How Long Can Fish Be Dead Before They Go Bad?

If you’re a seafood lover or a fisherman, you may have wondered: “how long can fish be dead before they go bad?” It’s an important question because eating bad fish can lead to food poisoning and other health problems. In this piece, we’ll talk about the things that affect how quickly fish goes wicked and give you tips on how to store it so that it lasts longer.

 In general, however, fish should be eaten within 24-48 hours of being caught.

After this time, the fish will begin to deteriorate, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

That is because fish contains bacteria that can make you sick. For example, botulism, salmonella, and E. coli are all caused by bacteria in foodstuffs. The more extended the fish is at room temperature, the more likely it will get ill.

 Can Fish Be Dead Before They Go Bad? Factors

Fish is a nutrition that goes nasty quickly, and its shelf life depends on several things. Once fish is caught, its quality goes down quickly, and if it is not stored and handled properly, it can fast go poorly. The elements that affect how long fish can be dead before they go bad include the type of fish, temperature, handling, time since death, and packaging.

  • The type of fish plays a crucial part in determining its frame life. Some fish, like oily salmon and mackerel, spoil faster than lean fish, like cod and haddock. It’s because oily fish are more likely to go sinful. After all, they have more fat. Further, certain types of fish have a higher bacterial load, which can also donate to spoilage.
  • Temperature Fish should be stored at temperatures between 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) to maintain it fresh for a longer time. If fish is held at higher temperatures, it will spoil faster. That’s because higher temperatures make it easy for bacteria to grow and spread, which can make fish go bad. Keeping fish in a cool place and checking the temperature often is important to ensure it stays in the right range.
  • Handling is another important thing that affects how long fish will last. How fish is treated after it is caught can impact how fresh and tasty it is. If the fish is handled wrongly during cleaning and processing, it can hurt the skin, which can cause bacteria to grow and make the fish go sinful. Fish should be taken carefully and kept clean to avoid getting sick.
  • The time since death seems to be another significant factor affecting how long fish will last. The more extended the time since the fish has died, the greater the risk of spoilage. Even when fish is kept properly, it will eventually hurt. The rate of spoilage increases as time passes since the fish has died. It is essential to consume fish immediately after it is caught.
  • Packaging Fish should be stored in containers that are made to hold fish. The packaging needs to be airtight and maintain moisture. If something isn’t packaged right, it might not be nice. Vacuum-sealed packaging is ideal for keeping fish as it removes air from the package, which helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Signs That a Fish Has Gone Bad

Even if you follow all the recommended guidelines, it’s still possible for a fish to go bad before the two-day mark. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Foul smell: A strong, unpleasant odor indicates that a fish has gone sinful. If the fish smells like ammonia or bleach, it’s time to toss it.
  • Slimy texture: Whether the Fish feels slimy to the touch, it’s a sign that bacteria are growing on it.
  • Discolored flesh: If such flesh is discolored or has a brownish tint, the fish is probably not extended fresh.
  • Dull, cloudy eyes: The eyes of a fresh fish should be clear and bright. The fish may be past their prime if they look dull or cloudy.

Freezing Fish for Later Consumption

If you cannot eat a fish within two days of catching or purchasing it, you can freeze it for later consumption. If you freeze, fish can stay fresh and tasty for a few months. But there are some important rules to follow when freezing fish:

  1. Choose fresh fish: Make sure the fish you plan to freeze is fresh. Fresh fish will freeze better and last longer in the freezer.
  2. Clean and prep the fish: Clean the fish and remove any scales, bones, or guts. You can also cut the fish into smaller pieces if you prefer.
  3. Wrap the fish properly: Use plastic wrap or freezer bags to wrap the fish tightly. Ensure no air is trapped inside the wrapping, which can cause freezer burn.
  4. Label and date the fish: Use a permanent marker to label the fish with the date it was frozen and the type of fish it is.
  5. Freeze the fish: Place the wrapped fish in the freezer and ensure it’s stored where the temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
  6. Thaw the fish properly: When ready to use the frozen fish, thaw it properly in the refrigerator or by placing it in cold water. Don’t thaw it at room temperature, as this can cause bacteria to grow.

Can You Keep an Ungutted Fish in The Fridge?

How long you can keep a whole fish in the fridge depends on many things, like the kind of fish, how fresh it was when you bought it, and how cold your fridge is.

 Generally, you can keep an ungutted fish in the fridge for up to two days. 

However, it’s important to note that this timeline can vary depending on the abovementioned aspects.

Ensure your fridge is set to the right temperature to save food fresh. The ideal temperature for storing fish is between 32°F and 38°F (0°C and 3°C). Anything above this temperature can cause the fish to spoil more quickly.

Tips for Keeping Fish Fresh

  • Purchase Fresh Fish: The quality and taste of fish depend on how fresh it is. Choose fish with bright eyes, shiny skin, and a fresh smell when buying it. Avoid fish that looks dull, has sunken eyes, or scents fishy. Buying fish from a fishmonger you can trust and who knows how to store fish properly is also important.
  • Store Fish Properly: After purchasing fish, it is essential to store it correctly to ensure it stays fresh. Fish should be stored at temperatures between 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) to keep it fresh for a longer time. Store fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator and ensure the fish is not in contact with other food items. If the fish is not consumed within a day or two, it is best to freeze it.
  • Clean fish Properly: To hold catch fish fresh, clean it right. Rinse the fish well under cold water, then dry it with a paper towel. Remove any scales, guts, and other debris from the fish. If the fish is going to be filleted, remove the bones with a sharp knife and cut the fish into the pieces you want.
  • Use Proper Storage Containers: Fish should be kept in containers that don’t let air in so that moisture doesn’t get in. Fish should be kept in the fridge in plastic bags or containers. Ensure to get as much air out of the bag or container as possible to stop oxidation, which can cause the fish to go bad.
  • Freeze fish Properly: If fish is not consumed within a day or two, it is best to freeze it. Fish should be frozen below 0°F (-18°C) to prevent freezer burn. Wrap the fish tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Label the container with the type of fish and the date it was frozen.
  • Thaw Fish Properly: When thawing frozen fish in the fridge, it’s important to do it slowly. Never let fish thaw at room temperature or in warm water because this can cause bacteria to grow and make the fish go bad. Give the fish enough time to thaw in the fridge before you cook it.
  • Cook Fish Properly: Cooking fish properly is essential to ensure its quality and safety. fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the fish.

Importance of Proper Fish Storage

Fish must be kept because it can go bad quickly and make you sick. When you store fish correctly, it keeps its taste, texture, and nutritional value. It also makes the food less likely to get dirty or go bad. Here are some tips on how to store fish properly:

Clean the Fish

Before storing fish, make sure to clean it thoroughly. Flush the fish under cold water and remove all the scales, guts, and other unwanted parts. Use a sharp knife to fillet the fish and remove the bones.

Use Ice or Chilled Water

Storing fish in ice or chilled water is one of the best ways to keep it fresh. Place the cleaned fish in a container and cover it with ice or chilled water. The fish should be completely submerged in the water.

Store in a Refrigerator

If you’re not planning to use the fish immediately, store it in a refrigerator. Wrap the fish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The ideal temperature for storing fish is between 32°F to 38°F.

Freeze the Fish

Freezing is another great way to store fish for a more extended period. Wrap the fish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the freezer. Make sure to label the package with the date of freezing.

Use Vacuum Sealing

Vacuum sealing is an excellent way to store fish for extended periods. It removes all the air from the packaging, which helps to prevent freezer burn. Place the cleaned fish in a vacuum-sealed bag and store it in the freezer.

Final Thought

 Knowing how long fish can be dead before it goes bad can help you avoid the risks of consuming spoiled fish. By following proper storage guidelines and using your senses to determine freshness, you can ensure that the fish you consume is safe and delicious. So, always remember these tips and confidently enjoy your seafood meals!


 How long can fish be dead before they go bad? 

It depends on the type of fish, the temperature at which it is stored, and how it was handled before being refrigerated. Generally, fish should be consumed within 2-3 days of being caught or purchased.

 Can you tell if fish has gone bad by its smell? 

A strong, unpleasant odor indicates that the fish has gone bad. If you notice a fishy or ammonia-like smell, it is best to dispose of the fish.

 Can you still cook and eat fish that has gone bad?

No, it is not safe to consume fish that has gone bad. Consuming spoiled fish can lead to food poisoning and other health problems.

 How can you properly store fish to prevent it from going bad? 

It should be stored in a clean, airtight container and refrigerated below 40°F. Fish should also be cooked or consumed within a few days of purchase or catching.

What are some visual signs that fish has gone bad?

Some visual signs that fish has gone bad include a slimy texture, discoloration, and cloudy or milky eyes. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the fish.

Can you keep an un-gutted fish in the fridge?

You can keep an un-gutted fish in the fridge, but there are several things to consider before doing so. First, it is important to note that keeping an un-gutted fish in the fridge can lead to the fish spoiling faster than if it were gutted because the guts have enzymes and bacteria that can break down the fish faster.

How long can you keep an un-gutted fish in the fridge?

As mentioned, an un-gutted fish should be used within a day or two to avoid spoilage.

Is it safe to eat an un-gutted fish?

While it is technically safe to eat an un-gutted fish, it is not recommended. As mentioned, the guts contain enzymes and bacteria that can cause the fish to break down quickly and spoil faster. Eating spoiled fish can lead to food poisoning, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Emma is the wordsmith behind the insightful articles and guides on our website. Her extensive research and passion for fishing shine through in every piece she creates. Whether sharing angling tips or delving into the latest conservation efforts, Emma is dedicated to providing valuable and engaging content.