Comparing a tilapia vs haddock can be a strenuous task, even for experienced seafarers. But whether you’re fishing recreationally or commercially, these two popular catches will always stand out in the sea of similarities!
Tilapias, belonging to the Perciformes order known as “perch-like” fish, are freshwater species. In addition, they fall under the Cichlidae family and can be referred to by their more popular name of “tilapia”.
Haddocks, scientifically known as Melanogrammus aeglefinus and belonging to the Gadidae family of true codfish, are saltwater fish from the Melanogrammus genus.
Areas of Difference
Tilapias and haddocks may not have much in synchrony. Yet their contrasts are remarkable, ranging from looks to size, diet, geography of living areas, manner of breeding and length of life. Below, we break down these different categories.
Tilapia vs Haddock: Appearance
Distinguishing tilapias and haddocks is effortless with their distinctive physical characteristics. Tilapias, for instance, exhibit a deep-bodied sunfish or crappie shape with an exceptionally spiny dorsal fin.
With its three dorsal fins, two anal fins and white belly as identifying features, the haddock can be easily recognized by the distinctive “Devil’s thumbprint”. This is a dark blotch located above their pectoral fin.
Haddock vs Tilapia: Size
A stark contrast in their size can be seen between the two fish. The tilapia is a smaller species of fish that grows to around 24 inches long and has the capacity to reach up to 11 pounds in weight. Whereas haddock are much larger with lengths ranging from 12-36 inches (1-3 feet) and weighing 2-40 pounds (0.9 – 18kg).
Tilapia vs. Haddock: Diet
Tilapias are omnivorous creatures that feed on almost anything within their aquatic environment. From tiny algae, aquatic plants and invertebrates to larger larval fish, these filter-feeding animals utilize a highly specialized method of trapping plankton in mucus secreted from their gills before consuming the nutrient-rich slime.
The voracious appetite of tilapia also extends to decaying organic matter providing an essential role in keeping healthy water bodies clean and balanced.
Carnivorous haddocks target a variety of prey, including mollusks, crustaceans, sea urchins, worms and fish eggs that reside on the ocean floor. In addition to these small creatures, adult haddocks also feast on herring for larger meals.
Haddock vs Tilapia: Distribution
With its rapidly growing popularity, the tilapia fish has spread from it’s traditional habitat of Africa and the Middle East to many other tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions. This freshwater species can now be found in all corners of the globe!
In contrast, the haddock is a bountiful saltwater fish that swims in both sides of the North Atlantic. It can be found from Newfoundland to Cape May and New Jersey. While being especially plentiful in Maine’s Gulf and on Georges Bank.
In their natural habitats, tilapias are vulnerable to being hunted by largemouth bass. Similarly, haddocks can be targeted as prey by huge predators like grey seals, spiny dogfish, skates and various kinds of groundfish such as pollock and cod.
Like haddock vs pollock, tilapias and haddocks breed in different ways. The life cycle of the tilapia begins when an adult male builds a nest to safeguard until the female is ready to spawn. This relentless protection by the male requires him to vigilantly guard his territory within which he has created this home for the eggs and fry they will produce together.
As soon as the male has fertilized the eggs, it is time for the female to take over. She collects them and carefully safeguards them in her mouth until they are ready to hatch. This usually happens once all of their yolk has been absorbed.
On average, a single female tilapia can produce anywhere between 200-1000 eggs each spawn! Once that process is complete, she will depart from her nest with a sense of accomplishment knowing she’s provided enough food for plenty more fishy mouths.
Reproduction for haddock is analogous to tilapia, only their female digs a hole near the seabed for fertilization by males. What stands out in this species is its large population size. Females can manufacture an estimate of 850,000 eggs per year on average. This contrasts significantly with larger female haddocks capable of producing up to 3 million!
Both haddock and tilapia are delectable, white-fleshed fish with a subtle sweet taste. You can easily incorporate them into various dishes. They will absorb the flavors of whatever you create without overpowering their own flavor.
Try adding these fillets to your favorite vegetable curry or marinating in fruit juice, garlic, and herbs before grilling or baking! While both have comparable nutritional values, there are also some differences between them that make one option more suitable than another for certain recipes.
Tilapia vs. Haddock: Lifespan
Tilapias and haddocks share a similar lifespan, both being fast-growing fish that reach maturity at an early age. Surprisingly, within six months of entering the water, tilapias can grow to one pound in size and live up to ten remarkable years!
With a lifespan of 10 years, the average haddock lives longer than most other fish. However, fishermen and scientists typically catch 3-7 year old haddocks as these are at their sexual maturity stage between 1-4 years old.