Fish Flushing: Why Toilet Funerals Need To Go

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Every fish keeper knows the pain. A fish passes on to the great lake in the sky, and you have to dispose of the body. The most common practice: plop the fish into the toilet, give it a final salute, and flush it to the great beyond. But did you know that this is actually a terrible practice? While it seems like a convenient and easy way to dispose of the corpse, fish flushing has certain risks associated with it.

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Did you conduct an autopsy when the fish died? Of course you didn’t, so it’s possible it could have died as the result of a parasite. When flushed, there is always a chance that the parasite will be passed on to. While there aren’t a whole lot of parasites that can be passed from fish to humans, these nasty critters can thrive in wild waters and cause detrimental damage to the species that live there.

Another reason not to flush your fish is the damage it can do to your pipes. If you’ve got a bigger fish, there’s the possibility of it causing damage to the pipes and other plumbing equipment on its way to its final resting place. And how if it gets stuck? Imagine the backup and stink that’s going to find its way back up to your bathroom!

Related: 6 Easy Hacks to Cure Fish Boredom

How to Ensure Your Fish will RIP

What should be done with dead fish? There are several options that are a lot better than the toilet.

  1. Bury it outside in a garden or yard. It will decay and fertilize plants, or offer a free meal to a hungry stray cat or raccoon. In this scenario, you are essentially giving the fish back to the earth.
  2. Put it in a bag and throw it into the garbage, although if you live in a warmer climate this can prove to be a smelly endeavor. A better way is to place the fish in a zip lock bag, along with some water and freeze it; dispose of it in the trash on the day of pick up. If this thought makes you queasy, double bag it and keep the fish away from any food you have in the freezer.
  3. As horrible as it may seem, some people flush living fish. These swimmers find their way to waterways still alive, and are invasive to the native species. There have been instances where goldfish have been introduced into waters via flushing, bred, and have destroyed ecosystems. If you don’t want your healthy fish, sell them, give them away, or trade them in to a pet store. If no other option is available, humanely euthanizing the fish by freezing it is a better option than flushing or dumping into a water system.

Fish are living creatures that deserve dignity in life and in death. If no other reason, that should be reason enough to stop flushing or dumping fish. Remember, many of the issues in the environment are the fault of humans, and the only solutions are to change the actions of humans as well. Know better, do better.

summerSummer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.