How to Use a Fish Scaler

Written by ehow sports & fitness editor
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A fish scaler does just what the name implies--removes the scales from fresh fish. It makes a simple process of a duty that can be difficult. A soft skin is left behind. The fish you buy at the market is usually de-scaled. But if you're planning on catching your own, or cooking fish whole, then you need to remove the scales yourself.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Choose your fish scaler. There are several different kinds on the market today. Some are simple, handheld instruments. Others are large motorized commercial appliances. Those are designed to scale several fish at once. For in-home use, you should buy a simple hand held fish scaler.

  2. 2

    Grip handle firmly if you're using a hand held scaler. Drag the device down the fish's body. Use short strokes going from the tail to the head. The jagged blade lifts each scale, then removes it.

  3. 3

    Using an electric scaler is also relatively simple. Pull the scaler down the body of the fish. The machine rotates or vibrates and cleanly pulls the scales off. Electric scalers are waterproof.

  4. 4

    Handling a commercial fish scaler is only necessary if you fish for a living. Put fish inside the large drum. As it tumbles, the rough sides of the drum pull the fish scales off. Stop the scaler and remove the fish when complete.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're filleting a fish, you will remove the scales along with the skin. Save yourself a step and don't bother using a fish scaler.
  • Always rinse off the fish in water after removing the scales.
  • Commercial fish scalers aren't always practical because some fish may be damaged while inside the tumbling drum.
  • Be careful if you use a knife blade to remove fish scales. You can hurt yourself on the sharp blade or on the sharp fins of some fish.

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