Anyone raise feeder fish to feed their chickens?


12 Years
May 23, 2007
I am experimenting with growing duckweed in containers in the house to feed my chickens in winter.

Duckweed thrives on nitrogen, and I am starting to think that instead of adding fertilizer, it might be fun to add feeder fish, like guppies or something, so the fish poo can be the nitrogen source.

Then I could feed my birds the extra fish and the duckweed this winter for protein and greens.

I want the feeder fish project to be easy if I do it, like raising meal worms or compost worms is easy. I don't want to have to spend a lot of time or $ for equipment. Anyone try anything like this crazy scheme?


11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
I set up many fish tanks with no filters. You will need some type of substrate though to provide a surface for good bacteria to live. Gravel, sand, etc... and stir it occasionally to get oxygen to your good bacteria or you'll get bad bacteria that creates deadly stinky gases which will kill your fish. Sand is more likely to cause that than gravel. Certain bacteria must colonize a tank or the fish will be poisoned by their own waste even before the plants can use it up. The bacteria will break the waste down into nitrates that the plants can use and isn't as harmful to fish. The plants will turn co2 into oxygen so they don't suffocate and since you are using a surface plant it will also pull co2 from the air as needed so they can produce even more oxygen. Really substrate, plants, and dechlorinated water is all you need to keep a few hardy fish. It's the fact people want to put lots of fish into small amounts of water in order to have lots to look at that makes fish tanks so complicated with the need for filters. People also tend to badly over feed fish and then need the filter to clean the excess food and waste out. Feed them very very very sparingly. They will eat off the plants some and if you put the containers outside they will eat bugs and don't need fed at all. Inside they need just a tiny sprinkling of flakes.

If you really want to be sure everything is balanced you can buy a liquid nitrate test for about $5 (not the strips they are not accurate). If the nitrates are 40ppm or less your guppies will live. If it gets over 40ppm you need to change some water and possibly remove some guppies or clean some of the gravel so there is less waste or they will eventually be poisoned. Too high of nitrates can also lead to algae covering your duckweed. A test kit isn't necessary but it takes out the guesswork especially if you've never kept fish.

Do not try to do this with feeder goldfish. For one they will eat all the duckweed. The biggest problem though is goldfish are messy. You cannot keep the levels in a small container of water at a point they will live with just plants. You need a very large container of a water like a large stock tank and then the tank will probably grow tons of algae to keep up with the demands.

Also another reason not to use goldfish to feed anything. Feeders in fish stores are full of diseases. Breeding them for a generation or 2 usually clears out the disease which goes by quick with guppies but won't happen with goldfish. People who use feeders frequently have their own breeding tanks so they don't pass something on to the animal their feeding.

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