How to Kill A Fish – 3 Quick And Humane Ways

How to Kill A Fish

How to Kill A Fish

Any living creature serving for human consumption deserves a humane dispatch. And fish is one of the prime illustrations. Leaving the fish die from suffocation, evisceration, or the combination of them is not how to kill a fish properly. It’s not only an unethical way of fish slaughter but also a distressing death for the fish. In these cases, the fish is very likely to make violent escape attempts. It’s thus essential to know how to kill a fish quickly and humanely. And this piece of writing will help you out by offering three different ethical fish slaughter methods.

There are three major humane methods for killing a fish: percussive stunning, severing the spinal cord and spiking a.k.a iki jime. And whichever method you are going to apply, make sure to remain the fish in water in prior to dispatch.

Percussive stunning

The percussive stunning method involves a nice and strong blow to the fish’s head using a blunt instrument. Thus, for the preparation, you should have a club or a priest. Otherwise, equip yourself with anything that you can hold firmly and deliver a correct blow with forceful pressure on the fish’s head.

Step 1 – Locate the blow

  • As this method requires a high level of accuracy and determination, this very first step is crucial. An effective stun is heavily dependent on the area of the skulls being affected. Thus, to ensure the optimum impact to the brain of the fish, it’s ideal to administer the blow as close to the surface of the fish’s forehead. In other words, try to aim at where the skull is thinnest.

Step 2 – Make an accurate and forceful blow to the fish’s head

  • As you correctly locate where to blow the fish’s head, it’s time for the action. A gentle blow is not how to kill the fish properly, but you don’t need to penetrate the head to be effective. Instead, the pressure of the blow should depend on the size of the fish. For most of the medium-sized fishes, it’s best to strike the club/priest like you are hitting a small nail into the wall.

Step 3 – Examine and correct

  • You know the blow is effective when the fish expresses no eye and no opercular movement. Also, there will be a projecting of muscle ring next to the pectoral fin. If you fail to stun the fish, re-stun it immediately. A tip to avoid failure is when you are positioning the blow, make sure it is not too far back from the head. Otherwise, you will not only fail to stun but also damage the flesh of the fish.

Severing the spinal cord

As this method involves cutting the throat latch of the fish, what you need is a sharp knife to make the cut clean and clear. Otherwise, the whole process will be you struggling with a violent fish trying to escape. Also, a blunt instrument will no longer be able to keep the concept of a humane and quick fish slaughter method.

Step 1 – Position the cut line

  • As its name already referred, the location of the cut line is right through the spinal cord. So in this step, you should hold the fish with one hand on their head and another on their tail area. And hold it like it’s in its natural pose under the water, this mean that the fish’s belly faces down the ground. Then, take a look at its throat latch to imagine your cut through this area.

Step 2 – Make a clean cut through the spinal cord

  • The ultimate goal of this step is to make an accurate cut through the throat latch. This area is under and between the fish’s gills. And once you make it through, proceed to bend the fish’s head back to break its spine. Finally, sever the spinal cord to completely dispatch the fish.

Step 3 – Examine and correct

  • This method does not only kill the fish quickly but also allows for thorough bleeding. And we all know that bleeding plays in important part in optimizing the food value. In case the cut is not deep and clean is enough, do it again with more force and accurate positioning. However, please note that this method is ideal for small to medium fish. Larger fishes will make the whole process very messy and stressful to perform.

Iki jime brain spiking

Among all the three methods, this one demands the highest level of skill and accuracy. But it’s worth the effort because if done properly, it is the best way to maintain the freshness of the food without much damage to its flesh. To do the iki jime method, a sharp metal spike should be in use as it can quickly pierce and destroy the fish’s brain.

Step 1 – Locate the fish’s brain

  • The best place to insert the spike is above the fish’s eye, where the small brain locates. Again, don’t travel far away from the fish's gill as you will poking the meat, and then fail to kill it. Quite similar to the percussive stunning, in this step, locating the brain of the fish is crucial. And to do this effectively, it’s also important to have a good understanding of the fish’s physiology.

Step 2 – Insert the spike

  • It’s best to make a one-inch-depth insertion into the fish’s head. However, the number may vary depending on the size of the catch. This action should be quick and determinedly. Otherwise, you will see the fish flapping vigorously and slip away from your control.

Step 3 – Examine and correct

  • After inserting the spike, you should feel the fish convulsing. Finally, after less than one minute, it will stop moving. Or else, if the fish is still flapping around or fight back vigorously, it means your cut is ineffective. In this case, you may come back to percussive stunning if another attempt does not work.


These fish slaughter methods are humane because they cause instant death for the fish or render it insensible to pain until its death. Fish slaughter indeed demands a lot of practicing and patience in order to improve the accuracy and appropriateness of force used. But it’s worth your time and effort as the value of the food will be maintained at its best. This walkthrough on how to kill a fill hopefully makes your practicing easier and sharper.


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