Catfish Vs Tilapia (With Nutrient Values)

When it comes to catfish and tilapia, everyone has their preferences. Some like their fish baked, some like it fried, and some fix it other ways. One thing is for sure, catfish and tilapia taste great no matter how you cook ‘em.

Catfish Vs Tilapia

Catfish is a species of fish that can be found in many places around the world, such as North America, Africa, and Asia. Tilapia is primarily from Africa and the Middle East, however, both fish are easily farmed and are sold in most markets. For many, catfish is best fried while tilapia is better baked.  

Both fish have been called bottom feeders, which has always given them a negative connotation. Some types of catfish are bottom feeders while others are not. Tilapia has been called a bottom feeder but they technically only feed from the bottom when they have no other alternative.

If you’re getting your fish from the supermarket, then chances are it is farmed, and you do not have to worry about any “ill effects” from them being “bottom feeders.”

Some bottom-feeding fish have harmful chemicals that get trapped in the mud, so wild-caught catfish could have some mild levels of these chemicals. However, I’ve eaten my fair share of wild-caught catfish and have never become ill from it.

Check out the differences between Catfish and Carp

Is Catfish or Tilapia Better for You?

Both of these fish have some pros and cons when it comes to health. The good news is, that they are both healthy choices. Tilapia is delicious when baked or fried. I prefer catfish that is fried, however, baked catfish can be just as good. 

When looking for the healthiest choice it is better to bake the fish. Blackened catfish and tilapia are also a great choice. These fish species have a mild fish flavor, which is why they are so popular in supermarkets.

You can cook these two fish just about any way that someone might prefer, and both will come out perfect. Fish is always a healthier choice, and baked fish is always healthier than fried fish. 

Tilapia has fewer calories and more protein, so for some, this is the healthier choice of the two. 

Example of Tilapia

Catfish Vs Tilapia Farming

Both catfish and tilapia are farmed for larger markets. In fact, just about all the catfish and tilapia you see in grocery stores and supermarkets are going to be farmed fish. Farmed fish generally have a more mild flavor than wild-caught fish. Some might think that wild-caught catfish is better than farmed, however, that would be a preference.

With catfish, I suggest looking for U.S. farmed catfish. American farm-raised catfish meet high standards for quality and control. The same can be said for tilapia, getting U.S. farmed tilapia will give you a better experience with quality. 

Catfish and Tilapia Comparisons

We can see that catfish and tilapia have a lot of things in common, so let’s take a closer look at some comparisons and differences between the two. 

Catfish can be cooked in a number of ways, but most prefer it fried. Baked catfish can be a great alternative, to fried.Tilapia is good when baked, however, it also can be prepared fried and is a little more versatile than catfish.
Catfish has a moist and flakey texture, which makes it easy to prepare without it drying up.Tilapia has a flakey texture but is less moist, and can dry out a little if you cook it too long.
Catfish can be wild-caught or store-bought. This is great for those who love to fish. Catfish never disappoints at a fish fry.Tilapia is mostly farm-raised. This makes it easy to get, as it is available in most supermarkets.
Catfish is full of good calories, but it also has some fiber and other nutrients that are important to a diet.Tilapia has more protein than catfish but does not have some of the other nutrients that catfish provide.

You can get tilapia and catfish at just about any grocery store or fish market. Being farm-raised fish, they are fresh, readily available, and easy to prepare.

Tilapia Vs Catfish Taste

So now for the important part, taste! Fish has a, well, fishy flavor. However, with catfish and tilapia, you get less of that fishy taste since most of what you buy is farm-raised. If you are catching your own catfish, then you may expect it to have a little more of a fishy taste, than if you bought farmed catfish.

Because both of these fish have a mild fish flavor, you can add some ingredients to help spice them up a little. Blackened catfish and tilapia are a favorite of mine, with lots of spices and a good sear.

In my opinion, nothing can compare to fried catfish. When it comes to flavor the catfish has a juicy but flakey texture that works nicely with the batter. Tilapia is good fried but the pieces are smaller and usually a little drier.

Example of Catfish.

Catfish and Tilapia Nutritional Cart

Now that you know how they taste, what textures they have, and which ways to prepare them, let’s look at some of the nutrients in our catfish and tilapia nutritional chart. 

Nutrients CatfishTilapia
Fat2.9 g1.7
Protein 18 g20.08
Sodium50 mg52 mg
Vitamin B12121% of DV31% of DV

*Based on 100 grams of fresh catfish and fresh tilapia. 

Tilapia has fewer calories and more protein than catfish, making it a slightly healthier choice. However, if you are counting calories those few calories could make all the difference. Source.

Tilapia Vs Catfish Price

When it comes to price, tilapia has catfish beat. You get more protein and fewer calories for your buck with tilapia. However, some people still prefer the taste of catfish over tilapia.


Both fish are cheaper than some other types of fish on the market. That’s what makes both of these fish such a delicious and cost-effective choice for a meal. You get fine dining on a budget.

Catfish Vs Tilapia Cooking

We have mentioned a couple of ways to prepare catfish and tilapia, let’s look at a few more!

Ways to cook catfish and tilapia:

  • Baked
  • Fried
  • Blackened
  • Fish tacos
  • Pan seared
  • Grilled 
  • Smoked
  • Braised
  • Stir-fried

You can cook them just about any way that YOU like. I’ve had the luck to catch many catfish in my day, and they always provide excellent meals. The same goes for tilapia, when you are on a budget, tilapia can help get you through some hard times.

See our article for Tilapia vs Salmon

See our article for Halibut vs Flounder

Related Questions

Do tilapia and catfish have bones?

Yes, both tilapia and catfish have bones. You should keep that in mind when preparing your fish. They can both be cooked with bone-in, or as fillets.

Is catfish a good fish to eat?

Yes, catfish has a tender and moist fillet that is desirable when fried, baked, or blackened. There are many ways to cook catfish that make them a delicious meal.