WHY DO FISH SMELL FISHY?
Well, what else are they going to smell like? Birds? LOL!
Actually, they’re not supposed to smell fishy. The meat of
a fresh fish is almost odorless. Any smell it may have is
probably the result of something it ate or the type of water
it was in when caught. Fish take on that really fishy smell
only when they’re dead and bacteria and enzymes go to work
at breaking down the tissue.
Fish come equipped with a compound called trimethylamine
N-oxide. Fish scientists think they use this stuff kind of
like antifreeze. It lowers the freezing point of their body
And it’s that compound that makes fish smell like fish when
You have some trimethylamine N-oxide in you, too. You get
it from eating eggs, liver, soy products and fish, and for
the most part that’s fine.
However, about 1 percent of the population has a glitch in
the genes that affect the way the body processes the stuff.
The result is that their breath smells like dead fish. This
is called trimethylaminuria or fish-breath syndrome, and
you have to figure it can’t be a very fun thing to have.
It wasn’t until about 1970 that doctors figured out what
was going on. It can be controlled with antibiotics and diet.
So the next time you run into your friend with the breath that smells like last Sunday”s lox and white fish fest, tell him/her to see a doctor- quick!