Losing a pet is hard. Especially a fish that your child has fallen in love with. Now the question comes down to ‘How are we going to handle this situation?’ Luckily, we’re here to help.

Fish tanks are exciting for kids, especially aquariums. It's also why the death of your child's first fish could hit hard.
Fish tanks are exciting for kids, especially aquariums. It’s also why the death of your child’s first fish could hit hard.
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Losing your Pet Fish

The death of any pet is hard. We all know it. They quickly work their way into your hearts, even if they’re as small as a fish. Children often have a fish as their first pet. It’s a brilliant way to learn about taking care of a pet, but the result is inevitable.

Eventually, that fish will die. This can be very hard on your child. It’s important to be sensitive to the situation. Every child will react differently, but here are a few ways you can go about helping your child through the death of their first fish.

1. Have a Conversation with Your Child

Dealing with the loss of their first fish can confuse a child. Many times they haven’t had to deal with death in their lives. This is a big moment. You need to sit down and talk to your child so they understand what happened.

Learning about death through a pet will be hard, but it’s a lesson that must be learned, eventually. It’s better to have it explained with a fish than a more traumatic incident. Be sensitive to your child during this conversation. Answer their questions, no matter what they might be.

Dealing with the grief that comes with a fish’s death can be hard and take time. Your child will ultimately be sad and have to work through their emotions. As a parent, it’s your job to help them. Give them time to be sad, but also encourage them to celebrate the time they had with their pet fish. Be supportive.

No matter the type of fish, the death of a pet can be hard on a child. Sometimes, a fish community can help.
No matter the type of fish, the death of a pet can be hard on a child. Sometimes, a fish community can help.
Photo by Creative Nerds on Unsplash

2. Buy a New Fish

Sometimes, moving on is the best way to handle such a sensitive situation. Many parents have bought a similar-looking fish before their child has realized the situation at hand. That decision is up to you as the parents. It depends on your child’s age and level of sensitivity. Remember, this can’t be the answer forever.

I’m not suggesting you give your child a new pet to make up for their dead one. That won’t work. Having a connection with a fish and waking up one morning to discover that connection is gone can be brutal. They need that connection. Through experience, I know that pets have a way of helping a child through hard times.

If your home aquarium has more than one fish, your child won’t be so heartbroken about losing their one and only pet. It can be easier to digest the grief. Consider a community of fish for your aquarium, so it’s easier to digest the inevitable when the time comes.

3. Hold a Funeral

Closure it the best way to let go of a beloved pet fish. I know this firsthand. Just two weeks ago my betta fish, McGuffin, passed away. It felt weird to just move on and accept that my pet fish had died. I’ve experienced the death of a fish before, but each time I need closure. I hold a little fish funeral. How else do you receive closure after your fish’s death?

Consider burying your fish instead of flushing it. Your fish might have died from a disease that could easily pass on, even after death. If you flush that fish down the toilet, it might pass that disease to a living fish in the water. It’s better to be careful than to infect more fish.

For your fish’s funeral, say a few kind words. Your child will appreciate it. You can bury it somewhere that they can visit if they’d like. It is entirely up to you on how you and your child find closure after the death of your fish. Hopefully a closing ceremony, like a fish funeral, will give them some peace of mind.


Do you have any tips for dealing with the death of a fish? Comment below and let us know.