How Long Can Thawed Fish Stay In The Fridge?

Thawing fish in the fridge is an easy way to get it ready to cook after being frozen. However, if you’re not ready to cook your fish immediately, you may be tempted to leave it there. Since food can spoil, even in the refrigerator, how long can thawed fish stay in the fridge? 

Before going bad, thawed fish can stay in the fridge for two days. After two days, it is likely that the fish has spoiled. You may experience a foul smell coming from the fish when it has been in the fridge too long.

How Long Can Thawed Fish Stay In The Fridge

Whether it is a freshwater or saltwater variety, fish is a delicious, healthy meat that can be worked into breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fresh fish has a mild, aquatic smell. Sometimes, fresh fish will not smell like much at all. 

While there are other methods of defrosting fish, letting it sit in the fridge overnight is a convenient ‘set it and leave it’ method. After it has been left to thaw overnight, fish should be cooked right away. Leaving it for more than two days can lead to spoiling. 

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How Long Can Fish Stay In The Freezer? 

You may decide to not consume your fish within 2 days of taking it out of the freezer. To keep it safe to eat, wrap it up and freeze it again. You can wrap it in foil, freezer paper, or another moisture-proof covering. 

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Once it is in the freezer, the USDA states that most fish can be stored indefinitely. While that is true, it might not be best to do so. Taste and texture could suffer if fish has been frozen too long. 

Frozen shellfish is best used before the 3-12 month mark in the freezer. For whole raw fish, that time shrinks from 3-8 months. To tell how long fish has been in the freezer, note the date it was frozen somewhere on what you wrapped it in. 

How Can You Tell If Fish Is Spoiled? 

Spoiled whole fish will have a distinct, foul odor. For lack of a better term, it will smell too “fishy”, or have an ammonia-like scent. If the fish is whole, you may notice discoloration around the gills. 

On fish fillets, aside from the smell, another telltale sign of spoilage is sliminess. Fresh fish will be moist to the touch, as any raw meat is. However, if you detect a slimy texture, this is a red flag that it is no longer safe to eat.  

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What Are The Dangers Of Eating Spoiled Fish? 

Eating fish that has been thawed in the fridge for more than two days is a dangerous idea. Specifically, you could contract scombroid food poisoning if you’ve eaten fish that has fallen into the temperature danger zone

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Scombroid Food Poisoning

Scombroid food poisoning is a foodborne illness that can begin to show symptoms 10-60 minutes after consumption. It is caused by a type of bacteria that thrives in fish at certain temperatures. 

Symptoms include flushed skin, blurry vision, gastrointestinal issues, and a headache. These issues can linger for up to two days. You may also experience an elevated heart rate or a body rash. 

Treatment is usually in the form of antihistamines. Epinephrine may also be administered to help with severe symptoms.

Related post: How Long Does Thawed Shrimp Last in the Fridge


If you are going to thaw frozen fish, letting it sit in the fridge overnight is a solid, safe way to do so. If you change your dinner plans, the question of how long thawed fish can stay in the fridge crops up. According to the USDA, thawed fish will last for two days in the fridge. 

If you’re concerned that your fish may be frozen, give it a smell. Spoiled fish will be foul, and could carry an ammonia-like odor. As well, if your fish is slimy or squishy, it is no longer safe to eat. 

Eating spoiled fish could lead to food poisoning. To circumvent this, keep fish frozen; raw fish can be stored in the freezer for 3-8 months.