As an aquarium hobbyist, the last thing you’ll ever want to witness is waking up only to find one of your small-finned creatures floating on the water. It’s sad having to bid farewell to your pet friend when you least expected it. But again, it’s almost inevitable, especially now that these little friends are only short-lived.
And yes, so it happened! You woke up one morning to find poor Nemo floating belly-up. It came as a shocker! You still haven’t come to terms with the happening. Even so, you still have to find a way to get rid of the body lest it starts rotting and emitting noxious fumes all over your house. So, can you flush a dead fish down the toilet?
Well, if that’s what you are here for, get ready to discover some exciting things about disposing of a deceased fish. You just can’t afford to skip even a bit!
Should You Flush Dead Fish Down The Toilet?
No, you shouldn’t flush a dead fish down the toilet. A dead fish could spread diseases and parasites, attract septic system issues, and pollute waterways. As such, opt for other safe ways when you need to dispose of your finned friend.
So yes, the message is clear! No matter how tempting it gets, just don’t flush your dead fish pet down your toilet. It’s generally not healthy for the septic system, other aquatic beings, and shockingly, your pet too!
Instead, find other safe ways of getting rid of your small friend. As much as your gone little friend can quickly go down your toilet, there are much better and safer alternatives, but more of that will be coming later in the article!
Why You Should Never Flush Your Dead Fish Down The Drain?
We have various reasons why you should never flush your dead fish down the drain. But generally, it boils down to the fact that it’s not good for aquatic life, your sewerage system, and the environment.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons;
1. Your Fish Could Spread Diseases and Parasites
No matter how dearly you loved your little fish, you just can’t risk the possibility of flushing it away and spreading deadly diseases and parasites. This is especially dangerous for other aquatic creatures since they might not have the immunity to fight off such infections.
2. Your Sewerage System Could Get Clogged
While it effectively handles a wide variety of waste items, your sewerage system might not be too happy with a dead fish. It can pick up issues from what seems to be something minor. And once it gets clogged, you will be looking at expensive repairs and replacements.
3. Perhaps Your “Dead” Fish Isn’t Actually Dead
This is a slim possibility but still one worth considering. What if you think your fish is dead but it’s only dormant? Imagine how your adorable pet would suffer when flushed down the drain alive! That could be the last thing you’ll ever forgive yourself for doing.
Generally, we have many reasons why you shouldn’t think of flushing your dead fish pet down the toilet. So, what other safe alternatives do you have?
Well, we will be looking at that. But just before we get to that, let’s look at a few equally-essential points that you should remember!
Is It Illegal To Flush a Fish Down The Toilet?
While there is no United States federal law that prohibits flushing a fish down the toilet, there could be for some cities. But as we have already said, you don’t have to go to that extreme, especially now that you know that it isn’t the best thing to do.
So yes, while it isn’t in the United States, it’s technically illegal in some areas, and it’s just not a good idea to do it.
You see, death won’t just come from nowhere. If you found your fish dead, the chances are that they were either sick or had some parasite attacks. Unfortunately, these parasites and diseases could still be in the fish’s system even when they die.
And if you think that just by flushing the fish away all of these microorganisms will disappear, you’re wrong. The wastewater treatment plants cannot get rid of all types of diseases and parasites.
In fact, some of these could be released into the environment and affect other aquatic creatures. As we mentioned before, this could also mean that your pet fish might not be as safe as you think.
So generally, even when not technically illegal to flush your dead fish down your toilet, it’s something we highly discourage.
How To Tell If a Fish is Dead?
You can tell if a fish is dead by looking at its breathing. If the pet’s gills aren’t moving, that tells you that they aren’t breathing. For fish species that breathe through their mouth, for instance, Bettas and labyrinth, look for up and down body movements. If there are none, it’s sad that your pet might have bid goodbye.
Before you begin planning the proper way to dispose of your dead fish, you should check if it is really dead. You don’t want to go through all the trouble and then find out that your fish is still alive.
A few telltale signs can help you determine if your fish is dead or not. Examine the fish for;
- Any activity
- Cloudy Pupils
- Dry Scales
1. Any Activity
The first sign that your fish might be dead is if there is no activity. This is especially true if the fish was previously very active in your tank. A dead fish won’t swim, so make sure you lookout for this sign.
Even so, it’s worth noting that floating doesn’t always mean that your fish is dead. Perhaps it’s very sick to the extent that it can’t swim. To be sure, let’s proceed with other signs.
2. Cloudy Pupils
If you observe that your fish’s pupils have turned cloudy, it might indicate that the pet is dead or close to death. This happens when the fish’s eye lens swells up.
But again, cloudy eyes aren’t always a sign of death. They are normal for some species, including scorpionfish, rabbitfish, walleye, and pufferfish.
Even so, it isn’t a healthy sign, so always contact the vet when this sign lasts for several days. But where the fish is actually dead, you might also notice that the cloudy eyes appear sunken.
3. Dry Scales
If you’ve examined all the above signs but are yet to get convinced, the scales could be a good indication. When a fish dies, one of the first things to happen is that the scales will dry up.
If you’re finding that your fish has lost its scales, it’s most likely dead or very ill. Gently run your fingers over the fish’s body to feel for any bumps. Dead fish will have a smooth surface.
You might also notice cracked skin, which is usually a sign that the fish has been dead for some time.
How To Dispose of a Dead Fish?
How you dispose of a dead fish is important as you don’t want to cause any harm to the environment. It may also determine whether or not other fish pets will suffer from what killed your dead fish.
As such, it’s generally essential to ensure that you do the disposal in the right way. Here are the steps;
- Remove The Fish From The Aquarium
- Enclose In a Zip-Lock bag
Step 1: Remove The Fish From The Aquarium
The first and the most crucial step is to remove the fish from the aquarium. It should come as soon as possible after the fish has died. Don’t leave the body in the tank as it will only cause bacteria and ammonia levels to spike.
Fish tend to decompose sooner than you might think after they die. As such, it will only take a short time for the dead fish to begin emitting toxic compounds into the water. When that happens, it becomes difficult for other fish to survive. So yes, the sooner you do it, the better for your fish population!
And as usual, it’s always safe not to use bare hands when removing the fish from the tank. So yes, use a net or a scoop to get it out. That way, you will avoid coming in contact with any harmful bacteria.
Step 2: Enclose The Fish in a Zip Lock Bag
After removing the fish from the tank, place it in a high-quality zip lock bag and seal it. That way, you will keep the fish from spreading bacteria, germs, and odors.
You can even put the zip lock bag in a freezer for a few days as you plan how to dispose of your little friend. That will help halt the decomposition process.
Step 3: Disposal
The last step of getting rid of your dead fish is disposing of it. Here, you have several ways to go about it. You can dispose of your fish by burying it in the backyard, cremating, and burying it in a large planter. It’s up to you to choose what works best for your case.
- Burying It In The Backyard: Choose the appropriate resting spot for your gone fish friend. Burying it next to flowers, trees, or bushes is great. Then, dig 4 to 5 inches deep into the soil to keep it from stray animals. And as usual, ensure that you take the fish out of the zip lock bag.
- Cremating The Fish: It’s another safe and ethical way to dispose of your dead fish. It’s an effective way of ensuring that diseases and toxins don’t spread. However, this process needs special equipment, so you can’t do it at home. You can talk to the vet if it’s the most appropriate method for you.
- Burying in a Planter: This method is humane, safe, and will benefit the environment. You will need a large, deep planter to bury the fish in. Here, you might be worried about the smell. However, as long as the planter you are using is large enough and the soil is also deep, you will hardly suffer any smells.
So, can you flush a dead fish down the toilet? It’s not advisable to do so as it will only cause more harm than good. You should always dispose of a dead fish in the right way as it will protect your fish population and won’t harm the environment.