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Post  scmelik on 4/17/2011, 4:21 pm

From everything I have read it sounds like all meat products are a no no when it comes to compost which I completely understand. However, I cannot help but think and remember back to when I was growing up that my mom use to put fish heads in the ground before she planted her plants (both flowers and veggies) and they were beautiful and the tomatoes gave us WAY more tomatoes than we could eat in a year probably. So I am wondering since I do alot of fishing in the spring and summer and thusly catch alot of fish, can I put my fish carcasses in my compost pile? Is this just an old wives tale?
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Post  camprn on 4/17/2011, 5:15 pm

I think that the primary reason we are advised to not add animal products to the compost is to avoid critters coming into your yard and rummaging through the pile. Also smell could be an issue. I add spoiled dairy (milk & cheese) on occasion. That being said, I certainly believe that it wont hurt your compost but add nutrition into it. If you bury the fish waste parts it should keep the smell down. Frequent turning will also speed the decomposition of the pile. Very Happy
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Post  westie42 on 4/17/2011, 10:19 pm

The Indians taught the first settlers to plant corn and other crops by putting fish remains under them.You can even find some brave souls recommending making dead fish sun tea as liquid plant fertilizer. If you have the stomach you could try making a slurry with them and some water in an old blender. Them pour a little of that under the plantings of your transplants. Seems that would attract worms and would also be well on its way to becoming compost. But I would hesitate to put them into the compost pile for all the same reasons camprn suggests. I still have enough taller fence around all of my garden space to keep critters out, hopefully.
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Post  shannon1 on 4/18/2011, 2:13 am

I often use the water from my fresh water fish tank to water my garden the plants seem to enjoy it.
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Post  westie42 on 4/18/2011, 2:28 am

A little departed but Shannon do you think it would be worth visiting a real close by pet store with a lot of aquarium tanks. I have some extra 55 gal drums that will fit in my van. I have heard aquariums can give up some very rich used water. I could get about 150 gal per trip and it is about two miles away. They have all the small animals plus snakes, iguanas, turtles, birds and rabbits. All together I could add a lot of variety to my compost piles besides the enriched water. Would it be best to skip the salt water.
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Post  shannon1 on 4/18/2011, 2:47 am

They do but they may use chemicals in their tanks you don't want in your garden. Just set up a 10 gal tank they are lots of fun once they get going. Snakes and other reptiles use salminela in their gut to help them digetst food affraid like we use acidophilus so I would not recomend using that either.
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Post  acara on 4/18/2011, 8:26 am

@scmelik wrote:From everything I have read it sounds like all meat products are a no no when it comes to compost which I completely understand. However, I cannot help but think and remember back to when I was growing up that my mom use to put fish heads in the ground before she planted her plants (both flowers and veggies) and they were beautiful and the tomatoes gave us WAY more tomatoes than we could eat in a year probably. So I am wondering since I do alot of fishing in the spring and summer and thusly catch alot of fish, can I put my fish carcasses in my compost pile? Is this just an old wives tale?

Not a wives tale ..... not recommending it, but absolutely not a wives tale.

I can introduce you to a couple dozen gardeners who will swear to you that you can't grow a decent tomato without burying your bass fishing scraps at the base of the plant. Of course, they also pee on their plants as pest control.

Unfortunately Very Happy , most of these folks have the same last name as I do Embarassed

It is a prevalent practice (at least in Central FL) and it does work (if you can keep the neighborhood animals from digging up the carcass), but there are better ways to add you nutrients to your plants IMHO.

Also FWIW ..... I've probably ingested 10x my body weight in tomatoes "fertilized" in this fashion when I was younger, with no ill effects (well, depends on who you ask ...LOL Very Happy )


I personally put this in the same file as "the grass is always greener over the septic tank" ..... undoubtedly true, but that doesn't mean I'm growing my veggies there Very Happy
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Post  FarmerValerie on 4/18/2011, 8:38 am

From what I have heard you can add fish scraps to your compost tumbler, or bin if it is enclosed and you have enough green stuff in there. These will heat up and "digest" it quicker and with out the odor, where as if you have a compost pile, or open system, every cat and raccoon in the neighborhood will come investigate, and leave littel surprises behind for you in your pile. You might be able to bury it and get away with it.

My husband used an old cooler, put all scraps in there, added water, and was making his own fish emulsion. But alas with all great ideas, this one too was forgotten until the next season...... I tossed the whole thing.
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Post  acara on 4/18/2011, 8:43 am

@westie42 wrote:A little departed but Shannon do you think it would be worth visiting a real close by pet store with a lot of aquarium tanks. I have some extra 55 gal drums that will fit in my van. I have heard aquariums can give up some very rich used water. I could get about 150 gal per trip and it is about two miles away. They have all the small animals plus snakes, iguanas, turtles, birds and rabbits. All together I could add a lot of variety to my compost piles besides the enriched water. Would it be best to skip the salt water.

I've done a lot of aquaculture & mixed culture closed-loop set-ups & can help you if your looking to set up your own. However, I don't recommend adding the tank byproducts to your garden.

Many of the chemicals used in commercial/retail aquaculture will kill your plants and aren't safe to injest. In fact, about a half-dozen of the products used on aquarium fish are illegal to use on fish that are for human consumption (pick up some of the aquarium products the next time your in the store & you'll see what I mean).

You can absolutely use fish waste products in your garden, but there is a specific process and a very short list of stuff you can use......so I'd recommend not using 2nd-hand aquarium waste.


Last edited by acara on 4/18/2011, 8:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  FarmerValerie on 4/18/2011, 8:45 am

Not to mention all the antibiotics they feed their fish.
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Post  acara on 4/18/2011, 8:59 am

Just to clarify on the above ....

Don't use it on your veggies, but if you haven't treated for any fish diseases in your tank, you can absolutely use "tank-tea" for your other plants ....just nothing your going to eat.

For use on houseplants & non-food plants, just watch out for the "ich" medications & any treatment that contains Copper Sulphate, Formalin, Methylene Blue, or Malachite Green (which is most aquarium treatment meds).... they are all toxic to plants in high doses, don't evaporate once added to water & your tank is a closed-system, so they tend to concentrate/build up in your tank with water changes.
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Post  westie42 on 4/18/2011, 2:31 pm

Well that all was very sobering and enlightening thanks for your expertise. Guess I will stay away from pet shops and strangers fish tanks for my soil nutrients.
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Post  Old Hippie on 4/18/2011, 3:01 pm

So from this thread I take it that it is okay to bury fish parts from edible fish in your compost or garden but not to use stuff from the aquarium in your vegetable garden. It would be fine for flower beds though.

Is that the general idea? I am just a bit confused.

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Post  middlemamma on 4/18/2011, 3:04 pm

That seems to be what I got as well Gwynn. Smile
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Post  acara on 4/18/2011, 3:21 pm

@Old Hippie wrote:So from this thread I take it that it is okay to bury fish parts from edible fish in your compost or garden but not to use stuff from the aquarium in your vegetable garden. It would be fine for flower beds though.

Is that the general idea? I am just a bit confused.

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Exactly...... You nailed it ..... Very Happy
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 4/18/2011, 3:35 pm

For a "pre-compost" tea, throw all the weeds you pull from the flower beds, lawn, or wherever, into a 5-gallon bucket, add water, let it sit in the sun until the weeds start to decompose and it becomes "fragrant," strain off the water, dilute it, and pour on your plants. The strained-out rotting weeds go into the compost pile. Not elegant, but effective, but probably not acceptable to your neighbors if they live too close. We're in the middle of 30 acres, so no problemo.
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Post  shannon1 on 4/19/2011, 12:11 am

Yes, that is exactly why I only use my own tank tea (good name), no added chems just good old fish poo. Laughing
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Post  acara on 4/19/2011, 6:49 am

@shannon1 wrote:Yes, that is exactly why I only use my own tank tea (good name), no added chems just good old fish poo. Laughing

Tank-Tea is good stuff ... especially if you have goldfish.

I had a 65g tank that I raised Lion-Head Orandas (type of goldfish) in ....... and I swear the tank-tea from that tank could just about raise house plants from the dead.

I also never had to buy lawn fertilizer when I had the outdoor Koi ponds running .... just do your weekly 20% water change by lining up the pond drain to the sprinkler main & you'll have the greenest grass in the neighborhood Very Happy Very Happy
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 4/19/2011, 10:01 am

When blanching or boiling vegetables, save the water, cool it and use it on your house plants or container plaints outside. Obviously, don't use salted water! The residual nutrients in the water are appreciated by your plants. Caveat: if the veggies you boiled are broccoli or cabbage, only use it outside--inside it can impart a slight sulphurous odor to the air.
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