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How to Dispose of a Dead Fish Eco-Safely

how to dispose of a dead fish
Every aquarium keeper has to know how to dispose of a dead fish. Failing to take proper measures may bring the same fate to the other fishes in the tank. Though keeping an aquarium is not as attentive as having a dog for a pet, it should never be neglected.

Regularly cleaning the fish tank reduces health risks for your underwater buddies. But however much care you’ve given, the inevitable happens. You will find a dead fish floating aimlessly in the aquarium.


Quickly Remove From the Tank

When you spot a floating dead fish in your tank, act swiftly. Fish it out and save other organisms from catching anything terrible. The longer a dead fish is in a tank, the more risk there is for its tank mates.

A fish is quick to decompose once it dies. It releases toxins that can cause other fish to fall ill. If a contagious illness is the reason for its death, there will be a high chance for the other fish in the tank to follow suit.

The safest way to take out the dead fish from the tank is by using a net. It is easy, and it reduces direct contact with the dead body. When you fish out the body, have a zip lock bag ready for easy transport of the body. If you are the type of fish keeper that gets emotional when your fish dies, it’s helpful to put your dead fish in a paper bag before putting it in a zip lock bag.

If you do not have a net, use your hands. Be sure to wear disposable gloves. Even if dead fish are generally not harmful to you, remember to wash your hands with soap afterward thoroughly. And remember to sanitize any equipment used to handle the dead body to rid of the germs and smell.

If you are not yet ready to dispose of the body, put it in the freezer to slow down its decomposition. Do this while you decide where to dispose of the body.

What to do with a dead fish? Flush or Bury?

what to do with a dead fish

When asked how to dispose of a dead fish or what to do with it, people will answer to flush it most of the time. It’s easy, quick, and simple. But it is not the most ethical method.

Why Should You Not Flush a Dead Fish?

Flushing a dead fish has various unfortunate consequences. Due to its harmful effect on nature, the American government has made it illegal in the states.

Flushing a dead fish may not seem harmful at first, but the effects will show down the pipe. Once you flush a dead fish, you expose wildlife creatures to diseases.

Burial Locations

The acceptable way is burial. There are many places where you can bury the body. There are also various ways to do it. If your fish is essential to you, give its burial some thought.

So you have decided to bury your scaly friend. Now, the question is, where? Legally, it should be on your own property. Look for a small area in your backyard where you can dig a hole big enough to fit your fish. It does not have to be 6 feet deep, just enough to cover the foul smell.

If you want to give your fish the best burial you can provide, get it a fish casket. There are fish caskets in the market. They are made eco-friendly and are suitable to hold decomposing fish underground.

Another resting place for your fish that you may consider is a pot. Turn the body into fertilizer. The decomposing body is not as useless as it lets on. It would provide your plant with the sustenance it needs to grow healthy.

Other Options

One safe way to dispose of the body is cremation. You can seek advice from a vet on how and where to cremate your dead fish. Or look for a pet crematorium near you.

Some will also throw the dead fish in the waste bin along with other garbage. This way of disposing of the dead fish is alright but make sure to wrap the body using a biodegradable material. You want to avoid the garbage collectors having direct contact with the dead fish. To be sure, you can label the wrapper just to inform the collector of what’s inside.

Clean the Tank

To make sure your fish do not meet their end sooner than you would like, clean their tank. Cleaning the tank removes whatever toxin is left in the tank by the dead fish. Change the water and check for any signs of parasites.

Check as well if any of the remaining fish has caught a disease. If one is sick, apply proper quarantine measures not to infect the other organisms. Place the sick fish in a separate bowl and ask a vet what to do next to make sure it does not die as well.


It is a sad situation to be in – to dispose of a pet you have cared for and fed. And since you have treated it well, why not treat it well all the way. A fish keeper hates to think of their fish dying, but it is natural. And when it comes to that unfortunate end, know how to dispose of a dead fish without compromising others’ safety.

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