Can You Bury a Fish in an Indoor Potted Plant?

There are several types of ways you can fertilize your indoor plants, some use store-bought plant fertilizer, while others make compost from leftover scraps. If you were told that some bury fish in an indoor potted plant, you might think that’s insane. So, can you bury a fish in an indoor potted plant?

You can bury a fish in an indoor potted plant, and it will not harm the plant. In fact, it can actually benefit your plant’s overall health and is easy to do. 

In this article, I will discuss the proper way to bury a fish in an indoor potted plant, the benefits of doing so, and some toxins to watch out for. Let’s get started!

Using Fish-Based Fertilizer for Plants

Using fish ingredients in fertilizer is no new practice. There are a lot of fertilizers out there that are fish-based and usually have fewer harmful chemicals than other fertilizers. That said, you may not have heard of burying pieces or a whole fish in your indoor potted plant. 

An article from Ground to Ground states that this type of fertilization has been dated back to the Native Americans, who taught pilgrims to put fish scraps on their crops to help them grow.

Fish fertilizer is organic and provides a ton of nutrients. So, if you have leftover fish from dinner, why not bury them in the potting soil to fertilize your plant? Or you can buy packaged fish and use it specifically for your plants. 

Now, you may wonder which type of fish to bury in your potted plant. You’ll want to use fish that are most common for human consumption. Such as:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Cod

Usually, the fish heads and other scrap parts that aren’t eaten can be used for your plant. These parts of the fish are typically scrapped as people don’t want to eat them. It is also possible that e toxicity levels are too high in these fish parts, which makes them unsuitable for consumption.

If you’d like to learn how to turn fish waste into fertilizer, you could check this article out: Can You Turn Fish Waste into Fertilizer? 7 Facts

How To Properly Bury a Fish in an Indoor Plant

Although it is very easy to bury a fish in a pot, there are a few steps to follow to get your plant the maximum benefits.

  1. Get the fish you will use and cut it into smaller pieces.
  2. Make sure you have your plant, a flower pot, and soil ready. 
  3. Put a thin layer of soil in the bottom of the flower pot, and then add the pieces of fish on top and spread out.
  4. Add more soil on top, and then add your plant.
  5. Place more soil around the plant until it is full and the plant is stable. 

It really is just that easy! Putting the fish pieces in the bottom of the soil is the best way for the nutrients to spread throughout the soil. If you throw scraps of fish on top of the soil, it isn’t going to do much good. 

You don’t need to worry about removing the fish later down the road. It will eventually decompose entirely, and you can always add more if you change the soil or repot your plant. 

There is a downside to burying fish in your potted plants, and that’s the smell. Even though the fish is buried at the bottom, a slight odor can still come from your plant. 

However, you can sprinkle some baking soda on top of the soil. Just make sure it’s not directly on the plant. The baking soda can help the fish smell and won’t harm the plant. 

Benefits of Burying a Fish in an Indoor Potted Plant

Now that you know about fish fertilizer and how to properly bury fish scraps in your indoor potted plants let’s talk about all the benefits of doing so. Fish can provide natural nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, and other minerals that plants need. 

Adding fish into your soil releases these nutrients as the fish decomposes. These nutrients are crucial for plant health, and adding more into the soil will do wonders for your plants. 

Let’s look at what these nutrients do and why they are essential to plant health.

  • Phosphorus is vital to plant health because it helps plants convert the sun’s energy into growth and reproduction. So adding fish can increase the amount of phosphorus in the soil, helping your plant greatly.
  • Nitrogen plays a crucial part in the function of a plant and helps build proteins and enzymes within the plant. Burying a fish in your indoor plant is a great way to get organic nitrogen.
  • Potassium aids in the movement of nutrients, water, and carbohydrates within the tissue of a plant. These three movements are vital to the plant’s overall health, so potassium is a much-needed nutrient.
  • Calcium helps with the structure of cell walls and membranes, which are physical barriers against pathogens. So, the more calcium your plant receives from fish, the better equipped it is to fight against diseases. 
  • Iron is needed for photosynthesis and chlorophyll synthesis. Photosynthesis is how plants consume carbon dioxide and then release oxygen which is necessary for a plant to live. 

Using store-bought fish fertilizer or burying fish scraps in plant soil has been proven to increase the overall health of the soil and soil fertility. Soil fertility aids in growth and helps your plants stay healthy.

Plants have been known to become more tolerant of diseases if they’ve been fed with fish or fish-based fertilizer. For plants that bear fruit or other crops, using fish-based fertilizers can help the plants bear vegetables or fruits produced that are larger and of better quality. 

Be Aware of Toxins

You need to watch out for toxins, especially if you’re burying the fish into the soil of indoor plants that might end up in food like basil or other herbs and spices. 

Some fish can contain harmful toxins from water pollution. The most common toxin is mercury, which usually is only found in bigger fish. 

Chlorinated pesticides are also another toxic to look out for. This toxin is mainly found in fish that feed on the bottom of bodies of polluted water. So be careful where you get your fish from. 

These toxins will benefit your plant but they can be toxic to you if you’re eating the fruits or leaves of the plant. So if you’re using fish scraps in indoor plants that are used for food consumption, make sure you choose your fish wisely. 

Do some research and get fish from trusted grocery stores; you should be fine. 

Other Uncommon Fertilizers  

There are several other uncommon things you can add to your plants’ soil besides fish. 

Some are food items that don’t seem too odd, but there are other items you would never consider adding to your soil. However, these unusual fertilizers are rich in several nutrients that can benefit plants, just like fish.

Here are the items you can use in soil and what nutrients they’re rich in:

  • Coffee grounds: Nitrogen, Potassium 
  • Aquarium water: Phosphorous, Nitrogen, Potassium
  • Molasses: Iron, Calcium, Potassium
  • Egg shells: Calcium 
  • Powdered Milk: Calcium
  • Hair: Keratin
  • Ashes: Phosphorus, Calcium, Potassium 

The items on this list may seem like they could do more harm than good to your plant, but don’t worry; these are entirely safe. Always research before adding a unique item to your potted plant to ensure that it will supply your plant with the nutrients it needs.

You can read my guide on how to naturally fertilize indoor plants here: How to Naturally Fertilize Indoor Plants (Ultimate Guide)

Final Thoughts

Burying fish in your indoor potted plants is highly beneficial. Fish scraps have been used for years to aid the growth of crops. You’ll need to bury the pieces of fish in the bottom of the pot and lay the soil on top. 

Fish can provide nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and iron. These are helpful when it comes to plant health. The only downside to using fish fertilizer is the smell and chance of toxins from polluted waters. Toxins won’t bother the plant, but they can harm humans if the plant is being used for food consumption.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts