How To Dispose Of Dead Fish In A Respectful Way

Having fish as a pet is pleasing to the eyes of the owner. Children love to play with fish in the aquarium, watching them swim here and there.

A beautiful aquarium with elegant decorations in it, the aesthetic driftwood and the plants attached to it. It sure increases the beauty but also affects the lifestyle of the fish. As they enjoy playing in it.

Fish should have an active routine which must include daily exercise as well. Sickness can overcome, and it can lead to ugly things. Apart from this, accidental deaths can also take place.

Playing with the fish one day and looking at its dead body the next day could be traumatic for many people. They ask how to dispose of the dead fish body respectfully?

The best way to dispose of a dead fish is by burying them in the ground or soil. You could bury them in your backyard, or any other place that you seem suitable.

However, there are more steps both before and after this. Read on below to know more:

Disposing of the body

There are various ethical ways to dispose of your dead fish’s body respectfully. Try to avoid hurting the fish even after it has died. Here are some steps listed down that can be followed in the disposal of the dead body:

Take the body out from the aquarium

This is the first and most important thing that has to be done. As soon as you find out your fish dead in the aquarium, take it out the first time. The body starts to smell after a while it has been in water. For taking the fish out, don’t use your hands at all, as there are many germs on it. Perhaps use a net and throw the net away after doing this.

Since the dead fish has so many germs on it, it’s suggested to take it out as soon as you see it and avoid the use of hands. The germs on it might infect other fish too.  If you take out the fish with bare hands just by holding up the fins, it’s necessary to wash your hands afterwards thoroughly.

Where to put the body

Put the dead fish’s body in a zip lock bag. Lock it tight after you have put the body in it. It helps to transport the dead body anywhere you want to without getting out the smell, germs, and cause any discomfort. This is the most convenient way to take the body as the hands would also be protected from transmitting any germs.

Disposing the bag

While arranging the place to bury the dead body, keep the bag in the freezer. This way the body won’t start to rot down and you can have plenty of time to dig a hole in the perfect place where you want to bury it. It also helps in taking out the bad smell, as the dead body smells but freezing it helps a lot. After a while when you have decided where to bury it, you can take the bag out of the freezer and continue the process.

How deep to dig

Digging the soil with the help of a scalper or a knife whichever is convenient to you and easily available. Try to dig at least 10 – 12 cm deep into the soil. Don’t just put it on the soil so anyone can come around and kick the body away. Digging a deep hole and burying the fish in it is the most respectful manner. Burying the body with or without the plastic bag is your own choice.

Don’t flush the fish

Flushing the fish is the most disrespectful way of getting rid of your dead fish’s body. When you have a pet, there’s an attachment to it and this is not how they should be treated after they have passed away. In some countries, it is illegal to do this as the dead animal’s body transmits a lot of unwanted diseases. The bacteria are transferred into the water which is harmful to other animals as well and to the community.

This can also have a negative impact on the mental health of the kids present in the house. The respectful burial of the loved ones is important for the children to learn instead of flushing them down. They might get the idea of flushing their loved ones after they have died instead of a respectful burial. You have to teach these basic ethics to the children and teach them that practices like these are wrong.

Take care of the remains

Are you sure it’s dead?

Sometimes the fish might appear dead to you but it might just be sick. There are a few things you have to check and make sure if it’s really dead and then you can decide how to dispose of the body.

  • Observe the gills of the fish for movement. The fish might be breathing slowly but not dead. Make sure the gills of the fish are moving.
  • Try to poke the fish gently and look for a reaction. If it’s dead, it won’t respond.
  • If the color of the skin is gone, it means that the fish’s body has started to rot within the water, or they might be parasites acting upon the skin which is a fatal disease.
  • The last thing, look at the little fish’s eyes. If they have turned grey in colored, the fish has died.

How did it die?

If there are other fish in the tank, or you are thinking of getting a replacement for this fish, you must learn how did this fish die so that in future, you can take necessary precaution and save your fish from dying.

  • The water level of the aquarium. This is a common mistake people make which can turn out to be deadly for the fish. The water level shouldn’t neither be too high nor too low, as this can cause the fish to die.
  • The quality of the water must be tested for its pH level, ammonia, nitrate, and other salts. They should be in the right amount, or the habitat would be deadly for the fish.
  • Check your dead fish’s body, there might be a serious injury on the fins or any body part that can happen from the tank’s sharp edges.
  • Look for any bacteria present on the skin of the fish that took its life. It can be parasites or any other thing.
  • Check the food that you feed your fish if its hazardous to their health. If not, maybe over feeding killed it, look for that in the body of the fish.

Look out for other fish

There might be more fish in the tank, one of them dying means that maybe the living conditions became unbearable for the fish. This can lead other fish to die as well. In case of one death, you must check your aquarium and check other fish for any symptoms that can take their life.

Checking other fish

Check the other fish present in the tank. Look them for any parasite on their body starting to act up. Make sure you take extra care of the remaining fish from now on.

  • Change the water of the aquarium. When one fish has died in it, there are germs and bacteria that are transferred in the water that can be harmful to the other fish.
  • If your aquarium does not have a filter, you should get one as it keeps the water purified and clean. Also, get a heater for your tank if you have a tropical fish in there.
  • Look out for the size of the aquarium. It should be large enough for your fish to play, exercise, and stay active in it.

Get a separate tank

Purchasing one separate tank for the fish to keep it away from others to observe it. If you feel one fish is sick, separate it from the others so it doesn’t get others infected and this way you can easily observe what’s wrong with the fish and cure it.


Pets are a part of the family and very close to all of the members, especially the children. Fish are one of the best pets to keep around the house as children get used to them and they can be a treat for the eyes to watch.

In case they die, they deserve respectful disposal of their body because they are the loved ones in the family. They should not be flushed down or disrespected. It is their right to get a perfect burial as they have made the life of many people bearable.


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