What To Do With Unwanted Fish – We Explore the Answers!

Alison Page

Alison Page


What To Do With Unwanted Fish

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Is your fish tank overstocked with fish? Are you looking for creative ways to find a new home for your unwanted fishies?

Whether you have one or several fish that need a new home, read this guide to learn how to find a loving and responsible owner for your finned friends.

Key Takeaways

  • Donation and Relocation Avenues: Suggests various ethical ways to find new homes for unwanted fish, including donation to public aquaria, contacting environmental organizations, or giving fish to a responsible aquarist.
  • Risks of Improper Disposal: Highlights the major issues with two incorrect disposal methods: releasing fish into the wild and flushing them down the toilet, both posing serious ethical and environmental risks.
  • Growth and Tank Size Management: Offers practical advice for fish that outgrow their tanks, encouraging owners to consider upsizing their tanks while providing a cautionary tale about anticipating fish growth.

How Can I Get Rid of Fish I Don’t Want Anymore?

Consider Donating Fish to a Local Aquarium or Zoo

While it may not be the simplest solution, often, the best thing you can do for an unwanted pet fish is to donate it to a nearby aquarium or zoo. Most places are always in need of new fish, and professionals will make sure your donated animal receives the care needed to live a healthy life.

Before giving away your fish, you’ll want to verify with the receiving organization that they can take in your type of fish. Also, it is important to ask about their quarantine procedures to confirm that your fish will be kept healthy.

Contact a Local Environmental Organization for Help

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or Habitattitude U.S. are organizations you can contact to get help when relocating your fish locally. To reach out to them, go to their website’s contact page and explain your situation via email or phone call.

These types of organizations might be able to give you suggestions on where to take it. They could tell you about a nearby aquarium or fish enthusiast group that would love to have your fish.

If you live in Canada, you can contact the Habitattitude branch there. Also, you might have luck connecting with local environmental organizations through social media platforms.

Donate Your Fish to a School or Business

Whether it be a doctor’s office, dentist, or any other type of business, many have aquariums in their waiting areas to add more of an aesthetic appeal.

Consider donating your unwanted fish to one of these businesses. The chances are the recipient will be glad to rehome your unwanted pets, provided they have enough space in their tank.

Give the Fish Away to Another Hobbyist

Another option for finding a new home for your unwanted fish is to look for other hobbyists in your area who might be interested in taking them on. You can do that by searching online forums, forums specific to aquarium enthusiasts, or reaching out to hobbyist groups locally through email or social media platforms.

If you are lucky, you may be able to find someone willing to take your fish even if they don’t currently have a tank. Just make sure that you ask the person about their experience and any quarantine procedures to ensure that your fish gets off to a good start in its new home!

Sell Your Fish Online

If your fish is particularly high quality or an unusual species, you can often get a good price for it by selling it online. Many websites and forums cater to hobbyists who are looking for rare or special types of fish, and if yours fits the bill, that could be a great option for finding them a new home quickly.

To start selling your fish online, you should create a listing that includes photos of your fish. Be sure to provide any information about the type or breed, size, and condition that potential buyers will want to know as well.

Also, you can reach out to local aquarium shops, fish clubs, or hobbyist groups in your area to ask if they would be interested in buying any unwanted fish.

Plus, you should mention any disease or genetic abnormalities that your fish might have to deter any potential buyers who aren’t looking for a high-maintenance pet.

When selling your fish online, be sure to make it clear that the sale is final and nonrefundable. And remember always to exercise caution when meeting up with buyers, especially if you are not familiar with them.

Give Your Fish to a Friend or Family Member

If you have a friend or family member who is interested in fish but doesn’t currently own one, consider giving your unwanted pet to them.

This can be a great option if your friend or relative is knowledgeable about fish care and has a suitable tank already set up for their new pet.

Additionally, this can be a great way to save money on equipment and supplies, as you won’t have to pay for anything if your friend or relative is willing to take the fish off your hands.

To make sure that your friend or relative is ready to take on the new responsibilities of caring for an aquarium, give them all the information they will need about your fish’s typical diet, care needs, and behaviors.

If you have any extra supplies or equipment for your aquarium that you are no longer using, offer them to your friend or relative as well.

Take Your Fish Back to the Store

If you are not able to find anyone who wants your species of fish, or if you would just prefer to get rid of it quickly, consider returning it to the fish store where you bought it.

Many pet shops will take back unwanted animals and offer them for sale at a discounted rate, as they know that sometimes people buy pets on impulse and then later regret their decision.

Before returning your fish to the store, make sure that it is in good health and free of any diseases. Also, you can consider asking for a partial refund or credit if you can provide proof of regular pet care and quality living conditions for your fish.

What Not To Do With Unwanted Pet Fish?

What To Do With Unwanted Fish

Now that you are ready to rehome your unwanted pet fish, there are some things that you should avoid doing to ensure the animal’s safety and well-being.

Releasing Them Into the Wild

I can understand that you might think that releasing your fish into bodies of water, such as a nearby pond or lake, will be the best way to get rid of them, but this is one of the worst things that you can do.

Fish are not native to most bodies of water in the United States, and they can quickly disrupt the delicate ecosystem balance by competing for resources with native species.

Plus, the water conditions in your aquarium are probably completely different in the pond, ocean, lake, or river where you want to release your fish. A sudden change in water temperature, pH level, salinity, and other factors can easily overwhelm your fish and kill them.

If you’re returning your fish to adequate living conditions, the opposite could occur – they may prosper, reproduce, and unbalance the aquatic ecosystem. That could lead to fines or other penalties from local authorities!

As an example, lionfish are one kind of fish that wreaks havoc on coral reefs in tropical, saltwater areas. They eat other fish that eat the algae growing on coral, which ultimately kills the reefs.

Flushing Them Down the Toilet

Never flush your unwanted aquarium fish down the toilet alive, no matter how desperate you are! This behavior is inhumane, and you should never resort to such drastic measures.

In addition to the immense stress and painful death you would cause your fish by flushing them down the toilet, did you know that doing so could also lead to water contamination problems?

People flushing items such as condoms, sanitary napkins, and medications down toilets is a leading cause of contaminated groundwater – an issue many governments face.

What Does Petco Pet Store Do With Donated Fish?

Petco Pet Store will make sure that the new owner knows how to take care of their new fish. In addition, they collect your unwanted fish and give it to someone else for a nominal fee from whoever adopts the fish.

What Can I Do if My Fish Has Outgrown Its Tank?

As pet fish grow, they frequently outgrow their tanks. Since fish produce more waste and require more oxygen as they mature, a big fish in a small tank will begin to struggle.

If your fish has outgrown its tank, don’t panic! There are a few options available regarding what to do with unwanted pet fish. But first, consider purchasing a larger tank. This is often the best option as it will allow your fish to have more room to swim and grow.

Of course, it’s important to know how big your fish will grow when fully mature. In the early days of my fishkeeping career, I bought four tiny fantail goldfish. I thought my 20-gallon tank would be plenty big enough until the little guys began to grow, and grow, and grow!

Within a year, my tiddlers had outgrown their tank, and I had to upsize to a larger one. A year later, I was forced to upsize again to an even bigger aquarium! The moral of this story is that you must always double-check the adult size of the fish you buy and make sure they won’t outgrow the tank.

Don’t be surprised if you feel guilty about rehoming your fish. As the contributors to this Reddit thread say, feeling guilty is very common when rehoming unwanted fish. However, as long as you make every effort to find a knowledgeable, suitable home for your pets, you shouldn’t feel at all guilty.


Can I Flush a Live Fish Down the Toilet?

No! This is inhumane and should never be done.

Instead, consider donating your fish to a pet store or another individual who is looking for a pet fish or buying a larger tank for your fish to grow and thrive in.

What Do You Do With Excess Fish in an Aquarium?

There are several options for dealing with excess fish in an aquarium. The first is to purchase a larger tank or divide your existing tank into multiple tanks, which will give each fish more room to swim and grow.

Also, you can find a friend or family member who would be willing to take in your fish or donate it to a pet store or another aquarium. Ultimately, it is important to take action as soon as possible to avoid harming your fish or contributing to water contamination issues.

How Do You Get Rid of Unwanted Goldfish?

There are several options for dealing with unwanted goldfish, including donating them to a pet store or other aquarium, finding a friend or family member who is willing to take in your fish, or purchasing a larger tank.

Another option is to try and sell your unwanted goldfish online or at a local market. However, you should know that there may be laws or regulations in place regarding the sale of live fish, so be sure to check with your local authorities before attempting to sell them.

Will PetSmart Take Back Unwanted Fish?

You can return your fish to PetSmart if it is healthy, as long as you have a receipt and return it within 14 days of purchase.

What To Do With Unwanted Koi Fish?

You can donate your unwanted koi fish to a pet store, aquarium, or to another individual who is looking for a pet fish. Alternatively, you can try to sell them online or at a local market, depending on whether there are laws or regulations in place regarding the sale of live fish in your area.

What To Do With Unwanted Pondfish?

Fish that are unwanted in recreational or aquaculture ponds are often not even accounted for, as the entire pond is simply treated with pesticide. However, pond stores, fish collectors, and even public water gardens may be willing to take on these healthy fish.

What To Do With Unwanted Fish?

Instead of letting your extra fish go to waste, sell or give them away! You could also think about selling or giving them to people who have other pets that might be able to eat the fish. If neither of those options works for you, try reaching out to a local nature center or elementary school – they may be interested in using the fish for educational purposes.

Last Words

Giving up your unwanted fish can be a difficult decision, but there are many options available to you.

Whether you choose to donate your fish, sell them online or at a local market, or find someone willing to take them in, it is important to act quickly and responsibly to ensure the well-being of your pet.

Do you still have questions about what to do with unwanted fish? If so, feel free to reach out to us for more information and advice. We are here to help you make the best decisions for your pet fish, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

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