How to Tell if Catfish Has Gone Bad (& How to Make Them Last Longer)

Catfish can live between eight to twenty years in their natural environment, which is longer than the average age for freshwater fish, which is two to three years.

So, how long do you think they could survive outside the water? Do you know how to tell if they are gone bad?

How to tell if catfish has gone bad? The easiest way to tell if the catfish has gone bad is to smell and look at the fish, if it is smelly, pale-colored, with a slimy texture, these are the signs of a bad fish. This happens because of bad storage or the fish has passed its shelf life.

Continue reading to know more about how to store a catfish and make it last longer.

How to tell if catfish has gone bad? 

knife opening catfish to show how to tell if catfish has gone bad

While the fresh catfish will catch your eyes with their bright white or pinkish color, freshwater smell, and shiny skin, the bad catfish should also catch your attention (in a bad way) as its signs are noticeable like the sour smell, dull color, and sticky texture.

In general, buying catfish from a place where there are many people purchasing fish daily such as the fish market, reduces the chances of ending up with bad fish, but it never eliminates it.

When you are looking for a good catfish, you should not only rely on the fish smell, as long as the fish is tender with a bright shiny skin it will be good to cook because sometimes the smell of the fish doesn’t seem good for you, at the end they are a raw fish which will always smell bad for some people.

How long do catfish stay good in the fridge? 

Fresh catfish do stay good in the fridge for up to two days, according to the food and drug administration. While some anglers say that a fresh catch of catfish can stay up to three days in the fridge, it is always better to stay on the safe side.

Usually, raw catfish can stay good in the fridge for one to two days, and cooked ones can stay good for three to four days.

If you are planning to cook raw fish after more than 2 days, the freezer is your best option to store the fish for five to six months and you can thaw it whenever you want to cook. 

Note if you use the microwave or cold water to defrost the catfish you need to cook it immediately because it will go bad if you stored it in the fridge or the freezer again.

If you are planning on catching the catfish yourself, make sure you know how to properly kill the catfish after catching it as they have a tendency to stay alive for longer than you think (and they make the weirdest sounds).

How long does it take for catfish to go bad?

A catfish can go bad after two hours if you left it at room temperature, especially because fish skin can grow bacteria quickly in the 40 degrees to 140 degrees temperature range.

Note that the fatty fish have a higher chance of getting spoiled, and they do so more quickly, so if you are going to buy a piece of a catfish make sure to check the sell-by date because sometimes it expires during their storage time, especially with catfish’ short shelf life. 

How to make your catfish last longer?

As we mentioned before the methods to store your catfish, you will notice that the best way to make your catfish last longer is to store it in the freezer, which makes the catfish last for more than 5 months, whether the fish is raw or cooked.

The best ways to store the catfish in the freezer are

  • Method 1: Wrap fish with their original store-packing in heavy-duty foil.
  • Method 2: Put the catfish in a zip lock bag with one inch of water, zip the bag, press to remove the air outside the bag.

What happens if you eat spoiled fish? 

If you eat spoiled fish you can catch one of the food poisonings. Two types of food poisoning can happen from eating fish, ciguatera poisoning and scombroid poisoning. 

The symptoms of food poisoning appear a few minutes to six hours after eating a spoiled fish.

Ciguatera poisoning and scombroid poisoning symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Itchy, tingly, and numbness of the skin

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve testeI’vezens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightIt’sht, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d haveyou’dde selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looyou’reor a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be you’llg two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the sit’sgest, toughest mono I’ve ever I’veed and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t findcan’ter options

Related Questions 

How to tell if fish is bad frozen?

To tell if the fish is badly frozen the fish will have a freezer burn which is dry flakes or patches colored white or gray, their weight becomes lighter than its original weight, and while you are thawing the fish, you will notice a slimy film on its surface and sour smell.

How to treat food poisoning?

Our bodies can clean up the food poisoning on their own within a few days. You can help your body pass these days by preventing dehydration by drinking enough amount of water daily because your body will lose a lot of nutrients and minerals through vomiting and diarrhea.

Also, you should avoid heavy, spicy, and fast food, dairy products till you pass the food poisoning case. 

Wrap up

The best way to tell if the catfish has gone bad is to inspect and smell it. The bad raw catfish signs are sour smell, dull color, and slimy texture. The bad frozen catfish signs are freezer burns, lighter weight, and slimy films with a sour smell during thawing. Check the sell-by date before buying a catfish. 

You need to know when you will cook the catfish before you store it, so you can choose the best way to keep the fresh fish in a good condition.

This schedule will help you 

Room temperature (40 degrees)RefrigeratorFreezer
Fresh catfish 1 – 2 hours1 – 2 days5 – 6 months
cooked catfish 2 – 4 hours3 – 4 days2 – 4 months

Fish food poisoning signs appear a few minutes after eating a spoiled fish and sometimes it takes six hours to see the poisoning signs. Once you notice the food poisoning signs, take some rest, eat healthy food, drink a lot of water daily and your body will deal with the poisoning clean up.

Helpful Resources 

How to tell if Frozen Fish has gone bad

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

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