Farmed vs. Wild Fish

Different types of seafood are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, that may help to boost your overall health. If you’re trying to add more healthy fish to your diet, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the array of options available at the fish counter. One question you might have is, “What’s the difference between farm-raised and wild fish?”

To help you decide whether to go with farmed or wild fish, the seafood experts at Caviar Bar, one of the restaurants in Resorts World Las Vegas, explain what you need to know.

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What defines farmed-raised fish?

Farmed or farm-raised fish are commercially bred and grown in controlled environments for the purpose of consumption. In other words, these fish are raised on a farm in large tanks or confined areas. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), about half of all the seafood consumed globally is farmed.

While this practice, known as aquaculture, has many advantages, others believe the downsides of farm-raised fish outweigh the benefits. However, there has been a push to improve fish farming efficiency and standards.

What is considered wild fish?

Fish caught in the natural environments where they live are considered “wild” fish. Many people prefer wild fish to farm-raised fish because they roam freely, have a more varied diet, and are not treated with antibiotics. Although, wild-caught fish can still carry contaminants that may be harmful when consumed. Also, some raise the question of sustainability when it comes to wild populations of fish.

Pros and Cons of Farmed-Raised Fish and Wild Fish

For the best seafood cooking and dining experience, it’s a good idea to know where your fish comes from, whether it was sustainably caught, and how it compares to other types of fish. Deciding on farmed or wild fish comes down to several factors and weighing the pros and cons of each.

1. Cost

It can be tough to explore healthy seafood options if you’re on a tight budget. When every penny counts, you may want to lean more towards farm-raised fish. Farmed fish is generally less expensive than those caught in the wild because they are already available to harvest and sell at scale. Also, some species of wild-caught seafood are being overfished. When fewer of these wild fish are available on the market, the price goes up.

2. Nutritional Value

The diets of farmed and wild fish are very different. Wild fish have access to more of a variety of nutrients from their diverse environments, while farm-raised fish are given the same feed every day. However, farmed fish food is designed to meet their nutritional needs and keep them healthy.

These differences in diet mean the nutrition found in wild fish versus farmed fish varies. Wild fish tend to be leaner and offer a higher percentage of trace minerals from their natural habitats. On the other hand, farm-raised fish are packed with heart-healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Depending on your dietary needs, farmed or wild fish may help you get the nutrients you need.

3. Freshness

Both wild and farmed fish are fresh if handled properly. After being caught, fish should be placed on ice immediately to preserve nutrients and flavor. Fresh fish will have metallic scales, clear eyes, red gills, and a briny smell. If you notice discoloration, cloudy eyes or gills, or an overly “fishy” odor, chances are your fish is not fresh – no matter where it came from.

4. Environmental Impact

Farming fish has come under scrutiny for several reasons, including:

  • Fish farms may pollute or create imbalances in natural ocean waters with excess waste.
  • Farmed fish can spread disease and parasites to wild fish.
  • Farm-raised fish can escape their enclosures and mate with wild fish species.

However, aquaculture can also take pressure off dwindling populations of wild fish, allowing them to bounce back from overfishing. There are also efforts to improve farming standards, including decreasing pollution and minimizing environmental risks.

If you want to do your part to help fish populations that are most at risk of extinction, you can choose to eat at sustainable restaurants or only eat sustainable seafood.

5. Taste

While there is a difference in taste and texture when comparing farmed and wild fish, which one is better depends on your preferences. As we mentioned, farmed fish has more fat content, which can add to a rich, mild flavor. Wild fish are leaner and often described as having more complex flavor profiles from the variety in their diets.

6. Chemicals

One assumption people make about farmed fish is that they’re blasted with chemicals and preservatives. The truth is that farm-raised fish are often treated with antibiotics to prevent diseases and bacteria from growing. However, both wild and farmed fish can have added preservatives to extend their shelf life as they travel to your grocery store or market.

The key to getting the best fish is knowing where your fish came from and trusting the source. You should always check the labeling, buy from the most reputable places, and ask questions if you have any doubts.

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Fresh Fish Restaurant Near Me in Las Vegas

Whether you want French cuisine, famous food street eats, or an intimate seafood date night, Las Vegas offers every culinary experience you could possibly want. Caviar Bar at Resorts World Las Vegas offers a diverse wild fish restaurant menu, a stunning dining room, the freshest gourmet seafood options, and a level of sophistication that will make your dining experience one for the books.

Farmed vs. Wild Fish Guide – FAQs

salmon jumping out of water

What kinds of fish are the healthiest?

There are many healthy fish options to try at home or at your favorite seafood restaurant. They are usually packed with protein, Omega-3s, and other vital nutrients. Some of the more popular choices include:

Salmon
Cod
Herring
Mahi-Mahi
Rainbow trout
Striped bass
Tuna
Sardines

What kinds of fish are the most environmentally sustainable?

According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), some of the best eco-friendly fish choices are:

Albacore
Pacific sardines
Black cod
Wild Alaskan salmon

How often should I eat seafood and why?

Eating seafood that is high in nutrients and low in mercury is an excellent way to add to a healthy diet. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends eating up to 12 ounces of fish per week to get possible benefits, including reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, stroke, and other health issues.

What is considered a fatty fish, and is it healthy?

Fatty fish are an excellent source of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fats are beneficial for cardiovascular, lung, and brain health. Some fatty fish that contain these good fats include:

  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon (both farmed and wild)
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Trout
  • Anchovies
  • Atlantic herring
  • Sardines
  • Mussels
  • Alaska pollock

For the finest in seafood dining, join us for dinner at Caviar Bar, one of the best Vegas restaurants 2023. Make your reservation online or contact us to book your table today.

three tuna fish on a dark wooden board

Resources: 

Bourne, J. (2014). Aquaculture – National Geographic.

Davis, N. (2022). Best Fish to Eat: 12 Healthiest Options – Nutrition.

Eco-friendly & healthy best choices | Seafood Selector.

Farmed Seafood | Industries | WWF. (2022).

Feeds for Aquaculture | NOAA Fisheries. (2022).

Fish Farms: What Is Fish Farming and Why Is It Bad? | FFAC. (2022).

Fish: Friend or Foe? | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2022).

Leech, J. (2019). 11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Eating Fish.

Mikstas, C. (2022). Fatty Fish That Are High in Omega-3s.

What is aquaculture?. (2022).