How to Kill a Catfish? [Best Practice]

Understanding how to kill the fish is crucial in preparing catfish for your meal.

A catfish can be killed in several ways, but it’s essential to consider humane procedures and safety measures.

Various methods for killing catfish include pithing, spinal cord severing, and blunt force trauma.

Catfish may be prepared humanely and efficiently by using the proper techniques.

Depending on cultural customs and personal preferences, many methods may be used.

Prioritizing the fish’s welfare while ensuring a rapid and painless operation is crucial.

What is the best way to kill a catfish before cleaning?

There are several humane ways of killing a catfish before cleaning it.

They include:

Pithing Method

Pithing includes cutting the spinal cord behind the catfish’s head with a sharp and pointed knife, effectively disconnecting its central nervous system.

The catfish will die painlessly thanks to this quick and compassionate procedure.

Pithing is an excellent option for chefs because it ends suffering and helps maintain the fish’s quality and flavor.

Severing the Spinal Cord

Another method includes cutting the catfish’s spinal cord, which can be accomplished by slicing it with a sharp knife or striking the head with force.

The fish dies quickly and painlessly due to spinal cord injury because brain impulses are disrupted.

Making a clean, accurate incision reduces potential pain or suffering.

Blunt Force Trauma

The catfish’s skull’s central region is the target of a forceful blow in a procedure known as blunt force trauma.

It can be done with instruments like a matchet, knife, or similar tools.

The goal is to die quickly and humanely by administering a single, powerful blow that efficiently shatters the skull.

To reduce any potential pain or suffering, it is essential to make sure that the force is accurate and sufficient.


In an ” icing technique,” the catfish is soaked in ice water or an ice slurry to cause hypothermia.

The catfish becomes unconscious and finally dies as a result of this.

The catfish’s metabolic activities are slowed by lowering the temperature, resulting in an unresponsive state and, ultimately, death.

The use of ice reduces bacterial growth and enzymatic activity, preserving the fish’s quality and freshness.

Since icing helps maintain the flavor and texture of fish, it is frequently used to store fish.

To ensure maximum efficiency, it is crucial to shorten the period between catfish capture or death and icing.

Cutting off The Head

The head is chopped off as a typical and humane way to kill a catfish.

A sharp knife or scissors are frequently used to separate the catfish’s head from the body.

The catfish’s head and body can be separated by cutting both sides behind the gills.

It can be accomplished using pliers or a tight grip to release the head.

Electric Stunning

An electric shock is administered to the catfish using specialized electric equipment, rapidly knocking it out and ensuring its quick demise.

This method is frequently employed when stunning animals before slaughter to reduce pain and misery.

The catfish’s brain receives the electric shock, which interferes with regular brain activity and renders it unconscious.

Does Salt Kill Catfish?

Yes, catfish can be killed with salt.

When salt is introduced to the fish, a process known as osmosis causes the fish to lose water from its cells, which ultimately results in dehydration and death.

However, it is not considered humane to kill catfish using salt.

It’s crucial to remember that there are various techniques for humanely and effectively killing fish, such as the Iki jime method.

Should You Kill Catfish Before Cleaning?

It’s up to you whether to kill a catfish before washing it.

Some kill the fish to preserve freshness and reduce pain, while others clean it immediately.

However, a more controlled and humane method is possible if the catfish are killed first.

Can I Use Lemon To Wash Catfish?

Yes, catfish can be washed in lemon.

Lemon juice’s acidity interacts with amines in the fish to lessen its fishy flavor and odor.

The fish can be soaked in lemon juice or any other acid to help eliminate odors.

How Do You Remove Catfish Skin?

There are various techniques you can employ to remove catfish skin. Here is a detailed guide:

Using a fillet knife, make a shallow, slanted cut on either side behind the gills, meeting in the stomach.

Pin the pectoral fins while holding the catfish firmly in your left hand.

Make a shallow cut across the fish’s head along the backbone from the dorsal fin to the adipose fin.

After removing the fillet, there are two techniques to remove the skin.

First, place the fillet close to the edge and use a knife to peel off the skin delicately.

If you like, you can ensure a clean separation by moving the skin and flesh apart back and forth.

The skin can also be removed by putting hot water over it and then employing a dull knife to scrape it off.

For simpler skin removal, always use a sharp fillet knife.

Does Boiling Water Remove Catfish Skin?

Yes, the skin of a catfish may be peeled with hot water.

One way is by covering the skin with boiling water to make peeling off easier.

The hot water’s aid in relaxing the skin makes removing it from the flesh easier.

It’s crucial to remember that this approach might not be as popular as slicing the skin off with a fillet knife.

While boiling water is an alternative strategy, selecting the one you find practical and efficient is preferable.

Can I Use Baking Soda To Wash Catfish?

Yes, catfish can be washed in baking soda.

Baking soda is said to clean the fish’s skin and eliminate the slimy substance from catfish.

Note that utilizing baking soda for cleaning catfish is probably not as popular as using other methods such as vinegar, lemon juice, or hot water.

Always choose the most efficient and practical method.

What Happens If You Put Salt On A Catfish?

Catfish’s slimy skin has a high viscosity that can be decreased by applying salt.

The slime can be removed from the fish by applying coarse salt to its body and then cleaning it.

The fish can be cooked using this manner after a thorough rinse.

Salt’s abrasive qualities help to lessen the sliminess of catfish skin.