Can Goldfish Survive a Flush? Is It Okay to Flush Small Pets?

Can a goldfish survive being flushed down the toilet? And, whether dead or alive, is it okay to flush fish and other small animals? Let’s ask a professional septic and dewatering service in Bethel, OH.

Don’t flush goldfish or other pets

It’s a common belief that it’s okay to flush deceased (or even live) goldfish and other small pets—like hamsters, lizards and small birds—but it’s not. Introducing non-native fish species will eventually take a toll on ecosystems, meaning they can bring disease and even reproduce to the point of killing off native aquatic species, which is especially disconcerting if they have no natural predators to control their population growth.

On another note, it is never okay to flush fish and animals that are still alive. It’s extremely cruel, not because they could drown, but because they will encounter grinders and chemical breakdown in the wastewater system. Dead or alive, flushed animals are a threat to home plumbing, clogging pipes and damaging the sewer systems or straining your septic tank.

Ecosystem issues

You’ve likely heard the term “invasive species,” whether describing a nuisance plant, insect or animal. In general, invasive species can pose a real problem for your local ecosystem. Most invasive species are unintentionally introduced into an ecosystem, but did you know that a popular little pet found in many households in North America is a common cause? We are talking about goldfish. Yes, tiny little goldfish—but they only stay tiny when kept in small goldfish bowls. Given more space to live, a goldfish can grow to be the size of a football or dinner plate, or even bigger if they breed with larger fish. But let’s back up a minute—how are these goldfish getting into the ecosystem in the first place?

Parents have long flushed their children’s dead pet goldfish down the toilet instead of burying them in the yard, or have released live pet fish into the wild. In reality, both acts are detrimental to the environment. Goldfish that survive being flushed or released can quickly adapt and thrive in their new freshwater home, then spread to other areas. This creates a huge environmental impact.


Not only can non-native fish upset the balance of the ecosystem, they also bring foreign germs and diseases. Studies show that introducing pet goldfish into freshwater impacts an area’s ecosystem in more than one way. Though small, these fish—whether dead or alive—can be quick to introduce disease and impact water quality and harm native aquatic species. They are completely disruptive to their new habitat. The best thing you can do after a pet fish or other small pet has died is to give it a proper backyard burial, not a trip down the drain.

Flushing goldfish is bad for the ecosystem and can be damaging to sewer and septic systems, so don’t do it! If you are in need of a professional septic and dewatering service in Bethel, OH, make sure your first call is to the team at Gullett Sanitation Services Inc.

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