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How to Dispose of Fish

Updated November 21, 2016

Dead fish have a strong and distinct odour that can stink up a house or dustbin for days. There are many easy ways to dispose of fish, depending on your situation and available resources. For deceased pet fish, inedible caught fish or other uneaten fish, choose a method that is convenient and environmentally friendly. It's important to quickly dispose of dead fish.

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  1. Eat the fish. Of course, this may not appeal to you if the fish was a pet, but if you catch the fish and keep it refrigerated, you can cook and eat the fish safely. As long as the fish is refrigerated soon after it dies, it will stay good for one to two days, according to "Good Housekeeping." If frozen just after death, fish stays good for six months or longer.

  2. Use the fish for bait if you are fishing for larger fish. Small fish can be used whole while larger fish can be cubed or used for chum to attract larger fish in open water. Refrigerate or freeze bait fish until you need it.

  3. Compost the fish in your backyard compost pile. This works well for deceased pets or unused fish. Break up the fish with a spade and stir it into the compost pile or bin to reduce the odour of its decomposition. Composting fish will increase soil richness and give back to the environment.

  4. Bury the fish at least a foot deep to prevent animals from digging up the bones and distributing them across your lawn. If possible, bury dead fish far from your home to reduce the risk of smell or something digging it up.

  5. Burn the fish if nothing else is possible. A standard wood-burning campfire will incinerate most fish, leaving only a small amount of bones that will eventually break down.

  6. Tip

    You can feed fish to larger pet fish, but only do so if you know why the fish died. If it has an infection or other contagious problem, you risk killing your larger fish.


    Do not flush dead fish down the toilet, as you risk contaminating the water supply with bacteria.

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About the Author

Ricky Andromeda has been writing since 1999. His articles have been published on various websites, specializing in pool, art, hunting, antiques, home improvement, chemistry and gambling. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Louisiana State University and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in writing at the University of Arkansas.

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