting fish feeder things in and suspend it with a string, he even recommended me a brand. He gave me one specific instruction, don’t let it pollute the water. The filter got unplugged and the water
    … I’m guessing you can put it together. He was such a beautiful, vibrant, dark blue boy. He was brave and fiesty, a little grumpy at times. He would follow my finger and keep me company at night (I get super nervous during certain hours of the night). Everytime I here a noise I get up and run over to his tank just to see him lying there dead (we discovered him like theory minutes ago and I don’t have any other fish, Dad won’t let me burry him until tomorrow. I’m super distraught. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him, he was dead when I finally got home. I only had him for less than a year, maybe 10 months. I’m a seasoned pet owner, I’ve obviously had someone die on me before, but this one hurts so much because I know I could have prevented it. I don’t want to tell my grandma because she loved him but I know I have to. People keep telling me that it’s ok and that it wasn’t my fault but.. that’s not really true. It’s not ok. Dragon died and there’s no way to get him back. I don’t know what happens when we die but I hope there’s an afterlife so he can be there.

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 19, 2019 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear about Dragon 🙁 He sounded like such a special guy who will be sorely missed.

  26. Ryan April 22, 2019 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    My fish probaly died over easter weekend I was with my dad on easter weekend, He was a half moon male beta named sniffy because when I got him he looked liked he was sniffing auround the little petco container, I blame my sister for this I told her to feed him while i was gone and this morning I saw him floating near the top he was also rotted, I’ll miss him can you help me

    Rating: 5
    • Pure Goldfish
      Pure Goldfish April 22, 2019 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      Sorry for your loss of Sniffy 🙁 Probably not your sister’s fault, bettas can go for up to 14 days without food before starving to death.

  27. Ryan April 22, 2019 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you

    Rating: 5
  28. Ryan April 22, 2019 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    It was probaly just his time to go

    Rating: 5

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