Brown trout and salmon have many similarities. For this reason many people wonder about their differences, if any. Let’s answer the question, are brown trout and salmon the same?
Brown trout and Atlantic salmon are different species although from the same family and genus. Salmon provides a higher percentage of nutrients and fatty acids than brown trout. Salmon tastes more mild and rich and has a firmer texture. Brown trout costs approximately $9 more per pound.
This article will compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients, habitats, size, weight and more.
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Brown Trout vs Salmon: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?
Are salmon and brown trout the same? How can you tell salmon from brown trout?
The easiest way to tell the difference between salmon and brown trout is by their tail fin and examining the roof of their mouths. The salmon tail fin is slightly forked compared to an unforked tail fin of a brown trout. The roof of a salmon’s mouth contains a single row of teeth while the brown trout has two staggered rows.
The caudal peduncle, located before the tail fin, on a salmon is narrow and tapered. The caudal peduncle on a brown trout is thicker and doesn’t taper.
The point where the upper and lower jaws meet on a brown trout extend more past the eyes than a salmon, which typically meets inline with the eyes and not past them.
Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
Atlantic salmon are from:
- Family: salmonidae
- Genus: Salmo
- Species: S. salar
Brown trout are from:
- Family: salmonidae
- Genus: Salmo
- Species: S. trutta
- Atlantic salmon are born in freshwater streams and rivers. When they get older, they migrate to The Atlantic Ocean. In rivers they can be found in Maine, the Long Island Sound and the coasts of New England.
- Brown trout are found in rivers, ponds or lakes in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The first brown trout were imported to the United States from Germany in 1883.
Salmon are anadromous, meaning they live in freshwater and saltwater. They migrate to the ocean to grow larger. The food in the ocean is much higher than in the streams. In the ocean, they can quickly grow which enables them to live longer because they are not eaten as much by predators.
- Atlantic salmon have blue and red spots when younger living in the freshwaters. As an adult they have black spots above the lateral line and a silver-blue color.
- Brown trout are brown to an olive green near the top. The sides are a creamy, golden and off white on the belly. They are covered in black and golden, brown spots.
Roof of the Mouth
- Atlantic Salmon have vomerine teeth inside the roof of the mouth. The vomerine teeth on the head and the shaft are in a single row.
- Brown trout have vomerine teeth inside the roof of the mouth. The teeth on the head and the shaft are in a staggered, zig-zag row containing more teeth than the salmon.
- Salmon is the typical long, narrow body shape and has one dorsal fin and an adipose fin. The tail fin is slightly forked.
- Brown trout is the typical long, narrow body shape and has one dorsal fin and an adipose fin. The tail is unforked.
Size and Weight
- Salmon average 28-30 inches long and weigh 8-12 pounds.
- Brown trout in smaller rivers and streams average 7-14 inches long and 2 pounds. In the larger waters brown trout are longer and heavier.
- Salmon average 3-7 years.
- Brown trout’s age varies from habitat to habitat. In smaller waters they average 5 years and up to 10 years in larger bodies of water.
Salmon consumes the following diet:
- Tiny invertebrates
- Small fish
Brown trout consumes the following diet:
- Small fish
If you’re wondering how steelhead trout and rainbow trout differ, check out my article, Steelhead Trout vs Rainbow Trout – What’s The Difference?
Brown Trout and Salmon: Tastes and Textures
One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does brown trout taste better than salmon?
Salmon tastes better than brown trout due to its milder, richer flavor. Brown trout has a stronger and fishier flavor than salmon. If a fishy, strong taste is desired brown trout is better. If a fishy flavor is undesirable, then salmon is better. Salmon’s texture is more firm and less delicate.
What does Atlantic salmon taste like? Atlantic Salmon has a mild to medium, rich taste with a slight fishy flavor. Salmon has a medium texture with large flakes.
What does brown trout taste like? Brown trout has a stronger, fishier taste. The larger the brown trout was when caught, the more fishy taste the fillet will contain. The texture is delicate and flaky when cooked.
Many people soak brown trout in milk overnight. This helps remove some of the fishiness by drawing out some of the oil.
If you’re wondering how brown trout and rainbow trout differ, check out my article, Rainbow Trout vs Brown Trout – What’s The Difference?
Brown Trout and Salmon Substitutions
When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have some salmon, you may ask, can I substitute salmon for brown trout?
Salmon can substitute for brown trout although brown trout’s flavor is fishier and more oily. Both fish allow for similar cooking methods in recipes. Brown trout and salmon can be grilled, baked, roasted, poached, fried or seared.
The best brown trout substitutes include the following:
- Rainbow trout
- Northern pike
The best salmon substitutes are:
- Arctic char
- Mahi mahi
- Sea trout
- Steelhead trout
- Stripped bass
When substituting salmon or brown trout try to stick to the following:
- Same size and weight.
- Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
- Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
- Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 11.
How To Cook Brown Trout
Some chefs suggest frying brown trout in a beer batter. Others like baking it wrapped in foil with some potatoes, onion or garlic. The stronger flavor of brown trout doesn’t require heavy seasoning like some other white fish.
To lessen the fishy taste soak the brown trout in milk overnight to draw out some of the oil.
- Smoked paprika
- Chile powder
- Barbecue sauce
- Lemon juice
How To Cook Salmon
The most popular cooking methods for salmon is baking, frying or pan searing. Salmon can also be broiled, poached or grilled. If you gently press on the fillet with a fork and the flakes separate from the fatty lines, it’s done cooking.
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Lemon juice
Many people wonder if brown trout and brook trout are the same or different? Find out in my recent article, Brook Trout vs Brown Trout – Let’s Compare The Differences.
How Much Does Brown Trout and Salmon Cost
The costs for salmon or brown trout will vary depending on how the fish are caught and the location. Therefore, which is more expensive, brown trout or salmon?
Brown trout is more expensive than Atlantic Salmon. The average cost for brown trout is approximately $28.00 per pound. The average cost for Atlantic Salmon is $17.98 per pound.
The local supermarket will almost always have salmon available. The price in the local markets will be cheaper than purchasing at a specialized fish market.
Unlike salmon, brown trout will probably not be found in a local store. I checked online at the Fulton Fish Market and found the following prices:
- Previous frozen brown trout fillet
- $28.32 per pound
- Atlantic Salmon
- $19.97 per pound
- Atlantic Salmon fillet
- $15.99 per pound
To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.
Brown Trout vs Salmon Mercury Levels
The EPA and FDA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 12. This is especially important for young infants, developing children and pregnant women.
They established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, does salmon or brown trout have more mercury?
Salmon and brown trout have similar levels of mercury. Freshwater trout and salmon are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. The recommendation is consuming them no more than two to three servings a week total.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
These mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. For any fish, check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 13.
Find out how trout compared to bass in my recent article, Trout vs Bass – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
Brown Trout and Salmon Nutritional Value
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of all the nutrients in brown trout and Atlantic salmon:
|Nutrient||Brown Trout, raw (4 Ounces)||Atlantic Salmon, raw (4 Ounces)|
|Fat||3.4 g||7.2 g|
|Saturated Fat||1.6 g||1.1 g|
|Cholesterol||66 mg||62 mg|
|Protein||21 g||23 g|
|Sodium||61 mg||50 mg|
|Omega-3||1.04 g||1.95 g|
|B-6||0.2 mg||0.9 mg|
|B-12||8.8 mcg||3.6 mcg|
|Thiamin||0.39 mg||0.20 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.37 mg||0.40 mg|
|B5||2.2 mg||1.8 mg|
|Iron||1.7 mg||0.9 mg|
|Niacin||5.1 mg||8.9 mg|
|Folate||14.7 mcg||28.3 mcg|
|Potassium||441 mg||555 mg|
|Magnesium||32 mg||32 mg|
|Phosphorus||277 mg||226 mg|
|Calcium||48.7 mg||13.6 mg|
|Zinc||0.7 mg||0.7 mg|
|Selenium||15.0 mcg||41.4 mcg|
Both fish contain a good number of minerals and vitamins. At first glance it’s difficult to determine which fish provides more. Therefore, is brown trout or salmon healthier?
Atlantic salmon is healthier than brown trout due to its higher percentage of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and protein. Salmon provides more B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, potassium and selenium than brown trout. Brown trout contains more calories and cholesterol than salmon.
Brown trout is healthy and contains many vitamins and minerals. Brown trout provides more B12, thiamin, B5, iron, phosphorus and calcium. Brown trout also contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Both fish provide a similar number of zinc and magnesium. It’s difficult to argue against either fish for its nutrient profile. The omega-3s help to tilt the benefits of salmon to healthier.
If you’re wondering why they are important, keep reading below about the health benefits of the nutrients for both fish.
Salmon, trout and other seafood are renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.
If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.
Brown Trout and Salmon Health Benefits
Both fish provide the same nutrients and therefore the same benefits. Although I broke down the benefits by which fish offers the higher percentage of each nutrient 20.
Salmon Health Benefits
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Salmon provides 1.95 grams of omega-3 and brown trout 1.04 grams per four ounces raw. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep arteries healthy. The omega-3s in flounder may help with the following:
- Keeping bad cholesterol low.
- Keeping good cholesterol high.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Reducing plaque build-up.
- Lowering triglycerides
- Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.
DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 21.
Studies suggest omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The B vitamins provided by salmon and brown trout include B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) B6, B12 and B5. B vitamins help support the following:
- Energy levels.
- Red blood cells.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve function.
- Brain function.
There are 555 mg per four ounces of raw salmon. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 22.
The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 23.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 24.
Folate, also known as B9, salmon provides 28.3 mcg per four ounces. A deficiency in folate has been linked to depression in people with epilepsy. Low folate has been associated with an increased risk of depression 25.
Folic acid (B9) can improve blood flow and help blood vessels to relax. In a study of over 3,000 women, the findings suggest that using folic acid containing supplements may lower the risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy and preeclampsia 26.
There are 41.4 mcg of selenium per four ounces of salmon. Selenium is a nutrient which isn’t written about much. I’m unsure why many don’t write about it more because studies 27 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- Heart disease
- The immune system
- Cognitive issues
Find out how salmon compared to another fish powerhouse, cod, in my article, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?
Brown Trout Health Benefits
Brown trout provides 48.7 mg of calcium per four ounces. Calcium is important for blood pressure and the heart. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 28.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Build and maintain strong bones.
- Muscles need calcium to function properly.
- Improve nerve function.
There are 277 mg of phosphorus per four ounces of raw brown trout. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:
- Muscle recovery after exercise.
- Muscle contraction.
- Help the body store and manage energy.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Promote teeth and bone strength.
There are 32 mg of magnesium per four ounces provided by brown trout and salmon. Magnesium calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. Magnesium has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 29.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 30.
Magnesium in salmon and brown trout helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure.
In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Read Next – More Trout and Salmon Fish Articles!
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- National Park Service: Brown Trout
- Wikipedia: Brown trout
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Brown Trout
- Oceana: Atlantic Salmon
- NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Salmon (Protected)
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Atlantic Salmon
- NOAA Fisheries: Fun Facts about Amazing Atlantic Salmon
- New Hampshire Fish and Game: Salmon and Brown Trout: Know The Difference!
- Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife: Identification of Salmon and Brown Trout
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- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
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- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, Atlantic, salmon
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- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Is Depression Related to Low Folate Levels in People with Epilepsy? An Observational Study and Meta-analysis
- Women And Birth: Folic acid supplement use and the risk of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis