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Uses for Duckweed

This list of over seventy uses for duckweed is by no means final, but is meant to give you an inkling of what is possible. I can’t lay claim to developing all of them. A big thank you goes out to all my fellow duckweed enthusiasts from around the world who have been kind enough to share their experiences with me.

Disclaimer: As this is only a list, please exercise common sense and safe practices in any application.

Uses for Duckweed

Indoor Pets

  1. Hamsters and Gerbils
  2. Mice
  3. Goldfish, Bettas, Koi
  4. Turtles
  5. Aquarium water cleaner
  6. As a fish laxative
  7. Frozen duckweed treats

Organic Gardening

  1. Compost
  2. Soil amendment
  3. Green mulch in vegetable gardens
  4. Green mulch in fruit orchards
  5. Green mulch for potted plants
  6. Green mulch for flower beds

Animal Feedstock

  1. Ducks and geese
  2. Chickens- layers and brooders
  3. Pea fowl
  4. Rabbits
  5. Sheep
  6. Hogs
  7. Goats
  8. Cattle
  9. Fermented feed for livestock

Aquaculture

  1. Tilapia
  2. Grass Carp
  3. Koi
  4. Catfish

Pond Health and Management

  1. Measurement of  waste nutrient loads in ponds
  2. Algae suppression
  3. Frog haven
  4. Water health of pond
  5. Suppression of mosquito larvae
  6. Minimize evaporation of water
  7. Cooler water columns
  8. Suppression of underwater vegetation
  9. Burning duckweed to drive away mosquitos
  10. As a cover to protect fish from predators

Vermiculture

  1. Material for worm beds

Soldier Fly Propagation

  1. As breeding ground/compost medium
  2. Closed loop system

Bioenergy

  1. Biomethane
  2. Ethanol production
  3. Duckweed pellets for home heating
  4. Electricity

Wastewater Bioremediation

  1. Wastewater remediation of nitrogen and phosphorus
  2. Polisher of heavy metals and biological pathogens
  3. Interplant with wetland plants for prolonging season
  4. Waste nutrient recycling of duckweed into animal feedstock, bioenergy, etc…
  5. Retaining pond or canal around agriculture fields to collect fertilizer leachate for bioremediation (thanks for the reminder, Ken Carman!)

Integrated farming

  1. Farm animal/biomethane/duckweed semi-closed loop systems
  2. Aquaponics- tilapia/hydroponics/duckweed semi-closed loop systems
  3. Combined fish/duckweed systems

Art

  1. Photos
  2. Waterscaping Outdoors
  3. Waterscaping Indoors
  4. Chlorophyl Art
  5. Dried duckweed applications

Social Inter-relations

  1. Neighborhood duckweed pond recycling
  2. Bartering duckweed for goods or services

Health

  1. Chinese medicinal uses
  2. Homeopathy

Human Food

  1. Lemna recipes
  2. Watermeal recipes
  3. Protein tofu and refined powdered source for protein additives

NASA

  1. Space travel research
  2. OMEGA project research

Research

  1. Gene manipulation for wide variety of applications
  2. Indicators of variances in research testing

Education

  1. Duckweed science experiments for kids
  2. Lessons in sustainable aquaculture
  3. Promotion for sustainable wastewater reuse

Commercial Uses

  1. As large-scale protein feed supplement
  2. As large-scale bioenergy feedstock
  3. Bioplastic raw ingredient  (Thanks Ryan Hunt!)

© Tamra Fakhoorian 2012   No portion may be copied or used without express permission of the author.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Patricia Keljik permalink
    February 10, 2014 11:17 am

    Can you apply live duckweed directly to a lawn as fertilizer without composting?

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    • February 17, 2014 3:11 pm

      Hi Patricia, I have not tried that as I primarily have been working with it for fresh mulch and compost applications. I’m guessing that if you composted it first, you’d have a more even spread rate, won’t kill off young grass sprouts with a heavy blanket of fresh duckweed, and the nutrients will be in a form that gives faster results. (It won’t have to biologically break down as that was done already in the compost bin.) I would try using fresh duckweed in a manure tea that is sitting in the dark. Haven’t done that yet, but if the wet duckweed can be allowed to break down even quicker than in a compost pile, it would be an added benefit to your lawn.

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  2. Terri Shaver permalink
    August 24, 2013 9:54 am

    We have a pond, about three acres COVERED in duck weed and have been looking for methods to kill it, as it has become so prolific over the years, that it has killed every fish in it. But, after reading much of the literature out there and examining this site, I’m now reconsidering our ‘green gold’ crop. I literally harvested a 5 gal bucket in less than 30 minutes and will be applying it to my cold crop garden that just went in just a month ago here in Michigan.
    I’m wondering more about how to dry and compost it or uses for chicken feed, which will be my next use.
    Can someone comment or send me to a site(s) that might have more information?
    Thank you!
    Terri S.
    Michigan

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  3. April 18, 2013 8:41 pm

    Hello,
    I’m creating an Aquaponic Garden for my school and would love to get some duckweed! If you could ship me some I would be really appriciative. Please send to Po box 145, Windsor Colorado, 80550, and email me at kissthevegan@gmail.com

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    • Julie Snyder permalink
      August 8, 2013 4:49 pm

      I could get lots to you. We sell it by the pound.

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  4. April 3, 2013 11:40 am

    I have a method of harvesting Duckweed that could provide a constant and free stream of it through a floating pipe. Several of my Bossy units placed in series could provide an industrial supply, if it were available. Anyone have a supply? I have a friend in Louisiana that is looking into it now.

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  5. Joanie permalink
    October 8, 2012 1:01 pm

    WHAT DO WE FEED DOCKWEED IN AN ADQUARIUM ENVIROMENT?

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    • October 9, 2012 10:49 pm

      If you’ve got fish, then you are in luck as far as nutrients go as the duckweed utilizes fish waste. Keep an aquarium light lite up for 8-12 hrs a day or more. Thanks for reading!

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  6. Hazel M permalink
    September 14, 2012 1:47 am

    its all very well growing it yourself in a garden pond – but please, please be very carefull not to spread it into the wild! its highly invasive and chokes out native plants. Its a persistent and expensive problem here in the UK

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    • September 14, 2012 7:19 am

      Hazel, you are absolutely right. Duckweed’s very nature of being the fastest-growing protein-packed vascular plant in the world doesn’t mean it should be introduced into natural waterways. Far from it. I advocate man-made ponds dedicated to just duckweed with provisions for overflow control. However, if it IS a massive problem in your UK canals, I hate to say it but it isn’t the duckweed that is the problem, it’s the human element that is causing the excess nutrient leaching. I know you can only do so much about that, given your situation. A clear surfaced canal doesn’t mean a healthy water body. Nature is trying to balance an excess of nutrients with duckweed. If killed off or allowed to overpopulate and die, it sinks to the bottom and the excess nutrients just go through the cycle again. Perhaps we can discuss a program of seeing duckweed as a positive and encourage canal residents and neighbors to see duckweed as a free fertilizer/compost for their garden. Win/win.

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      • June 14, 2013 12:42 am

        Ace reply! Thank you! We have tons of it here in Japan, it pops up like, weed! Hence we also have the prettiest carp fish you can imagine in just about any body of water over 10 gallons…!

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        • June 14, 2013 9:41 pm

          Would love a picture of carp eating duckweed in the wild. Thanks for following. Hope you can find uses for it in your everyday life.

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      • Anonymous permalink
        July 8, 2013 5:48 pm

        should be harvested and used for compost

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        • July 8, 2013 7:52 pm

          Yep, I agree. Have that down under “organic Gardening” above.

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  7. September 13, 2012 10:49 pm

    Now you know why duckweed is like green gold in sustainability efforts.

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  8. Clifton Santiago permalink
    September 13, 2012 12:02 pm

    You could feed thousands with the amount of duckweed in Regent’s Canal!

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    • November 21, 2012 9:35 am

      Clifton, duckweed is so easy to harvest, local farmers could do just that. Just be sure that the runoff into the Canal is not from an industrial use. Then I’d check the biomass first for heavy metal contaminants, etc… Municipal waste is usually perfectly fine for duckweed use and then on to ducks, hogs, chickens, etc…

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  9. Emma permalink
    April 16, 2012 7:38 am

    Hi, thank you so much for all the useful information! I’v been looking for information about this amazing plant, and here i certainly found some!
    I live in Finland and so far have spotted no natural Wolffinia in here. Nevertheles i collected some on my trip to Italy. now i’m growing a tiny collection of it on my window board.I would be really interested in growing it as human food for my family. The question is can i use it just like that as an addition to salad, smoothie etc. is there any danger in eating self grown Wolffia arrhiza just like that? I tasted it and the taste was surprisingly neutral.

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    • April 22, 2012 1:45 pm

      Emma, thanks for your interest in duckweed for human consumption. This is a relatively unexplored application in the US. I have been in contact with leader researchers around the world and are designing a growing method. The challenge is growing it in a relatively germ-free environment to assure a clean, safe product. According to Dr. Lewis Landesman, people in Thailand and Burma eat it or have in the past, calling it “water eggs.” There are recipes on the Net for using it as a salad with onions, lemon juice and oil, salt and pepper. I’ve seen it incorporated into muffins and quick breads. I hesitate to advise eating it raw due to possible issues with E. coli, etc. Will keep you posted on this.

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  10. March 9, 2012 3:27 pm

    Thanks! If you come up with any more, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list and give you credit.

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  11. yassin permalink
    March 9, 2012 3:21 pm

    Thank you for all the info tamra :)

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