Tilapia vs Catfish? Which One is Best and 3 Reasons Why!

Sick of eating the same kind of fish again and again? Looking for an alternative to catfish?

Want to find out the difference between Tilapia and Catfish?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then keep reading!

We are going to learn everything about Tilapia vs catfish, and which of the two is better.

Tilapia vs Catfish

We are going to examine the difference between Tilapia and Catfish by examining some of their different characteristics. And you would not be wrong if you guessed that we would start with their tastes.

  • Nutritional Value:

The table below shows the nutritional values for both Tilapia and catfish:

For better comparison, we have taken 200 g pieces of each fish.

Both of them have a real difference in weight but are near or around 200 gms. Tilapia has a couple of fewer calories for 200 gms while Catfish has more. See the table below:

Fiber0 g1g
Monounsaturated Fat1g5g
Polyunsaturated Fat4g3g
Saturated Fat2g3g
Vitamin A01%
Vitamin C00
Vitamin E70
Vitamin K40
Vitamin B19%6%
Vitamin B212%11%
Vitamin B368%17%
Vitamin B520%13%
Vitamin B631%15%
Vitamin B12165%83%
Comparison of the nutrient values of Tilapia and Catfish

Nutritional Overview -Tilapia vs Catfish

Tilapia is a protein-dense fish, with over 40 gms of protein in a 200 calorie serving. Besides being high in proteins, it has no amounts of carbohydrates. It is also a rich source of vitamin B3 and B12. While minerals like selenium and phosphorus can also be found in abundance.

Catfish is a balanced serving of fish, which has moderate amounts of each – proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It is a good source of daily minerals and has a moderate amount of each , especially phosphorus, selenium and Iron.

When compared, tilapia has a better nutritional profile in terms of high protein density and no carbs, which is ideal for Keto or low carb diets.

However, if you’re looking for a well-balanced meal, nothing beats catfish.

Catfish also has all the right vitamins and minerals, in moderation, which may not be present in Tilapia, such as – Vitamin A. Another thing Tilapia lacks are monounsaturated fats. Catfish has almost 5 times the amount of good fats present in it compared to Tilapia.

*All data has been retrieved through the official website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A website reserved for agricultural research services.

Catfish has almost 5 times the amount of good fats present in it compared to Tilapia.

You may also like: How to Fillet Catfish


Tilapia Fish:

Tilapia originates from the Nile region of Asia and Africa. However, with time they can be found in natural warm water habitats all over the globe.

This fish typically requires warm bodies of freshwater to thrive well. The ideal water temperature for them is between 76 to 84 degrees. And water bodies like lakes and streams help them grow the best.

However, in certain conditions, Tilapia are also known to survive under brackish water. Brackish water is where the two mix together – freshwater and saltwater.

They prefer to live in areas that are lined with vegetation or plantations of some sort, like weed plants alongside the Floridian canal.


Catfish has a vast habitat, which means it can grow well in most places, including those that aren’t as hospitable.

While the perfect thriving conditions for catfish include slow current, warm water bodies, with gravel or rock water beds, instead of mud.

These fish are found on the lower surfaces of water, during the day. While at night they can be seen moving around in the water at all lengths.

To thrive, this fish can also live under muddy water and brackish water. They are now also found in standing water, such as in reservoirs, lakes and ponds.

Both Catfish and Tilapia are known for their thriving skills, the former, catfish more so than Tilapia.

Not only this, Catfish and Tilapia are both known to be highly invasive species.

The catfish with its high reproduction skills along with diverse food preference, quickly marks its presence in any given habitat, making sure to suppress the presence of other fish species.

Likewise, Tilapia attacks the population and habitat of other aquatic organisms that thrive on plantations. What it does is, it increases in numbers almost immediately and devours down all the plantation and leaves none for other organisms.

fresh Catfish used for catfish pepper soup

Food intake

Tilapia fish:

Tilapia fish naturally feed on algae, aquatic plants, phytoplankton and vegetation, which make them a herbivore. Also since they only intake plantations, the risk of having toxins in the flesh is reduced severely.

Did you know Tilapia are purposefully farmed in canals that take water to and from large water bodies to counties? This is to stop the overgrowth of any algae or vegetation that might block the water canals.


Catfish belong to the category of omnivores, which means they eat both aquatic plants as well as insects, small fishes and sometimes even birds. If this is news to you, go check out the National Geographic’s documentation, and you’ll be surprised to see and know what else these catfish love to eat.

Catfish prefer to search for food in the deep areas of the water bodies, however that’s not necessarily the only place they look for when finding food. They prefer to hunt food at night but may also do it during the day.

Smaller fish prefer to eat tiny aquatic insects, while the growing species eat everything from small fishes, snails, algae, frogs and pigeons.

According to researcher and documentation – Santoul Catfish are one of the few aquatic creatures who have a flair for trying novel foods.

This goes to show that catfish are the most thriving aquatic creatures and can and will adapt to any food and circumstance, in order to live.

tilapia vs catfish banner

Taste Profile


Tilapia fish is known for its lean, mildly flaky meat, which has a sweet and almost mild flavour that goes well with all kinds of ingredients.

The cooking style that works best with tilapia are – Bake, Steam, Broil and Saute.

Also, Tilapia is a fish that gets affected by its environment the most. This means, the better the environment the better it tastes. Often at times, people complain about Tilapia tasting like mud.

If your Tilapia tastes like mud, chances are that it was bred in a rather shabby pond or was caught from the brackish water.


Like Tilapia, catfish also has a mild and sweet flavour. However, the texture of catfish is rather firm if compared to other white flesh fishes. It’s mildly flaky with a firm centre. It is dense but not dry. It has the right amount of moisture and absorbs all kinds of flavours well. Farmed varieties of catfish are always a better purchase when talking about the quality and taste of fish.

So which one should you choose – Tilapia or Catfish?

Well, the truth is both the fishes have their pros and cons. But while there are plenty of differences between Catfish and Tilapia, there are plenty of similarities too.

Both of them have good amounts of nutrients, even if they have varying amounts of vitamins, proteins, and fats.

They both taste almost similar while differ slightly in texture.

Both the fish are thriving and adaptive creatures, with low amounts of toxins and mercury levels.

Looking for a more definitive answer to – Which Is Better

Tilapia vs Catfish?

Then the answer is – It totally depends on what nutrients you are looking to add to your diet.

While tilapia is slightly healthier than catfish, but if you choose to use good quality catfish from farms like Kabaia, that uses state of the art technology to breed healthy nutritious fish that are then kept safe and free of microbial growth until they are delivered to your doorstep, then there is really nothing to worry about.

The only real difference is that Tilapia is a lean fish, with high protein, zero carb and low saturated fats. It is perfect if you are looking for a weight loss meal, that is low in fats and carbohydrates.

Although low in fat, it still has good amounts of omega 3 fats, which are heart-healthy fats great for the health of the mind and body.

On the other hand, catfish has moderate amounts of all nutrients, which means it is perfect if you are looking to maintain weight or have a balanced diet that includes all sorts of nutrients.

Like Tilapia, catfish is also rich in omega-3 fats, in fact slightly more than Tilapia.

So all in all, both Tilapia and Catfish can be used for your weekly meals. We suggest serving at least two servings of fish a week, to attain the right amounts of nutrients, for a healthy mind and body.

We love to hear from you. In comparing Tilapia vs catfish, which do you prefer and why?

Share your views with us on the comments box below.

Related post: Top Health Benefits of Catfish

Festus Otasowie
Festus Otasowie
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  1. Great research and response, Thanks. I worry more about being careful with Swai; Vietnamese fish markets/lack of regulation and all.

    • Thanks, John for your feedback.
      While people may express concerns about the Vietnamese fish market’s lack of regulations, we can however also count on regulations at the destination countries to which they are exported.
      So except if you are consuming the product in Vietnam or other countries which do not enforce quality control standards, I would say there is not too much to worry about consuming swai say in the US or Canada.

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