• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

Composting fish carcasses!

 
Posts: 170
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
28
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We've had good luck composting mammal butchering scraps in 55 gal drums using wood chips to absorb the stink.  Gave it a try with some carp carcasses.  Holy stink!  Anyone else compost fish?  How do you do it?
 
Gray Henon
Posts: 170
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
28
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Going to add charcoal next go round and see if that helps...
 
gardener
Posts: 600
Location: Durham, NC
216
hugelkultur gear urban cooking building writing woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been composting for about 20 years and always avoided meat.  That said, if I were to stop avoiding meat, fish would probably remain on the "Danger, Will Robinson" list.  There are few things I've encountered in my life that stink worse than rotting fish.  There are things that do, but it's pretty high on the wretched stench list.  I have no doubt that activated carbon would help mitigate that.  But it seems like extra effort for little gain.  Like, put in 1 unit of compostable goodies, but also have to produce .9 units of work to make it worthwhile.  Also, if we can smell it even a little, it's probably like a lighthouse beacon for pests.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1560
Location: Victoria BC
219
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fish compost is made with fish plant waste & woodchips commercially around here. A friend did it for a while as well.

Nothing but woodchips and said waste fish... but the ratio neds to be right, and you gotta mix it, like with an excavator!

A barrel is way too small to hot compost, I am guessing that is an important difference..
 
gardener
Posts: 3163
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1160
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Fish fertilizer" is a thing, so there must be a way to process it, but then again, fish fertilizer may be pretty stinky.

I've only ever composted small quantities of fish and relied on "lots of carbon and other stuff" to contain the smell. Wood chips take a long time to decompose. They require special lignin digesting microbes which aren't in fish. I do have to bury lots of fowl guts and bodies and I've found that wrapping stinky stuff in old feed bags (heavy brown paper) so there are multiple layers surrounding it has worked better for me. Having things like "chicken shit inoculated wood-chips" below, around and above, also seems to help.
 
pollinator
Posts: 773
163
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've had good results with bokashi fermentation of the carcass and guys prior to adding it to the compost pile
 
gardener
Posts: 3201
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
866
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My mother's "fish barrel" (salmon offal and water left to ferment in the sun) was a legendary stink.

However, most of the heads and guts when the salmon were running got dug into trenches in the rows between raised beds, and got covered by lots and lots of decomposed sawdust.  The smell was pretty much restricted to that section of the garden, and not too dramatic.  However, digging root vegetables from those beds in September after burying the material in July was ... an adventure.  One wanted to be cautious about where to step or shovel.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 595
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
141
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Back when the fishing was good on the East coast of Canada, it was common practice to bury a "junk" fish under each potato plant. The results supposedly spoke for themselves. Perhaps the stink spoke loudly as well -- I have not found written mention of it.
 
Posts: 78
7
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a neighbor that composts fish from the local fisherman, and uses wood chips keeps turning for about a month and has beautiful compost. He calls it fish and chips 😂
 
Posts: 91
15
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I took part in a Rainbow Trout mort composting project using a 3 bin system built from pallet wood at the College of Southern Idaho Fish Hatchery in the early 90s. Each chamber was approx. 1 cubic meter. We kept daily records of the weight of the morts added. Each day's layer of morts was covered by about 10 cm of moldy straw.
It was interesting to see how bin #1 would fill to halfway in fairly short order and then take much longer to fill all the way up from there. The pile would really start heating up once it was half way and it would just kind of collapse on itself and start to decrease in volume even as we added morts and straw. Temps of 60c to 68c (140f to 154f) in the center of the bin were quite common once the system got going.
The smell could be intense if the morts weren't covered sufficiently with straw.
By the time the material made it through bin #2 there was no evidence that it was composed of about 80% dead fish by weight.
There was always a waiting list of people who wanted the black earthy smelling compost from bin #3 once it cooled down.
The CSI Fish Hatchery still composts the morts, 25 years after the research project ended.
 
What kind of corn soldier are you? And don't say "kernel" - that's only for this tiny ad:
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)
https://permies.com/t/147624/BWB-printing-pre-order-dealio
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic