How Long is Fish Good in the Fridge?—All You Need to Know

cover image representing storage facts of fish in refridgerator

Fish, as a flavorful treat, is popular worldwide and cherished by all through time. The freshness of fish helps in its distinctive taste and texture. The most risky factor related to fish is its storage. However, the journey from water to the refrigerator is crucial to a point. This journey determines its freshness, taste, texture, and shelf life.

You may be thinking of storing your favorite fish in the refrigerator at a normal temperature, but the truth is, that is not enough. There are many things to take care of if you want fish to store for a long time and to get the exact flavor. This article will help you understand ‘How long is fish good in the fridge’?

Factors Affecting Shelf Life

Do you know what makes the culinary varieties of fish enticing and mouthwatering? It is nothing but the freshness. Ingredients of that particular dish come secondary, but the freshness of the fish is the primary point of taste. There are many factors that you need to be careful of while storing fish to keep it fresh as long as it will stay. 

Temperature: Usually, a consistent temperature below 40°F is recommended for storing food items in the refrigerator. Maintain that temperature to keep the fish fresh and prevent bacterial growth. 

Airtight Containers: Using clean airtight containers to store fish helps prevent air exposure and contamination.

Cross-Contamination: While handling fish, make sure you are using clean utensils and containers to prevent any cross-contamination due to leftover food, uncleaned utensils, dust, etc. 

Thawing: Thawing fish in the refrigerator helps to prevent bacterial growth. It may take a few hours, but it will help you eat fresh flavored fish. 

Quality and Species of the Fish: The quality of fish while purchasing is also important to keep it long. Moreover, fish with more oil content will not stay for a long time in the refrigerator. Though it will last for 1 to 2 days, it will lose its original flavor. 

image rep[resenting a fish platter

Shelf Life of Fish in the Refrigerator

Raw, fresh fish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It is mandatory to keep it in an airtight container to slow down bacterial growth and any contamination. Keep a consistent temperature of below 40°F in the refrigerator.

Shelf Life of Cooked Fish in the Refrigerator 

Cooked fish contains spices or salt, which can help them stay for a longer time than fresh fish. Hence, it will stay for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Use airtight containers to store it and maintain a consistent temperature to prevent any contamination due to sudden temperature changes. 

Fish Varieties and Storage Life

There are many varieties of fish, and these varieties have different shelf life. 

  • Some lean varieties like tilapia have a longer storage life due to their thick and firm structure, and low-fat content. 
  • Salmon is an example of fish with high oil content. These varieties will not stay for a long time due to the texture and fat content. 
  • Usually, white fish will stay for a long time in the refrigerator.
  • Shrimps and crabs tend to lose their freshness and quality in a very short time. 
image representing grilled fish platter

Signs of Spoilage

To prevent any foodborne diseases and stomach discomforts, it is essential to observe the fish before consumption. Even if it is cooked or raw, both varieties need a quality test.

Mold Formation: If you find any gray or green spots formed on the surface of the fish, probably cooked fish, it indicates a fungal activity on the dish. 

Foul Smell: Fresh fish have a smell like seaweed or sea. But if it starts smelling like ammonia, or you feel like anything unpleasant, it indicates spoilage, and you need to discard the whole fish. 

Texture Change: Fresh fish is firm in texture. If you find the fish slimy or too soft to handle, it indicates that the fish has got bad. 

Color: The color of fresh fish is bright, and it gives a fresh feel. But, a yellowing of the flesh and skin indicates a spoilage. It is always good to buy fish by observing its color to get quality ones. 

Eyes: Fresh fish do not have cloudy eyes, instead, it will be shiny and clear. Most people buy fish after observing the eyes and overall color. That helps in buying fresh fish.

Observe all these signs before buying fish. Consuming spoiled fish may cause mild to severe stomach issues. While in the refrigerator, fish can get spoiled due to the temperature fluctuations and also because of the low quality. Use your senses to make sure that you are buying a good quality one, which can determine how long fish last in the refrigerator whether it is raw or cooked.

How to Freeze Fish?

Freezing fish is the best option to keep it longer and fresh for months. If you have no plans to use the fish for 2 to 3 days, freeze it. 

  • Keep it in an airtight container, or if the fish is raw, use the original bag while freezing it. 
  • While transferring the fish to airtight containers, make sure the containers and other utensils are clean and fresh to prevent any contamination. 
  • Mention the date on the label to use the fish on time.
  • Thaw the fish in the refrigerator. It may take some time but will help to regain the texture and freshness up to an extent. 
  • Refreezing thawed fish is a bad idea, as it may lose its flavor and texture fast. 
image representing a fish platter


When you are buying fish, make sure it is fresh, and use it fresh to get the exact flavor and quality of food. And if it is cooked, consuming it within two days is good for you in all ways. Fishes are highly perishable and prone to developing bacterial growth within them in a very short time, hence it is suggested to freeze fish if you want to keep it for months. Following all the tips and guidelines, go get your fish and enjoy it in your way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can I keep fish in the refrigerator?

A fresh quality raw fish will stay for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, keeping the texture and flavor the same. Before keeping it in the refrigerator, make sure it is clean, and use an airtight container or the original package. Cooked fish can stay only for up to 4 days. 

Can I refreeze cooked fish after thawing?

Cooked or raw fish can stay for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and a few months in the freezer. Once you thaw frozen fish, do not refreeze it because it may lose some of the moisture content and freshness.

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