My goldfish have been sick for months. They have velvet, worms, a blood disease, and their fins are beginning to split. They are slowly becoming less active, and there’s nothing I can do. I’ve tried half a dozen medications to get rid of their various ailments, but nothing worked. The male is just over six inches long, including his tail, and the female is just over five inches long, including her tail. To give you an idea of their size, they’re about the size of my iPhone 4S. They are technically too big for their aquarium already, even though I just bought it a few months ago. I changed all of the water out a few weeks ago, and before the end of the first week the water was back to being so murky and green the fish weren’t visible if they went to the back of the tank. I have been struggling with their health and what to do with them for months, and its come to a point that I can no longer just sit and watch them die; if only for my mental health. I’ve been talking about it with M and J (the neighbors roommate) for a while, and M thinks that if I flush them I’ll only feel worse, while J thinks that dragging out their death would be cruel. I’m to the point that I agree with J, and so I finally talked to my mom about it tonight.

She talked about what options I had (flushing them, releasing them into the lake [which I was completely against for fear of spreading their antibiotic resilient parasites, and potentially harming the ecosystem] etc.) and seemed ok with the idea of letting them go. I’ve had these two for over 5 years, and even though I never named them, I have come to love them. Which is partly why watching them slowly disintegrating is not something I’m capable of doing. But when I tried to flush them tonight, my mom became extremely mad and asked if I would do the same to Sam or even her if the situation arose. She wasn’t happy with my answer. I think that at a certain point, if a being cannot speak for its self, is dying a slow and painful death, and could be put out of its misery and save months of agony for everyone, it should be done. That may be awful, but I know that if I were the one who was sick, I would want to be let go of.

Dragging out these fishes deaths isn’t going to do them any good. Its certainly not going to do them any good. If Sam gets to the point that he is no longer able to walk, or if his heart condition gets so bad that he’s not able to breathe, I will put him down. I will let him go, because it would break my heart to watch him suffer. And the same for my mother.

Because these fish are so messy, I have to do water changes every day to keep the water clear (I did that for a few days and my mom got mad and told me I had to stop wasting water). I have been instructed by her to let these fish die slowly, even if it takes months, because they should be allowed to go when its their time and not before. My trouble is, how can I be this emotional and say that these fish shouldn’t be put down before their time, to put them out of their misery, but still eat meat. How can anyone call this sort of thing murder, and then eat meat? It’s all the same thing.

I’m tired of having dying animals. Its destroying me, having creatures at the end of their lives. To have spent so many years with them, and then watch them slowly decaying away; its unbearable. I’m a person who enjoys setting up ecosystems to watch the prosperity that they create. The monotonous march to death that occurs towards the end of a creature’s life is not where I am suited. My mother does much better with those kinds of things, as she does with those who are already dead. I’m the other end of the spectrum though, and that’s what makes this situation even harder I think.

So I’ve come to ask all of you what you think I should do. These may be ‘just fish’ but the ethical dilemma I face is something that may very well occur again during the course of my life. Do I sit idly by, hating every moment of it, while a voiceless creature dies a slow and agonizing death, or do I end their lives “early” and save them months of pain? Do I kill my goldfish?