Salmon vs Tilapia: Main Differences and Which is Better?

Published Categorized as Fish Or Seafood, Ingredients

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Tilapia is a mild-flavored fish that is quite affordable and commonly used in different types of seafood cuisines. Many prefer tilapia since it’s so affordable and doesn’t pack a very potent fishy flavor. It’s not uncommon for many to prefer one type of fish over the other, and while some people may adore the flavourful salmon as well as its abundance of health benefits, which is better? Let’s take a look at the main differences between salmon and tilapia.

Table of Contents

What is Tilapia?

Initially native to Africa, tilapia has quickly spread in popularity and is presently farmed in over 100 countries. Tilapia refers to several species of predominantly freshwater fish that belong to the cichlid family. Farm-raising tilapia is both ideal and common since the fish doesn’t mind being raised in a thick crowd of relatives, meaning a less expensive product for the rest of us to consume. The health benefits and risks of consuming tilapia heavily rely on the varieties of tilapia farming practices, before they are deemed unsafe or questionable to consume.

Tilapia vs Salmon – Which is Better?

In terms of lean protein, tilapia is the fish to go for, carrying the benefits of all edible fish. However, there are some troubling facts that can deter many. Tilapia has ten times more toxins compared to wild-caught fish, so it may be a good idea to steer clear of tilapia unless you’re completely certain that the tilapia you’re looking to purchase is wild caught and not raised on a fish farm.

When comparing the essential benefits of both salmon and tilapia, it’s probably best to opt for salmon in place of tilapia, especially if you’re after a more than clean protein. The main reason why salmon is a commonly consumed fish is due to its monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Furthermore, salmon happens to have incredible omega-3 fatty acid that aids in the prevention of inflammation and heart disease.

Meanwhile, tilapia also has omega-3 fatty acids but at considerably lower levels. However, tilapia has high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which essentially create the opposite effect of omega-3 fatty acids, causing tissue inflammation and heart disease. Fish like tilapia can cause imbalances in the body, which can lead to further health problems. Although tilapia has more protein, given the large quantities of omega-6 fatty acids, it’s no wonder why many would rather choose salmon as the great alternative.

Tilapia Taste and Texture

Tilapia has a very mild taste following with a slightly sweet undertone, compared to other kinds of fish, lacking the prominent “fishy” taste. The way the fish had been raised plays an important role in its overall taste, meaning that the taste of every fish can vary depending on where it had resided for most of its lifetime. The lack of potent flavors in this fish is what makes it a popular choice, making it the perfect candidate for various cooking methods involving interesting and flavourful spices and seasonings.

Tilapia has a pinkish-white hue, transforming to a whiter shade once it has been dry cooked till it’s tender and breaks apart effortlessly.

Salmon Taste and Texture

In comparison, salmon is a milder, fragrant, oily flavored, and textured fish, which is why it’s such a popular fish to consume. Naturally, salmon has multiple breeds, each adopting its distinctive flavors, which you may notice when consuming salmon. For instance, King salmon may provide you with a rich flavor profile since it has more fat, while keta salmon carries a more mild, delicate taste. This is why many tend to consume more salmon than other types of fish.

Salmon shouldn’t carry a distinctive and unpleasant fishy smell, as this will indicate that the fish is far from fresh. It’s better to give the fish a little sniff before purchasing. The different breeds of salmon play an important role in their varying colors, ranging from pale white to a very dark red.

Salmon is a darker shade when it’s fresh but once cooked, it transforms to an opaque or lighter color. You’ll achieve a firm, flaky textured salmon, provided that it has been cooked for the appropriate amount of time (6 to 8 minutes)

Salmon Vs Tilapia: Main Differences And Which Is Better?

Tilapia vs Salmon: Raw Nutrient Comparison

Take a look at the table below outlining the basic nutrient comparisons between 4 ounces of both raw salmon and tilapia.

NutrientSalmon RawTilapia Raw
Fat7.2 g1.9 g
Protein23 g23 g
Omega-31.95 g0.20 g
B-60.9 mg0.1 mg
B-123.6 mcg1.7 mcg
Thiamin0.20 mg0.04 mg
Riboflavin0.4 mg0.07 mg
B51.8 mg0.5 mg
Iron0.9 mg0.6 mg
Niacin8.9 mg4.4 mg
Folate28.3 mcg27.2 mcg
Potassium555 mg342 mg
Magnesium32 mg30 mg
Phosphorus226 mg192 mg
Calcium13.6 mg11.3 mg
Zinc0.7 mg0.3 mg
Selenium41.4 mg47.4 mg

From this table, we can infer which of the two fish contains the basic nutrients, determining which of the two would be considered the healthiest fish.

Salmon is healthier than tilapia due to its higher omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals. Salmon contains a considerable amount of beneficial nutrients, including vitamins B6, 12, and 5, thiamin, iron, zinc, and more, compared to tilapia. Furthermore, tilapia contains a good amount of vitamins and minerals; however, it doesn’t come close to the brilliant nutritional value salmon provides in any way.

Fish with higher fat content is recommended for eating since the omega-3 fatty acids have many nutritional benefits, which is what separates salmon from tilapia. When choosing what type of fish to eat and which would be a healthier choice to go, many would recommend eating salmon over tilapia.

Tilapia vs Salmon Health Benefits

Tilapia and salmon happen to provide many health benefits, as they are both incredible sources of protein, minerals, vitamins, and fats. Here is a breakdown of some benefits of each fish:


  • The omega-3 fatty acids in this fish aid heart, vision, and joint strength
  • Reducing health risks
  • It’s a good substitute for other varieties of meat, such as pork, red meat, and chicken, due to its low fat and higher protein content.


  • High levels of B vitamins allow for a healthy balance internally
  • Selenium in salmon ensures that the thyroid functions effectively
  • High omega-3 fats lower the chances of joint inflammation and cholesterol
  • Both vitamin A and omega-3 can improve your eyesight
Salmon Vs Tilapia: Main Differences And Which Is Better?

Salmon vs Tilapia: Main Differences

Looking at the main distinctions between both fish, you’ll find that salmon is both a freshwater and saltwater fish while tilapia are mostly freshwater fish. Typically, tilapia can grow up to 14 inches and weighs around 6 pounds, while the larger fish – salmon – can grow to 30 inches and weigh 8 to 12 pounds. Additionally, King salmon happens to be the largest type of salmon and can grow up to 58 inches. Tilapia can be found in streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes, while salmon commonly inhibit the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Salmon is a popular healthy fish and is often eaten by many following a keto diet or simply eating healthy foods. Salmon are typically born in freshwater streams or rivers, then migrate to the Pacific Ocean, though they often come back to the rivers during breeding seasons.

Tilapia are freshwater fish and mainly reside in entire lakes, streams, and ponds. They increase in size at a rapid rate and are typically farmed in parts of Asia. The three main species of tilapia include the Nile, Blue tilapia, and Mozambique, which happen to expand the largest in length.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Eat Tilapia

Before planning a nice evening meal of cooked tilapia, there are several reasons why tilapia can be considered a risky fish to consume. If you’re looking to accumulate some healthful benefits in your diet, here’s what you need to know.

  • It’s a Farmed Fish
  • May Harm the Environment
  • Have Undergone Sex-Change
  • Fed Animal Feces

It’s a Farmed Fish

Farmed fish isn’t considered a healthy type of fish to consume. These fish are pushed into cramped pens, with a huge amount of fish residing in a single location, without any additional room to move around, let alone an inch. Furthermore, there is a potential risk of polluted water, meaning that each fish will contract the fish disease, which will remain inside them even when they are caught and sold.

Farmed tilapia can obtain ten times more toxins than wild-caught tilapia. The solution to remaining healthy while incorporating fish into your diet is to stick to wild-caught fish as opposed to farmed fish.

May Harm the Environment

Wild tilapia are relatively safe to consume, but raising them on farms can risk the safety of entire lakes, causing death to other creatures of the water. The unethical tilapia farming practices in poorer countries are what makes the idea of consuming farm-raised salmon very questionable and unsafe for human consumption.

Have Undergone Sex-Change

As appalling as that sounds, tilapia happen to undergo artificial sex-altering procedures after being fed methyltestosterone during earlier parts of their lifetime. This is done to make tilapia heftier, larger, and develop quicker in time for selling. Though some experts suggest that hormones used for tilapia are pretty harmless, there is enough evidence to suggest the toxicity of these hormones, which cause a lifetime impact on the human liver when consumed.

Fed Animal Feces

In certain parts of Asia, where tilapia are mostly farm raised and exported to other countries, fish are fed a variety of animal feces. This is common amongst poorer regions in hopes of cutting costs. While tilapia is capable of detoxifying the feces, there are other potential consequences involved. Naturally, these feces will create harmful bacteria and parasites that will pass from the flesh of the fish to the human when consumed.

Salmon Vs Tilapia: Main Differences And Which Is Better?

Tilapia vs Salmon Mercury Levels

Mercury poisoning is a rising concern amongst many fish consumers. It isn’t uncommon for fish to contain varying levels of mercury, though the main point of concern regards the overall safety of each fish and whether the mercury levels are significantly higher than others, therefore deeming them completely unsafe for consumption. This is especially unsafe for pregnant women or young infants.

Tilapia and salmon have similar and healthy mercury levels; recommended to eat fish like these no more than 2 to 3 times a week, with the appropriate portion sizes.

Tilapia vs Salmon Risks

It’s true that both tilapia and salmon are regarded as healthy fish options, but there are some factors to look out for before planning to eat these fish.


Farm-raised tilapia can obtain a high number of toxins called dioxins, especially if they’re bred within a fish farm. Most well-kept fish farms have higher standards in terms of cleanliness, so they wouldn’t be providing the dirtiest fish.

Since tilapia contains higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids compared to salmon, consuming them in high quantities can lead to deterioration in health. Additionally, omega-6 fatty acids are present in many other varieties of food, with tilapia being considered one of the healthiest sources of this type of fatty acid.


Salmon contains a high content of beneficial fatty oils, which can lead to the opposite effect if consumed in large quantities. Another risk of eating salmon is consuming pollutants, which occurs when your fish has resided in polluted water, with filth seeping into their flesh, deeming the skin and fat of the fish unsafe to consume; this is especially common in farm-raised salmon.

This is why it’s best to opt for wild-caught salmon in place of farm-raised salmon to avoid consuming fish with pollutants, rendering your meals healthier, safer, and your body happier.

Tilapia vs Salmon Price Comparison

Tilapia is a popular fish amongst many consumers in the US, this is because it is much cheaper in comparison to other types of seafood like salmon. Moreover, salmon are strenuous to catch and take longer to mature enough to be caught and sold, whereas tilapia are very low maintenance and pretty easy to catch.

Salmon caught from the ocean will cost more than farm-raised salmon. Before purchasing your fish, always check the label so that you know whether your fish were wild caught or farm raised.

So when trying to figure out which of the two fish is more expensive, we can confidently claim that salmon is more expensive than tilapia. The cost of the fish will vary depending on whether it was farm raised or wild-caught, whether it is frozen or fresh salmon.

Here is the average cost of both salmon and tilapia:

  • Fresh, farm-raised tilapia fillet – $6.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm-raised Atlantic salmon – $9.99 per pound

Bottom Line

Despite certain similar nutritional benefits in both salmon and tilapia, salmon is definitely healthier and more beneficial to consume as opposed to tilapia, which can potentially carry harmful substances that can cause long-term problems when cooked and eaten.


Is Tilapia a Good Alternative to Salmon?

Tilapia has fewer calories compared to salmon or other fish, its also a source of lean protein becoming the perfect addition to a healthy, balanced diet. Additionally, tilapia is high in potassium, contains iron and is naturally gluten free.

What Has More Calories Salmon or Tilapia?

Tilapia is a better option compared to salmon especially for those who are trying to lose weight. It is lower in calories and a little higher in protein, which increases your fullness since protein takes longer to digest.

Is Salmon or Tilapia More Expensive?

Tilapia is a popular fish compared to salmon due to its cheaper price tags. The reason for this is that this fish is a lot simpler to raise. Tilapia mature fairly quickly, thriving on a plant-based diet which means that farming and feeding them is pretty inexpensive.

Why Should You Not Eat Tilapia?

Tilapia contains less omega-3 compared to other fish, with its omega-6 levels being significantly higher than other fish, leading to inflammation in the body.