In some countries people like to eat animals that are still alive (e.g. dancing squid / octopus). Clearly these animals are not kosher, but it is also possible to eat kosher-types fish that are either still alive, or that may appear to be alive (e.g. still moving).

1) The Noahide laws (when translated to English) prohibit eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. But, are fish considered to be animals in this case? 2) According to my research, the act of removing fish from water qualifies as slaughtering them. But, removing fish from water doesn't actually kill it.

So, is it kosher to eat a live fish? There's a mention that it is kosher here: Why do Fish not need Shechita? , but there's limited discussion on the matter.

edit- to restate my question: Is it kosher to eat a live fish?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for bringing your question here. I hope you stick around and enjoy. But note that the site doesn't guarantee validity or offer rabbinic advice: treat info here like it came from some friends. ¶ Can I ask you to clarify? Namely: You mention Noahide laws, but are you asking about them? That is, is your question about the 'kosher' laws as they apply to Jews or to non-Jews? ¶ Finally, I suggest you register your account for access to more site features.
    – msh210
    Mar 24, 2014 at 6:28
  • Thanks for your comment. The reason I mention Noahide laws is because they supersede kashrut. If fish are considered as animals under Noahide, then clearly a jew cannot eat them while still living.
    – user5148
    Mar 24, 2014 at 6:36
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    I have no particular to reason to think that's correct. I do know that there are things that are forbidden to Noahides under their laws that are permitted to Jews under theirs (ours); I believe the classic case is that of a properly (according to Jewish law) slaughtered animal that has not yet ceased its death throes. That may possibly be applicable here (to fish), too, though I don't know. Perhaps you should edit in to the question whether you're actually asking about Noahide or Jewish law (or both) so you get the answers you seek. Cf. meta.stackexchange.com/q/66378.
    – msh210
    Mar 24, 2014 at 6:40
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    Does the fish have fins and scales?
    – Seth J
    Mar 25, 2014 at 0:36

5 Answers 5


Rama on Yoreh De'ah 13:1 says that it is forbidden to eat a fish while it's alive due to it being disgusting. (Baal Teshakzu)

Mishna Torah Hilchos Shechita 1:4 says it is permitted to eat live fish.

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    Is that really an objective rule?
    – Double AA
    Mar 24, 2014 at 16:37
  • I believe there's a place more explicit that excludes fish from the Isur.
    – Seth J
    Mar 24, 2014 at 22:35
  • mechon-mamre.org/i/5301.htm#4
    – Double AA
    Apr 10, 2014 at 15:39
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    maybe the rambam means "raw" not "live". I have seen the word "ochel chayim" refer to eating raw meat in the talmud.
    – ray
    Apr 29, 2014 at 5:25
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    @ray, good point, but see here for a longer discussion. The Meiri and the Maggid Mishna both say he means alive.
    – Yishai
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:06

According to Chullin 101b, Ever Min Hachai does not apply to fish and locusts and thus something like this might be permissible. However, nonetheless it might be considered Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim (Unnecessary pain to animals) and forbidden.

  • Does Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim apply to fish as well? I remember learning that it doesn't.
    – Esther
    Aug 4, 2020 at 7:49

I agree with gershon in regards that its disgusting according to the Rama. However I would assume that since fish don't have the prohibition of "you shalt not consume blood", and fish don't require kosher slaughter. So with those two concepts together it appears to me that fish aren't animals according to Torah law (with the exception to trapping and killing them on the sabbath.) and therefore regarding violating the noahide laws it's not a problem. However it is forbidden because it's disgusting


Rabeinu Yona in shaarei teshuva part 3 #93 says it is Biblically forbidden from the verse "You shall not make your souls abominable..." (Lev.11:43)

"we are warned from this verse to not eat things disgusting to the soul, to not eat a fish or chagav until it is dead..."


One should not eat live fish due to maras ayin, if not for any other reason. Onlooker might after watching it think it is okay to commit ever min ha chai.

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    Do you have any source for that idea? There are many things that we do that can be misconstrued but unless there is a rabbinical source forbidding it we do not assume something is prohibited because of maaris ayin
    – Jewels
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:55
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    Presumably there will be scales on the fish still if it's still alive, so no maras ayin.
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2014 at 13:39

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