Can You Eat Fish Scales?

Learning about fishing can be very interesting and a lot of fun. It’s an exciting feeling to catch your own food. There’s quite a bit of work involved after catching a fish to get it ready for your dinner plate.

If you’re looking to cut back on that work, you may be wondering “can you eat fish scales”? The short answer to the question is yes, you can. You can safely eat the fish scales without causing any harm to yourself. That doesn’t mean you would want to though. The fish scales do have some minerals and healthy fats in them.

Don’t let his bit of healthy knowledge encourage you to leave those scales on. If you eat the fish with the scales removed your body will still get a healthy dosage of these minerals and fats.

What is Eating Fish Scales Like?

If you’re thinking about skipping a step of cleaning that fish up for dinner and leaving the scales on, then you are not about to have a treat. Think about what it’s like eating popcorn when a piece of kernel gets stuck in your teeth. Pretty annoying, right? 

Just imagine every bite of popcorn you took has around 7 or 8 kernels in it. That is what eating fish scales is like. Getting one popcorn kernel stuck between your teeth is irritating enough. Can you imagine sitting through a meal where something hard was getting stuck in your teeth with every bite?

If you are ever preparing fish for a date night then you can understand why it’s important to remove all of those scales.

Types of Fish Scales

Interestingly enough, there are 4 different types of fish scales. Each type of fish scale is different in its chemical composition as well as it’s size. Some fish scales are a little bit healthier than others. Let’s take a look at the 4 different types of fish scales.


Placoid scales are usually flattened rectangular shapes. They can be found on sharks and rays. These scales don’t change in size as the fish grows. New scales grow in to fill up the empty space. 


Cosmoid scales are very similar to placoid scales in shape and size. They are usually found on fossil fish as well as lungfish. These strong scales consist of two layers of bone, a layer of dentine, and a final layer of vitrodentine. This is not a scale that would be fun to bite down on.


Ganoid scales take on the shape of a rhomboid and articulating peg and socket joints in between them. These can be found on a wide variety of fish such as sturgeons, bowfin, and paddlefish just to name a few.  

Cycloid ; Ctenoid

The cycloid and ctenoid scales are the most common type of scales found on bony fish. These scales have greater flexibility than the other ones because the anterior part of the scales is overlapped by the posterior part of the scale in the front. 

Nutritional Properties of Fish Scales

As unappetizing as it sounds, there are still some great nutritional properties of fish scales. If you really want to eat them then you may as well learn about what makes them good for you. 


Fish scales have a healthy dosage of collagen in them. Collagen is great for helping to improve ligaments, and bones, as well as supporting joints. Adding more sources of collagen to your diet can help you achieve softer skin and stronger hair and nails. So, maybe fish scales can help make you prettier.

Extra Omega-3 and Other Healthy Fats

One of the most common reasons people add fish to their diets is because fish is loaded with healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish with the scales still on is just a way to get even more of these healthy fats into your body. Omega-3 fatty acids are a great way to help build healthy brain cells, keep your heart healthy, and prevent a stroke from happening. 

Okay, so maybe there are some great nutritional properties to fish scales. They also seem like they could help fix a lot of beauty issues naturally. So, is there a more appetizing way to eat fish scales? 

Fish Scale Jelly

We couldn’t talk about all the wonderful things fish sales can do for your body without introducing a more appetizing way of eating them. If you would like an easy way to add more collagen to your diet then consider putting this healthy jelly on your crackers.

What you need:

  • 1 bowl of fish scales
  • 3 bowls of water
  • 2-3 pandan leaves
  • 150 mg red dates
  • 150 mg dried longan

How to make:

  1. Thoroughly clean all the fish scales
  2. Add pandan leaves, scales, and water to a pot
  3. Bring the pot to boil
  4. Simmer for a few hours until the scales have dissolved
  5. Once dissolved, filter the fish scales
  6. Add dried longan
  7. Cook for an additional 30 mins
  8. Pour into a jelly mold and allow it to cool in the fridge for 4 or more hours.

If you don’t plan to consume the whole batch of jelly within 7 days, then make sure you freeze what you don’t eat to avoid waste. Don’t worry, the process of making this jelly (and the results) don’t have a stink fish smell to it. That is why this jelly is a much more pleasant way to get your collagen fix from fish scales.

Final Verdict: Can You Eat Fish Scales?

Yes, fish scales are edible. That doesn’t mean you’re going to want to eat them though. Imagine trying to have a nice conversation at dinnertime with fish scales finding room in your teeth upon every bite? That doesn’t sound like a very appetizing dinner.

Fish scales do have a lot of nutritional benefits to them. If you are looking for a way to naturally add more collagen and healthy fats to your diet then consider trying the fish scale jelly recipe as a much tastier alternative to eating scales left on the fish. 

You may also be interested in learning: How to Scale a Fish

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