I have been cooking fish for over 40 years. Catfish is a fish I can not stand. My family buys and loves tilapia and swai and no matter how I cook, grill, bake, fry, season, marinate, flour it, breadcrumb it, and use panko and even try to make fish fingers, it still tastes like catfish. I bought farm raised and wild USA and outside. Lemon, soy, different vinegars and spices from all over the world and marinated overnite and even fried like fish and chips with a beer batter. The only thing I did not do is put bar-b-que sauce on it and ketchup. My family and friends love it whatever I do to it but it still tastes like catfish to me. I love fish but this is really terrible and no matter how it is brought to me, I recognize these two fishes by raw filet sight and it never has a fishy smell. Are these two fishes in the catfish family?

  • 2
    I agree completely: tilapia is not delicious.
    – goblinbox
    May 26, 2015 at 14:39
  • Interesting. Tilapia and catfish have very different flavors to me. Catfish tastes--strong in a way that's hard to describe, and can definitely be off-putting to some. Tilapia is mild and doesn't have any real character. So I'm surprised that they taste the same to you. Interesting... One possibility is just don't eat tilapia?
    – bob
    Apr 20, 2022 at 13:25

2 Answers 2


Swai and catfish are biologically related, but Tilapia is a Cyclid and as such quite far removed. I think the biological relation is not all that critical to their similar taste which you dislike though.

The taste of fish relies on a few factors such as:

  • Their living environment (Fresh, brackish, salt water)
  • The type of soil on the water bottom (silt, sand)
  • The diet of the species (other fish, water based plankton or bottom dwellers)

Catfish is a bottom feeding freshwater species and likely to have a relatively similar taste to other species that share their living environment and diet. As such I'm willing to bet you also don't like the taste of Carp very much.

Perhaps the solution lies in finding a fish that has a similar texture to Catfish but is a sea dwelling fish eater. That way you might get the appreciation from your eaters while being able to enjoy your own dishes more.

  • 2
    A lot of tilapia and catfish are farm-raised (as are carp) ... which mean that #3 are more likely to be similar. If tank grown, possibly #1 as well (although salinity and temperature are different between species).
    – Joe
    May 24, 2015 at 13:43
  • Is lobster a bottom feeder because I adore lobster? No catfish taste there.
    – user33210
    May 24, 2015 at 18:12
  • 2
    A lobster is not a fish :) May 24, 2015 at 20:55
  • What is lobster then, and also crab and shrimp? We and I enjoy those all the time, frozen true, but I thought they were all fish? Happy Face but now Really Confused Mr. Richard ten Brink
    – user33210
    May 25, 2015 at 7:35
  • 3
    They are crustacaens. A very different type of animal and as such I can't confidently say that the environment + diet = flavor equation works the same way for them. May 25, 2015 at 12:03

My dad really hates catfish, especially after seeing them cannibalize off each other and eat feces while living in the septic tank when he was a kid.

But he loves tilapia.

I think that coming from other peoples' reviews about catfish, and how tilapia tastes, your problem might be the tilapia's mild flavor.

Tilapia is less watery than catfish. I personally eaten tilapia before and seen how it's prepared.

First of all you need to prepare it correctly. Defrost it in warm water if it's frozen, for a couple of hours. It might be better to purchase fish whole, because you have to make sure to clean out the underbelly thoroughly, without bursting any of the guts. Every time, use a lot of vinegar, just to make sure that it's clean.

Sprinkling some salt on the tilapia would make the fish have a nice, juicy texture. This would be nice when you pan-fry it, as you get a nice crispy skin with a juicy, meaty texture for a fish.

If there's some off-taste after you tried all of that, then you got bad fish.

  • "cannibalize off each other and eat feces". It's no coincidence that catfish (AKA basa, panga, and swai) and shellfish are considered unclean by some religions. Jun 10, 2022 at 2:36

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