What Is Culling In Fishing?

Having a massive quantity of fish in an aquarium requires fish lovers to take care of several things at once. The management of undesired young fish is the most common among them. The most famous method for getting the job done is culling the fish. That said, what actually culling means in fishing?

Culling is the removal of unwanted young fish from the aquarium to prevent overcrowding and habitat deterioration. When thousands of fish hatch simultaneously in fish farming, it requires fish breeders to efficiently manage the fish clutch by keeping the healthier ones and culling the rest of the others.

It is not unusual to think about the legal consequences of culling. We also had the same fears when we were newbies in the field. You may also think about the difficulty of dealing with the culled fish. The following sections of the blog will discuss such things in detail, in addition to exploring culling in a fishing tournament. 

What does Culling mean?

What does Culling mean

In simple terms, culling refers to the selective reduction or control of animals and other livestock in wildlife management. Similarly, it means the removal of selective fish from an aquarium to maintain a healthy habitat in fish farming.

There are several instances where anglers have to consider culling as an ultimate option for a sustainable and healthy habitat for fish. The most common among them revolves around the size of the aquarium.

When several fish incubate simultaneously, it creates the problem of overpopulation. As a result, it becomes impervious for fish farmers to remove the least desirable.

Housing a massive amount of young fish is not the only issue. Other resources are limited too. For instance, if the fish breeders cannot feed an overwhelming quantity of young fish, they would undoubtedly keep the healthiest ones and cull the malnourished and undesirable ones to maintain a healthy environment.

Another essential factor that leaves anglers with no option other than culling is the transmission of infectious diseases. When certain members of the aquarium get infected with an infectious disease, the removal of those fish becomes necessary from the pond. In this way, the only way to prevent further transmission is to cull the infected members as soon as possible. 

Is Culling Fish Inhumane?

Culling fish undoubtedly seems harsh at first as it involves the killing of unwanted fry.  However, we would instead consider it normal and in accordance with nature. There are millions of species in our ecosystem, and all of them produce offspring. However, not every offspring born makes it to adulthood as it involves the survival of the fittest. 

The case of fish is no different from others. A large percentage of newly born fish never make it to adulthood because they are hatched in excessive amounts, and only the strongest ones survive ultimately. Additionally, it will also disturb the supply of natural resources if every fish fry could survive naturally.

On the contrary, the fish fry that cannot survive in the natural habitat become a source of food for the rest of the aquatic community. They are full of protein and are one of the primary food supplies to other members of the community. In this way, the ecological balance is maintained in any habitat. 

The reason for quoting an example from natural habitat is to be aware that all of it involves the survival of the fittest. Mother nature itself supports the strongest utilizing the weaker elements of the ecosystem. In the same way, culling fish is not inhumane and is rather pretty natural. 

How Can You Cull Fish?

Culling fish apparently seems alarming if you are doing it for the first time. However, things will get normal as soon as you start considering the process normally. A pro-tip in this regard would be to keep the natural process of the survival of the fittest in mind to get rid of this fear and guilt.

The primary step in culling the fish is identifying the weaker fish that are to be culled soon. In the next step, you will have to separate the identified more fragile fish fry from the rest of the community. The last step involves discarding the picked-out fish in the best manner possible.

The first and probably the most complicated step in culling the fish involves identifying weakfish fry that you should separate from the rest. The following things will help you in sorting out the weak from the stronger ones;

  • Discoloration
  • Distorted shape
  • Smaller size
  • Passiveness
  • Paleness

Keeping in mind the factors mentioned above, one can easily filter out the sick fry from the strongest ones that need a healthier environment for growth. After you have successfully identified the candidates for culling, you are all ready to go for the second step.

The second step involves the separation of the identified weaker fish from the healthier ones. This step is relatively easy and consists of no complications. You will notice that the selected fish show less activity than other healthier ones in the tank. Moreover, you can use a basket for the collection of the deformed fry.

The last step in the process involves discarding the culled fish in the best way possible. The most commendable way of utilizing the culled fish is to use them as feed for adult fish in another tank. The culled fish are full of protein, and believe me; the adult fish will love the nutritional value they obtain from the culled ones.

We find it pertinent to mention here that you should always consider the positive side of the culling throughout the process. It is super beneficial for healthier fry that would have a healthier environment for sustainable growth. In the absence of culling, you will notice problems such as overcrowding, malnutrition, deformation, and destruction of the entire habitat. 

What Do You Do With Culled Fish?

As we mentioned in the last step of the culling process, the best way to utilize the culled fish is to use them as feed for the adult fish.

The same happens in the natural habitat where stronger adult fish use weak dead fish as food for them. No one can deny the nutritional value of culled fish for the fittest in the habitat.

There are other methods too if you do not want to go for culling because you may still find it a barbaric and unjustified act. The first option is to visit the nearest pet shop to see if they show any interest in buying the fish from you. This option works best for people who have highly desirable species of fish that are not common in the market.

Another viable option is to visit different places that have an aquarium. You can visit different schools and colleges to check if the administration allows for fish donations.

There are many business offices in the cities that usually have an aquarium in the lobby of the building. You can also contact them to see if they are willing to accept the excess fry from you.

If all the above options do not work for you, consider buying a bigger aquarium to separate different types of fish without killing them. In this way, the already stronger species will flourish better in a separate environment without compromising the lives of weaker ones as they will have a new house in the form of an aquarium. 

How Do You Cull a Fish in a Tournament?

How Do You Cull a Fish in a Tournament

In tournament fishing, the process of culling involves replacing the already caught fish or releasing it as the team reaches its maximum limit. Culling the right fish in the tournament is extremely important as it can be a game-changer move if done correctly. 

The following are the two widespread methods of fish culling in a tournament;

  • Electronic fish culling systems
  • Manual fish culling systems

However, we prefer the electronic method as it is very straightforward and easy once you get to know how things are done using this system.

Electronic Fish Culling Systems

In electronic culling systems, you will have to attach the culling stringers to the fish by clipping. These stringers are color-coded to help recognize the weight of the fish attached to the stringer.

A culling scale in the system will indicate the fish to be removed from the live well and replaced by a new one. In this way, anglers carry out culling with an electronic system.

Is Culling Illegal?

In general, culling is legal in many regions if you follow the proper procedure and prevent things that are prohibited by the law. You cannot kill animals inhumanely in the name of culling. The law requires pet and farm owners to follow certain guidelines before carrying out culling.

You cannot cull animals using cruel methods that cause the utmost pain and torture to the animal. There are specific guidelines on who can carry out the culling and what methods are appropriate. For instance, only a certified vet can carry out culling for some species using an appropriate method.


Culling fish is normal and resembles the natural process of the survival of the fittest. However, there are other options too if you do not like culling at all. The ball is in your court now; only you can decide which method intrigues you the most.