Benefits of Using Fish & Fish waste as fertilizer ( A must read)

in #gardening4 years ago

What is Fish Fertilizer?

Since the beginning of farming, fertilizers have come a long way. Most of what we put in the soil these days is a combination of synthetic compounds and chemicals which are inorganic as such causes more harm than good to us. The good news is that there are a lot of organic options to fertilize our soils and have a blossoming healthy  yield. 

In my former post I did list and explain some good ways to have a healthy and rich harvest which included Epsom salt, composting with leaves, ash, banana skin and finally burying whole eggs and eggshells see post here for more details, for this article I will center on fish and fish wastes as soil fertilizer which offers an organic solution and effectively provides nutrients to the soil for a blossom harvest.  Interestingly, the thought of fish as fertilizer causes some of us into gardening to block our nose as some of the fish products do come with unpleasant after smell to our nose but they do have a lot of benefits to the garden and crops  making us to have a health food source . 

Hundreds of years ago, before scientific soil research began in earnest; Native Americans understood the benefits of fish as fertilizers. It was recorded that Native American like Squanto showed pilgrims how to use fish (Herring) to fertilize their crops. 

As the stories goes, each kernel of corn planted was placed into the fish mouth and the corn planted together with the fish. Also some indigenous folks placed a small fish in the soil and mounted fresh dirt on top the fish thereafter planted a seed of corn. As the growing season lasted, the fish slowly decomposed as well as constituting a steady feeding source for the crop until time for harvest. 

From current findings, it is evident that the Native Americans were right about the nutrients in fish as there are so many benefits of using fish as fertilizer. 

What types of fishes are best to use

Producing the best vegetables you can does not mean you have to be the best gardener around; however, being aware of some basic skills will make the experience fun and easier. Many gardeners belief burying fish helps your vegetables plants to blossom. The different parts of fish like the guts, heads, bones etc have many useful nutrients. As the protein breaks down in the buried fish, it releases a lot of nitrogen, minerals and vitamins beneficial to the growing vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers etc. the proteins aids growth of foliage and root and also promote vigorous blooms thereby ensuring you have a good harvest.

It should be noted that many species of fish can be used however the most common ones that we can use as plant fertilizers are sardines, herring, trout and salmon. Whichever one you decide to use, ensure you bury the fish well before planning your crop so that the decomposing process will not be drawing nutrients from the soil while also the plant is trying at the same time to get the soils nutrients. Mainly, what is used as fish fertilizer is junk fish, scraps or those fish that we do not usually consume due to high levels of toxicity. Eg, menhaden spend a great number of their lives in water contaminated by metals; as such they make perfect fertilizer for plants and not the perfect meal for humans.

Due to constant issues related to animal pests like Racoons and Rats digging up your buried fish fertilizer, you have to adhere to ideal dept of 1-1 ½ feet down, beside or under each plant, however some gardeners has no problem burying only few inches down. More so, to keep off some animals from digging up your fish fertilizer, sprinkle cayenne pepper around the plant.

If you have access to many fishes, you can freeze some of the parts you do not eat like the heads, scales, guts etc and use those parts as fish fertilizers. You can also wrap and bury the fish in newspapers or even bury while frozen as such they are well under the surface before melting and releasing foul smell. If you find the brand to use, it can be 100% organic if you fertilizing by yourself. The release rate is slow for fish fertilizers than other types of fertilizer as such you do not need to apply it often.

Some benefits of fish fertilizer

There are many advantages of fish fertilizers for humans and plants as it aids in ensuring we get a good organic harvest beneficial for us. It also benefits the mini eco system which is your backyard. It is just one of the best ways to grow quality crops and a way to help renew much needed nutrients in the soil.

Natural fish fertilizers are processed differently in the soil since they contain nutrients which must first be digested by organisms like bacteria, earthworms and fungi before being available for use by plant root. All these microbial activity improves the strength and vigor of plants as they increase the number of organic matter in the soil. Nutrients are broken down by fungi and bacteria which makes them available to plant root, loosen the dirt as they travel, reproduce and process much needed nutrients for the plants and decay thereby ensuring soil are aerated with increased level of organic matter. 

Fish fertilizer increases fertility of soil and improves the soil health by providing the primary nutrients necessary for plants to blossom. 

It offers a natural source of burn free nitrogen, plus other primary nutrients like phosphorus and potassium. Unlike synthetic fertilizers, fish fertilizers may also provide secondary nutrients such as calcium. Plants that get a balance of both primary and secondary nutrients experience strong and steady growth which results to stronger plants that can better stand issues related to pest and diseases. 

While fish fertilizer has a lot to offer, there is also a downside. 

Issues to look out for using Fish as fertilizer

If you decide to use Fish to fertilize your soil, you have to be aware of some downsides to it. Firstly is the smell which can be well manageable unless you  have the most sensitive nose in the world. 

Another issue is the sustainability of certain types of fish used and also over fishing. Many gardeners are using fish wastes and scraps more so you can find the right organic fertilizers to buy by doing some little research.

Toxins in fish from polluted water can also be a source of problem. Many of these toxins comes in the form of metals and may even contain mercury. The fish at the top of the food chain are those likely to be contaminated. However, plants that are not consumed will constitute no problem however you still need to run some background checks to ascertain what you are putting in your soil.


Since we are all aware that our health is our wealth, we should be mindful of what we consume as such we should ensure our crops are grown in a healthy and safe way. Every plant need fertile, biologically active soil to grow. Fish fertilizer can offer an organic way to provide much needed nutrients for healthy plant growth. From this article we learnt of many types of fishes to choose from and we can even use the fish wastes we normally do not eat. More so,  in this article, I pointed out some things to look out for like the smell and some toxic fishes with too much metals which may be harmful to our crop as well as our health and to bury deep or sprinkle cayenne pepper around the plant to put away the animal pests that usually will want to dig out the fish in the soil. However, as you ready your soil for next planting season, do consider adding fish fertilizer to enrich your soil which is a very good source of organic fertilizer for a rich and healthy yield.

Watch This

Do good to someone by resteeming this vital tip, upvote to show your support and follow for more articles to come. Do send in your comments on your experiences with using fish as organic fertilizers and or which method works for you.

Remember to check out my former blog posts on Benefits of using Raw eggs or Eggshells for your plant here


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Wow this is awsome. I never thought fish could be so beneficial. Thank you so much for this tip. Upvoted

I also updated on fish tanks...take a look😊

Great information! I use a liquid fish emulsion as fertilizer and it stinks bad but so worth it! It works great!

Hahaha just block your nose and keep enjoying your fresh harvest 😏

Nice fish lecturing here, thanks for sharing, upvoted.

Welcome and keep steeming hot

My tomatoes LOVE fish! Thanks for the well thought out post @kenhudoy! I have always just ordered fish emulsion, but now I want to try something more basic, a fish. Awesome. I love growing food!

Growing our own food is just awesome and to do it organically is the only way to go!!!

Wow what a sweet reply @lifemovedbysteem wish you all the best follow for more as I will update withing the week...

Looking forward to the update!

Sure and i updated..
Take a look...😋 🌹

Interesting information, once in my house water used washing fish after cleaning used to water the plants.

Good option will be writing on that option too...😏

Excellent article!!! I have been using a commercial product Alaska Fish Fertilizer. It also helps to keep the deer away from consuming my plants because of the smell. I have since started burying all fish remains in the garden instead of throwing them in the trash. Better for the earth!!

Sure very good for the farms and our Eco system ...tks dude😎

Your welcome I appreciate the effort and research you put into the article! I have added fish to my garden and will add even more now! Returning to the earth is powerful. We need to keep the cyle and design going as organic as possible!

Sure and hope you read my updated one on aquaponics ..for sustainable gardening even in drought and or winter😋 also doing a series on Burns and scalds...take a look...

Will read your other posts as well!!

good choice as i updated today also..

Thank you kenhudoy very much. Your advice is very valuable. I will work with my teacher @bakabou159704

Welcome do follow and resteem so it benefits others... Keep steeming hot

Interesting. I didn't even know it was a good idea to use fish waste as fertilizer! Learn something new everyday lol

Good to is power... 😉

Really?? Fish fertilizer?? very well

These benefits are very important to our lives. Thanks a lot!

interesting! i've never heard of fish fertilizing before...

This post has received a 17.06 % upvote from @booster thanks to: @kenhudoy.

Good one bot

Excellent tip I used salmon in Alaska for cabbage and pumpkins I only used the heads but it really did the trick.I don't have pictures but the memories were delicious . cheers m8

Wow...nice one and hope you send us images next time...😎

"Toxins in fish from polluted water can also be a source of problem. Many of these toxins comes in the form of metals and may even contain mercury. The fish at the top of the food chain are those likely to be contaminated. However, plants that are not consumed will constitute no problem however you still need to run some background checks to ascertain what you are putting in your soil." - @kenhudoy

Thank you for addressing this. Mercury was the first thing that came to mind when I started to read your piece.

Great read. Thanks for sharing. Upvoted.


Welcome as always and keep following for more...😎

Awesome post on organic fertilzer using sure that the place will not smell great initially however the soil will be very fertile later and thus great foods will be grown there.

Sure...thanks as always for the kind comment and support @charles1

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Always thought it'd be better to at the very least chop up the fish vs. burying one whole...just for the increased surface area as far as decomposition!

~ Kevin

@halcyondaze sure...good method if it works for you...

Thanks for this amazing piece of information my friend! I never knew this before, this can be a great thing for those having a nice area for planting.

Sure my friend...tkto for the comment... don't d you read up the one for eggshells 😋

Of course I will have a read soon my friend, i'm just little busy these days, i'm even late in replying to comments. Once I'm back to normal track, will surely check it out as it really interest me this subject!

Sure and the fish tank option I updated too...keep steeming

automatic upvote for you as always @kenhudoy!

my pleasure @kenhudoy : - )

great! I will give it a read @kenhudoy!

Thanks and keep steeming

chooo chooo!

thanks and i updated a new posts today...regards

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This is quite cool. Fish isn't very plentiful where I am, but it's a neat idea for natural gardening! Thanks ken.

Welcome and m nee posts helps for those into aquarium or fish tanks...updated today

Mostly agreed. But at one point in the article, you say that fish exposed to toxins that we can't eat make a good fertilizer. Later, you do warn about toxins. I think that is the main thing to be concerned about. You don't want to add things to the soil which can be harmful to the eater of the plants - us :)

Sure but you know that there are some plants we do not eat like flowers and trees we grow to protect environment or flowers which they can benefit... 😋 I updated on fish tanks and also stressed on same point better... Take a look

That is true. But anything we put in the soil impacts the soil life and such. But there are remediation methods for different pollutants. Like certain fungi, adding zeolite or growing plants which will uptake the pollutant and then burn those plants. Even worms can take pollutants into their bodies and keep them there - well, until they die. All interesting stuff :)

very correct and good point... keep it up
and also look up the updated post

Thanks dear keep following as i will update tomorrow

A smart person once told me some fish are better to eat than others because they have less mercury or something.

Sure it's true...the one with higher Mercury is best use as fertilizer...😏

Interesting OK.

Fulvic acid is like fertilizer for your body

Thank you for your kind words! Because fish smells bad it probably has a lot of microbes or something.

Yeah..but using fish tank water comes with less smell
Updated on it...check it out..

I've heard fish heads under tomato plants are good, I'm guessing because of that calcium boost then. I feed carp to our chickens because it's an unwanted fish here in Australia. I don't know if it's as good if it's gone through the chickens first, but my hope is that the chickens benefit first, then the plants afterwards when the composted manure goes onto the garden.

Good option also if you have fish can as well use... I updated on it... Check it out..

Such a wonderful post. I never knew that decomposition could draw nutrients from the soil, and am glad to learn that today. Also I'll like to add that to prevent rodents from your plants after burying your fish, you should keep the environment around your plants neat, that is sweeping and cleaning the floors, etc so that there is little external attraction for rodents. Tanx

Good insight sir... Nice addition to the knowledge bank. thanks for sharing

thanks once more and do check my updated posts on aquaponics

good one dear... lets keep it real and steeming hot!

A good article with enough information! I like this article .. Can you share with me the secret of writing? Your article is very valuable, it's up to 100 dollars. @kenhudoy

hahaha... put many hours in research and perfect your posts.. thanks and i did updated a new post today... regards

Again, thanks for reminding me to check out your blog! This one only had one day to go, I managed to upvote it 100%. :)

Thanks for sharing! I'm using this liquid kelp fertilizer, which I keep forgetting to use. I'll make a note to use it tomorrow when I water: done. Next year we'll use the Native American method -- although my folks told us about having done that one year long ago, and every plant was uprooted by critters trying to get at the fish. Likely, they didn't plant down far enough.

Great. Do you have native American ancestry...😉