Can You Eat Fish with Rigor Mortis? [Answered]

You bought fresh fish from your local market. But you found that the fish is stiffening after a few hours. 

Well, the fish is in Rigor Mortis!

Can you eat fish with Rigor Mortis?

Yes, normally you can eat fish with Rigor Mortis. But there’ll be effects of Rigor Mortis on the fish. Firstly the fish fillets can break and cause gaping problems. Then your fish might start shrinking. So, the fish muscles will become tough to eat. You can even lose nutritional value from the fish!

But there are more details and solutions to these effects. So stay with us to get the best guideline on Rigor Mortis of fish.

Eating Fish with Rigor Mortis? 

Yes, you can eat fish with Rigor Mortis. But there will be some side effects. You will miss the real taste of the fish if you eat it with Rigor Mortis. So it is better to eat fish without Mortis. 

You see, the fish won’t give you frustrating problems like pudding getting watery in the fridge. But it’ll have some changes. 

So, we have discussed the effects of Rigor Mortis below for your convenience. Let’s look at that to decide whether you want to eat fish in Rigor Mortis or not. 

What are The Effects of Rigor Mortis? 

During Rigor Mortis the body of the fish gets hard. Because the muscles start to get stiff. The body doesn’t remain soft as it was right after the death of the fish. 

Therefore, this affects fish production and taste in several ways. 

Broken Fillet 

This is one of the very common effects of Rigor Mortis. The muscles of the fish break out and a shaggy appearance is seen in this case. 

This happens because of the contraction of the fish muscles. Rough handling during Rigor can cause this problem too.

During Rigor Mortis the fish muscles try to contract. The skeleton and connective tissues resist this contraction.

Once the strength of the connecting tissues decreases a lot, the muscles contract fully. And the body breaks at places. This phenomenon is also known as gaping. 

Increased Toughness 

The fish can become tough as a result of Rigor Mortis. This toughness is seen during and after the cooking of the fish. As a result, during eating the fish will feel hard and stingy. 

This toughness in fish is mainly due to drip loss during Rigor Mortis. Drip loss also depends on the temperature at which the fish was during Rigor Mortis. With higher temperatures, the drip loss will be more too and the fish will become stiffer. 

However, this problem can also occur if the fish isn’t refrigerated properly. But don’t get confused about fish. You have to follow the proper ways of freezing to avoid stiffening.

Shrinking of Fillets 

The fish fillets can shrink up to thirty to forty percent of their original size. And again it’s because of Rigor Mortis. This is also the consequence of the gaping of the fillet.

The incident of gaping takes place when the connecting tissues can no longer resist the contractions. The skeleton still tries to stop the muscles from closing in. 

But when the fish is cut the resistance of the skeleton gets removed. And this results in the shrink of fish fillets.

Loss of Nutrients

Loss of nutrients is mainly seen in the cases of meat Rigor Mortis. But it can not be ignored in the case of fish as well. 

When the fillets become hard it takes time to cook them. As a consequence of overcooking the nutrition value of the fish decreases highly.

These are all the effects of Rigor Mortis in fish. Now it is your choice to avoid or eat fish in Rigor Mortis. 

We have some suggestions to help you in getting rid of Rigor Mortis effects below-

How to Avoid the Effects of Rigor Mortis? 

Now that you know the effects of Rigor Mortis on fish you will surely want to avoid it. But for that, you have to know the correct methods. 

The methods are as easy as cooking ¼ cup of rice. Try the following methods to avoid Rigor Mortis in your fish.

Method 1: Keeping The Fish Chilled 

It is a very good way to avoid the Rigor Mortis in fish. There is a direct relationship between temperature and Rigor Mortis. So by keeping the temperature low you can avoid the effects of Rigor.

When a fish is chilled appropriately the effects of Rigor are minimal. In this way, the quality of the fish will be maintained too. This technique is equally applicable for meats. 

So make sure to chill the fish but in the correct ways.

Method 3: Cooking Before Rigor Mortis

The event of Rigor Mortis doesn’t take place right after the fish is dead. It takes some hours before the start of Rigor. This time varies depending on the types and conditions of the fish.

So, if you process the fish before this time the quality can be saved. But it’s almost impossible to start the processing of the fish right after its death. 

However, if you can collect fresh fish directly from the water bodies you can avoid Rigor Mortis.

Method 3: Giving Enough Time to Avoid Rigor Mortis Phase 

The Rigor Mortis of the fish is not a permanent condition. This condition stays for some days and goes away. Then the fish muscles again become soft and free of contractions.

The period of Rigor is also dependent on the fish itself. Usually, this time is about five to seven days. If you can wait this period you will get a Rigor Mortis free fish. 

But there will be effects of time on the fish and quality will decrease.

These are all the ways of escaping from Rigor Mortis. There’ll be changes in fish quality like the differences of salted and unsalted butter affects a crab legs dish. 

So follow our methods properly to avoid any kind of damage to the fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fillet a Rigor Mortis fish?

It is possible to fillet a Rigor Mortis fish. But doing mechanical fillet is quite hard on Rigor Mortis fish. Even hand filleting becomes tougher than normal time.

How long is a dead fish good to eat?

The best time to eat a fish after its death is within 24 hours. The fish should be cleaned for two hours. The fish must be preserved if kept for a long time.

Should you bleed a fish after it’s dead?

Yes it is a good practice to bleed a fish after its death. Because blood holds bacteria that degrade the fish. Bleeding will reduce the degradation rate.


We have tried our best to answer your query- can you eat fish with Rigor Mortis.

You can see that Rigor Mortis decreases the quality of the fish. So it’s better to process the fish before and after this incident. 

Enjoy your fish curry!