I knew that fish is good as a source of nitrogen for the plants and one can use them in the garden. But I wanted to find out whether I can use them for my potted plants.

You can bury fish in a potted plant as it provides a rich source of nitrogen fertilizer that encourages foliage growth. You will need to bury it deep and keep the pot outdoors till the fish decomposes and the smell disappears. This is a good method to lay rest to a dead pet fish or leftover meal.

I’ve written all the details that will help you understand what benefits you get using a fish in your potted plants and how you can go about doing this in your own container garden.

Should you Bury Fish In A Potted Plant?

Pots are used by many gardeners to grow various plants, from flowers to vegetables; even trees can be grown in pots. Some gardeners grow specific types of plants only in pots, while others grow what they need in the different seasons.

To grow any plant in a pot requires good soil and drainage, good fertilizer, and the occasional feed with organic materials designed specifically for the type of plant which you are growing.

Adding a fish carcass into the pot is helpful to the plant and will make the plant grow bigger and stronger by adding vital nutrients to the soil.

If you are going to add a dead fish or parts of it to your potted plants, plan the location of your plant first, as there could well be a fishy smell permeating from your plant, which could linger for a while until the fish decomposes! 

Find a good spot outdoors or undercover on your porch until the plant settles and the smell disappears!

Why Would I Bury A Dead Fish In A Potted Plant?

There are a few reasons why you would bury your fish in a potted plant:

  • To dispose of a family pet
  • To get rid of leftover fish bones
  • To provide nutrients to the plant

Many people keep fish as pets in their homes, and when the fish die, the dilemma is what to do with the carcass. Often these fish have been well-cared for and treated as a member of the family, so flushing them is not an option and can prolong the grieving period.

Others regard any living creature with respect and feel that a dead creature of any kind should be buried humanely, so burial is preferable to being flushed or thrown in the garbage.

For some, burying a pet fish is a way to remember the fish; burying it under a plant will remind them of the lost pet as well as fertilizing the plant – the circle of life.

Leftover bones from a fish carcass can be troublesome if you have dogs and cats as pets in your home. Dogs and cats are avid scavengers and will scratch through your garbage if they have the chance in search of leftovers from your meals.

Burying the bones and remains of a dead fish in your potted plants and perhaps adding a layer of kitty litter or baking soda over the topsoil should remove the temptation of scratching through your garbage. Small fish bones can cause harm to the insides of both dogs and cats, so burying the carcass is a better way of disposing of it.

Can Fish Be Used As Fertilizer In A Potted Plant?

The addition of fish as fertilizer into a plant pot is a matter of personal choice. Some gardeners report lush, healthy growth from the plants which have the fish added to the soil, while others would not even consider burying a dead fish in their pots as they are afraid of the dead fish smell!

There is no reason why fish cannot be added as a beneficial fertilizer to your potted plants. Whether you use pieces of the dead fish or ready-made decomposed fish, your potted plants will greatly benefit from the nutrients provided by the fish.

Fish fertilizer improves the soil by feeding the microbes, which break down the dead matter, which in turn aerates the soil. 

Many commercial fertilizers contain the entire fish carcass, including the bones, scales, and skin in the product. Using fish as a fertilizer has the added benefits of being a completely organic product and is safe for all plants and the environment.

Commercially produced fertilizers use all the inedible, unusable fish carcass leftovers. Rather than these valuable fish parts being discarded and going to waste, they are dried, ground up, and reused as fertilizer!

Does A Dead Fish Smell When Buried In Your Potted Plant?

The rule when burying a dead fish in a pot is to use a fairly large pot, with a depth of at least 20 inches (50cm). After burying the fish in the pot, cover it with a good layer of soil. This is to mask any smells which may linger and to prevent animals from attempting to dig up the carcass and destroying your plant.

Using only part of the fish will also help to reduce the odors, so spread the fish around a few different pots. These potted plants should not be left at ground level as dogs will be attracted to them; rather, lift the pot onto a higher ledge that the dogs cannot reach until the fish has decomposed.

Will Fish Fertilizer Harm My Potted Plants?

Fish heads and entrails have been used as fertilizers for many years. Some commercial fertilizers contain chemicals that can harm or burn plants – not so with fish-based fertilizers as they have slower release rates. Fish fertilizers are used as organic plant food and do need to be applied as often as commercial fertilizers as they provide nutrients that the soil needs.

Fish fertilizers are full of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, along with many other minerals and vitamins, including calcium and iron, which all help to improve soil health and soil fertility, leading to stronger, healthier plants.

 Burying dead fish under the soil in your potted plants should guarantee abundant growth!

How To Bury Fish In My Potted Plants

If you are going to bury a dead fish or two in your potted plants, follow these simple instructions first:

  • Catch or buy fish to be used in your potted plants.
  • Chop the dead fish up into pieces.
  • Buy a suitable plant pot, drainage materials, and good potting soil.
  • Spread a layer of drainage materials and a thin layer of soil over the bottom of the pot.
  • Place the dead fish carcass or fish pieces over the layer of soil.
  • Add more soil on top of the fish.
  • Place the plant into the pot.
  • Cover the roots with more soil.
  • Place a layer of baking soda over the top to mask any odors which may have escaped.

What Are The Benefits Of Burying Fish In My Potted Plants?

Using fish as a fertilizer in your potted plants has many benefits, such as stronger, healthier plants, bigger, tastier fruit, and an abundant yield!

Here is an example of a home gardener who has tried this method of burying fish in his raised bed vegetable garden with favorable results.


Many people have their own opinions on this topic, but the fact remains that fish used as fertilizer will provide essential nutrients to your potted plants.

The benefits of burying dead fish in your potted plants by far out way the disadvantages and should always be a consideration when starting your garden. Planting in pots is a more manageable way of growing fresh produce for the home gardener, and disposing of fish bones is made all the easier by simply burying them under your favorite potted plant!

Why not investigate ways of how to produce your own fish fertilizer for use in your own garden or potted plants!


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