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17 Fish Similar to Tilapia

Fresh tilapia fish on black wooden background.

You might be wondering if there are other types of fish that are similar to tilapia. Well, wonder no more! We have put together a list of the top 17 fish that are similar to tilapia.

Check it out!

What is tilapia, and where does it come from?

Tilapia is a cichlid fish that is native to Africa. It is commonly found in freshwater lakes and rivers. Tilapia is a popular choice for aquaculture and is also one of the most widely consumed fish in the world.

What do tilapia look like, and how big do they get?

Tilapia can vary in appearance, but most are pale-colored with dark spots on their body. They can grow to be about two feet long and weigh up to four pounds.

What do tilapia eat?

Tilapia are omnivorous and will eat a variety of plant and animal matter. In the wild, they primarily eat algae, but in captivity, they are often fed pellets or flakes. Now that you know a little bit about tilapia let’s take a look at some fish that are similar to tilapia.

1. Catfish

River catfish with its beak open.

Catfish are a type of freshwater fish that are native to Africa and Asia. There are over 3,000 different species of catfish, making them one of the most diverse groups of fish in the world.

  • How big it gets: Some species of catfish can grow to be over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Catfish are bottom-feeders, which means they eat plants and animals that live on or near the bottom of rivers, lakes, and ponds.
  • How it tastes: The taste of catfish depends on the species and where it’s from. Some catfish have a mild flavor, while others can be quite fishy.
  • How long it lives: Most catfish live for 5 to 10 years, but some species can live for 20 years or more.
  • Habitat: Catfish live in freshwater habitats all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Catfish are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they hide in caves or under rocks.
  • How big it gets: Some species of catfish can grow to be over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Catfish are bottom-feeders, which means they eat plants and animals that live on or near the bottom of rivers, lakes, and ponds.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both catfish and tilapia are freshwater fish that are native to Africa. They are both bottom-feeders and have a mild flavor.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Catfish are nocturnal while tilapia are diurnal. Catfish can grow to be much larger than tilapia.
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2. Bass

Bass fishing with bass.

A bass is a type of fish that is very similar to tilapia. Bass can be found in both fresh and saltwater, and there are many different species to choose from. Some of the most popular types of bass include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and striped bass.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, bass can grow to be anywhere from 30 cm (12 inches) to over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Bass are predators and will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.
  • How it tastes: The taste of bass varies depending on the species and where it’s from. Some bass have a mild flavor, while others can be quite fishy.
  • Habitat: Bass live in freshwater and saltwater habitats all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Bass are often aggressive and will attack other fish that enter their territory.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both bass and tilapia are a popular choice for seafood lovers. They are both mild-tasting and relatively low in fat.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Depending on the species, bass can be much larger than tilapia. Bass are also aggressive while tilapia are not.

3. Carp

European carp with big mouth.

Carp are a type of freshwater fish that is native to Europe and Asia. There are several different species of carp, including common carp, mirror carp, and koi carp. Carp are a popular choice for aquaculture and are often used as baitfish.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, carp can grow to be anywhere from 30 cm (12 inches) to over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Carp are omnivorous and will eat both plants and animals.
  • How it tastes: The taste of carp varies depending on the species and where it’s from. Some carp have a mild flavor, while others can be quite fishy.
  • Habitat: Carp live in freshwater habitats all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Carp are often seen as a nuisance because of their tendency to uproot plants and stir up sediment.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both carp and tilapia are popular choice for aquaculture. They are both omnivorous and have a mild flavor.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Carp can be much larger than tilapia. Carp are also often seen as a nuisance while tilapia are not.
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4. Cod

Photo of big atlantic cod with a happy fisherman.

Cod is a type of fish that is very similar to tilapia. They are both mild-tasting and relatively low in fat, making them a popular choice for seafood lovers. Cod can be found in both fresh and saltwater, and there are many different species to choose from.

Some of the most popular types of cod include Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, and Greenland cod.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, cod can grow to be anywhere from 30 cm (12 inches) to over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Cod are predators and will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.
  • How it tastes: The taste of cod varies depending on the species and where it’s from. Some cod have a mild flavor, while others can be quite fishy.
  • Habitat: Cod live in all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Cod are often aggressive and will attack other fish that enter their territory.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both cod and tilapia are popular choice for seafood lovers. They are both mild-tasting and relatively low in fat.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Depending on the species, cod can be much larger than tilapia. Cod are also aggressive while tilapia are not.

5. Flatfish

A flatfish on a seafloor.

Flatfish is a type of fish that is very similar to tilapia. They are both mild-tasting and relatively low in fat, making them a popular choice for seafood lovers. Flatfish can be found in both fresh and saltwater, and there are many different species to choose from.

Some of the most popular types of flatfish include flounder, sole, and halibut.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, flatfish can grow to be anywhere from 30 cm (12 inches) to over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Flatfish are predators and will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.
  • How it tastes: The taste of flatfish varies depending on the species and where it’s from. Some flatfish have a mild flavor while others can be quite fishy.
  • Habitat: Flatfish live in freshwater and saltwater habitats all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Flatfish are often aggressive and will attack other fish that enter their territory.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both flatfish and tilapia are popular choice for seafood lovers. They are both mild-tasting and relatively low in fat.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Depending on the species, flatfish can be much larger than tilapia. Flatfish are also aggressive while tilapia are not.
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6. Grouper

The underwater grouper.

Grouper is a saltwater fish that is found in coastal waters throughout the world. It can reach a weight of up to 200 pounds and a length of almost 6 feet. Grouper are predators and feed on smaller fish, crustaceans, and squid.

  • How big it gets: Grouper can grow to be up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) long and can weigh up to 200 pounds!
  • What it eats: Grouper are predators and will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and squid.
  • How it tastes: The taste of grouper varies depending on the species and where it’s from. Some grouper have a mild flavor while others can be quite fishy.
  • Habitat: Grouper live in saltwater habitats all over the world.
  • Behaviors: Grouper are mostly solitary fish, but some species do form schools.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both grouper and tilapia are popular food fish that are farmed in many parts of the world. They have a mild flavor and firm, white flesh.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Grouper are much larger than tilapia and have a more distinct flavor.

7. Haddock

Whole haddock fish isolated on a white background.

Haddock is a saltwater fish in the cod family. It is a popular food fish and is consumed worldwide. Haddock has white flesh and a mild flavor.

It is often cooked by baking, frying, or poaching.

  • How big it gets: Haddock can grow to be up to 3 feet long.
  • What it eats: Haddock feeds on plankton, small fish, and crustaceans.
  • How long it lives: Haddock can live up to 20 years.
  • Habitat: Haddock are found in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • Behaviors: Haddock are a schooling fish and often travel in large groups.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both haddock and tilapia are popular food fish that are farmed in many parts of the world. They have a mild flavor and firm, white flesh.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Haddock are much larger than tilapia and have a more distinct flavor.
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8. Herring

Fresh herring fish on gray wooden background.

Herring is a type of fish that is found in both fresh and saltwater. There are many different species of herring, and they are all members of the Clupeidae family. Herring are small fish with a torpedo-shaped body.

They are an important food source for humans and animals all over the world.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, herring can grow to be anywhere from 15 cm (6 inches) to over 1 meter (3 feet) long!
  • What it eats: Herring are predators and will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and squid.
  • How long it lives: 2-3 years
  • Habitat: Inland freshwater lakes
  • Behaviors: Herring are schooling fish and often travel in large groups.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both herring and tilapia are popular food fish that are farmed in many parts of the world. They have a mild flavor and firm, white flesh.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Herring are much smaller than tilapia and have a more distinct flavor.

9. Mackerel

Mackerel in thailand.

Mackerel is a type of fish that is found in both fresh and saltwater. There are many different species of mackerel, and they are all members of the Scombridae family. Mackerel are small to medium-sized fish with a torpedo-shaped body.

They are an important food source for humans and animals all over the world.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, mackerel can grow to be quite large. The king mackerel, for example, can get as big as 6 feet (1.8 m) long and weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg).
  • How long it lives: Mackerel typically only live for around five years, although some species have been known to live for up to 20.
  • Habitat: Mackerel are found in both temperate and tropical waters all over the world. They tend to prefer coastal areas and can be found in both the open ocean and near coral reefs.
  • Behaviors: Mackerel are fast-swimming predators that hunt in schools. They typically eat smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans.
  • What it eats: Mackerel are carnivores and feed on other small fish, squid, and crustaceans.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Like tilapia, mackerel are found in both fresh and salt water. They are also similar in size and shape. Mackerel are also a popular food fish.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Mackerel are typically found in colder waters than tilapia.
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10. Salmon

Salmon fish in front of white background.

Salmon is a type of fish that is found in both fresh and salt water. There are many different species of salmon, and they all belong to the Salmonidae family. Salmon are medium to large-sized fish with an elongated body.

They are an important food source for humans and animals all over the world.

  • How big it gets: Depending on the species, salmon can grow to be quite large. The Chinook salmon, for example, can get up to 16 feet (4.9 m) long and weigh up to 125 pounds (56 kg).
  • How long it lives: Salmon typically only live for around 5 years, although some species have been known to live for up to 8.
  • Habitat: Salmon can be found in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. They typically live in freshwater for part of their life and then migrate to saltwater to spawn.
  • Behaviors: Salmon are known for their long migration patterns. Some salmon species can travel over 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in a single year. Salmon are also born in freshwater, but they spend most of their lives in saltwater.

Salmon have a very keen sense of smell and can even detect the presence of other salmon from up to 2 miles (3.2 km) away.

  • What it eats: Salmon are predators and typically eat smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Salmon and tilapia are both popular food fish that are farmed commercially. They are similar in size, with salmon typically being slightly larger. Both fish have an elongated body shape and live in freshwater for part of their life before migrating to saltwater to spawn.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Salmon are typically darker in color, while tilapia are usually white or pale pink. Salmon have a much shorter life span than tilapia, living for only five years on average. Salmon are found in colder waters than tilapia and migrate much longer distances.
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11. Mahi Mahi

A mahi-mahi or dolphin fish jumping with fish hook in mouth.

Mahi-mahi is a type of fish that is found in both fresh and salt water. There are many different species of mahi-mahi, and they all belong to the Coryphaenidae family. Mahi mahi are medium-sized fish with a torpedo-shaped body. They are an important food source for humans and animals all over the world.

  • How big it gets: Up to 8 feet
  • What it eats: Smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans
  • Habitat: Temperate and tropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
  • Behaviors: Schools in open water; solitary or in pairs
  • How long it lives: 5-7 years
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both Mahi mahi and tilapia are similar in size, with Mahi mahi typically being slightly larger.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Tilapia are native to Africa while mahi-mahi are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

12. Sardines

A pair of sardines on a white background.

Sardines are a type of tiny, oily fish that is closely related to the herring. Like other fish in the herring family, sardines are found in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Sardines are a popular food fish due to their small size, mild flavor, and high nutrient content.

  • How big it gets: Around 11 inches
  • What it looks like: Greenish-blue back, silver sides, and a belly that is either white or pale pink.
  • What it eats: Sardines are omnivorous and feed on a variety of small organisms, including crustaceans, mollusks, and squid.
  • How long it lives: Around five years
  • Habitat: All over the world in both saltwater and freshwater environments.
  • Behaviors: schooling fish that travel in large groups.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both sardines and tilapia are oily fish that are found in freshwater environments.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Sardines are much smaller than tilapia, with a typical length of 11 inches. Sardines are also found all over the world, while tilapia are native to Africa.
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13. Snapper

Group of red snappers with sun in background.

Snapper is a common name used for a large number of fish species that belong to the genus Lutjanus. Some of these are schoolmaster snapper, mahogany snapper, yellowtail snapper, and lane snapper. They are all characterized by a slender body with a long nose.

  • How big it gets: The average size of a snapper is about 24 inches.
  • What it eats: Snappers are carnivores, and their diet consists mostly of smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans.
  • How long it lives: The lifespan of a snapper is about 20 years.
  • Habitat: Snappers are found in tropical and subtropical waters all around the world.
  • Behaviors: Snappers are generally shy fish that tend to stay close to the bottom of the ocean. They are known to be good swimmers and can sometimes be seen swimming in large schools.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Snappers are similar to tilapia in that they are both popular food fish with a mild flavor.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Snappers are generally larger than tilapia and have a more elongated body. They are also found in saltier waters and are not as commonly farmed.

14. Trout

Man holding rainbow trout before releasing it.

Trout is a type of freshwater fish that is closely related to salmon. There are many different species of trout, but they all have similarities in terms of appearance and diet. Trout are typically long and slim, with a speckled body and a forked tail.

  • How big it gets: Trout can grow to be quite large, depending on the species. The world record for the largest trout ever caught in a monstrous 41-pounder!
  • What it eats: Trout are opportunistic feeders, meaning they’ll eat whatever food is available to them. In the wild, this includes insects, small fish, and other aquatic creatures.
  • How long it lives: Trout typically have a lifespan of 5-7 years, although some species can live up to 10 years or more in captivity.
  • Habitat: Trout are found in cold, freshwater environments all over the world. They typically inhabit streams, rivers, and lakes at high altitudes.
  • Behaviors: Trout are mostly active during the day, although some species can be nocturnal. They are skilled swimmers and use their tails to propel themselves through the water.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Trout and tilapia are both freshwater fish that are popular in the aquarium trade. They are similar in size and shape, although trout tend to be more slender than tilapia.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Trout have a more varied diet than tilapia and will eat just about anything that they can fit in their mouths. They are also much better swimmers than tilapia and can live in colder water temperatures.
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15. Tuna

Fresh tuna on a white background.

Tuna is a type of fish that is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It can be eaten fresh or canned. Tuna is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • How big it gets: Up to six feet
  • What it eats: Small fish, crustaceans, and squid
  • How long it lives: Up to 40 years
  • Habitat: In the open ocean
  • Behaviors: Tuna are fast swimmers and can migrate long distances
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Tuna are similar to tilapia in that they are both popular food fish with a mild flavor.

Differences from Tilapia: Tuna are much larger than tilapia and have a more elongated body. They are also found in saltier waters and are not as commonly farmed.

16. Walleye

Walleye caught on minnow lure.

Walleye is a type of freshwater fish that is native to North America. It is a popular game fish and is often fished for sport. Walleye are characterized by their large eyes and golden-brown coloration.

  • How big it gets: Up to four feet
  • What it eats: Small fish, crustaceans, and insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: In freshwater lakes and rivers
  • Behaviors: Walleye are mostly active at night and are known for being good fighters when hooked.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Walleye are similar to tilapia in that they are both popular food fish with a mild flavor.
  • Differences from Tilapia: Walleye are generally smaller than tilapia and have a more elongated body. They are also found in saltier waters and are not as commonly farmed.

17. Whitefish

Whole whitefish cleaned and scaled and ready to cook.

Whitefish is a term used for several types of wild fish that have white flesh. Examples include: Alaska pollock, cod, haddock, hake, plaice, and sole. The term can also be used for farm-raised fish such as tilapia and catfish.

  • How big it gets: Up to 3 feet
  • How long it lives: Depends on the species, but most whitefish live between 6 and 12 years.
  • What it eats: Smaller fish, crustaceans, squid, and plankton.
  • Habitat: Varies depending on the species. Cod, for example, live in the Atlantic Ocean near Iceland and Greenland, while haddock prefer colder waters off the coast of New England.
  • Behaviors: Whitefish are schooling fish, which means they live in groups. They also tend to be migratory, moving to different areas of the ocean at different times of the year.
  • Similarities to Tilapia: Both tilapia and whitefish are farmed for food. They are also similar in terms of size, with most tilapia reaching about 3 feet in length.
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Differences from Tilapia: Whitefish have a reputation for being a healthier option than tilapia. They are lower in mercury and higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Whitefish are also less likely to be contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals.

Frequently asked questions

What are the different types of tilapia?

There are many different types of tilapia, but the three most common are Nile tilapia, blue tilapia, and Mozambique tilapia.

What is the difference between tilapia and other fish?

Tilapia is usually lower in mercury than other fish. It is also a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Some potential benefits of eating tilapia include lower cholesterol levels, increased weight loss, and improved blood sugar control.

How do tilapia reproduce? 

Tilapia reproduce by mouth-brooding. After mating, the female tilapia will keep the eggs in her mouth until they hatch.