How to Identify Fresh Fish: A Guide to Selecting the Best 

Incorporating fish into your diet, whether smoked, fried, baked, or stewed, is a hallmark of healthy eating due to its rich nutritional profile. However, the most nutritional benefits are derived from fresh fish, making it crucial to be vigilant when selecting them. Freshness may not always be immediately apparent, but there are key indicators to look for that can ensure you’re choosing the best. 

Features of fish freshness

Eyeing the Freshness

The eyes of a fresh fish are your first clue to its quality. They should be bright, clear, and slightly bulging, though some species may naturally have flatter eyes. The pupil should be distinctly marked and not obscured. Be wary of eyes that are dull, sunken, or cloudy as these are telltale signs that the fish may not be at its peak freshness. 

The Texture and Shine of Fresh Fish 

The flesh of a fresh fish should be firm to the touch, and its scales should have a natural shine and adhere closely to the skin. Dull scales or any apparent damage to the skin should raise concerns. A simple test for freshness is to press the fish lightly with your finger. If the flesh bounces back, leaving no indentation, it indicates freshness. If the fingerprint remains, it’s best to avoid purchasing. 

Gills: The Color of Freshness 

The gills of fresh fish offer another vital indicator of its freshness. They should be a rich, bright red or pink, with clear and distinct gill filaments. Pale or discolored gills suggest that the fish has been out of water for some time and is likely past its prime. 


Selecting fresh fish is an art that enhances the quality and taste of your meals while ensuring you receive the maximum health benefits. By paying close attention to the eyes, flesh, scales, and gills of fish, you can make informed choices about their freshness. Fresh fish is a delightful addition to any meal, providing flavor, nutrition, and variety to your diet. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re at the market to ensure you bring home the freshest catch.