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.
As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients inquire about seafood. In addition to coaching clients about catfish and bass, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both fish for over 20 years.
Brown Trout vs Salmon: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?
How can you tell the difference?
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
Other salmon species include sockeye and pink salmon.
Brown trout are from:
- Family: salmonidae
- Genus: Salmo
- Species: S. trutta
- Atlantic salmon are born as freshwater fish in streams and rivers. When salmon 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.
- When fishing 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, the species can quickly grow which enables them to live longer because salmon 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, found in the head and tail areas.
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 they 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
Fishing & Wildlife: Brown, Rainbow Trout and Salmon
The following tips are for trout fishing:
- For trout lures, inline spinners and 3-5″ crank baits work well.
- They favor primary colors and patterns.
- Choose black, white, silver and brown.
- Late spring is the best time for trout fishing although all year fishing is okay. Some people like to start in March through September depending on your location.
- Fishing is best in temperatures between 41 and 67 degrees but not required.
If you’re wondering how the species 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 or when fishing is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does one taste better than the other?
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.
Atlantic Salmon has a mild to medium, rich taste with a slight fishy flavor. Salmon have a medium texture with large flakes.
Brown trout has a stronger, fishier taste. The larger the fish 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.
I conducted original research about taste by polling my readers, clients and members of food groups. I asked, brown trout vs salmon, which one tastes better?
- 61% said they preferred salmon.
- 39% said they preferred brown trout.
To conduct more research about taste, I set up a blind taste test at home. Both fish were cooked and seasoned the same way. The results of the test mirrored the poll above and salmon was the winner.
If you’re wondering how trouts differ, check out my article, Rainbow vs Brown – What’s The Difference?
When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish in as tore or when fishing. If you have only salmon, you may ask, can I substitute one for the other?
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. Both of them 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 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 1.
Many people wonder if brown and brook are the same species or different? Find out in my recent article, Brook Trout vs Brown – Let’s Compare The Differences.
The costs for salmon or trout will vary depending on how the fish are caught fishing and the location sold. Therefore, which one is more expensive?
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 conducted original research on the costs by checking various stores for both species prices.
First, 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
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 2. This is especially important for young infants, developing children and pregnant women.
They established a list of best fish, good species choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, which one, salmon or trout has more mercury?
Salmon and brown trout have similar levels of mercury. Both fish are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels.
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 especially if you’re fishing 3.
Find out how bass compared to trout in my recent article, Trout vs Bass – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
Brown Trout and Salmon Nutrition
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of all the nutrients in trout and 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, which species is 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. Trout contains more calories and cholesterol than salmon.
Trout is healthy and contains many vitamins and minerals. They provide more B12, thiamin, B5, iron, phosphorus and calcium. 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.
I’ll try choosing salmon first for the taste and omega-3s. If not, purchasing some trout is fine with me. Also, salmon is easier for me to find in the market.
Brown Trout and Salmon Health Benefits
Salmon and trout 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 7.
Salmon Health Benefits
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Salmon provides more omega-3 per four ounces raw than trout. 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 8.
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 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. more than trout. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 9.
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 10.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 11.
Folate, also known as B9, salmon provides 28.3 mcg per four ounces, more than trout. A deficiency in folate has been linked to depression in people with epilepsy. Low folate has been associated with an increased risk of depression 12.
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 13.
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 14 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
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 15.
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 trout Atlantic. 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 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 16.
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 17.
Magnesium in salmon and 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.
If you have any questions about this article or other posts, don’t hesitate to email the details to us. You can find an email on our contact page. We’ll do our best to reply as soon as possible.
Read Next – More Trout and Salmon Fish Articles!
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake
- USDA: Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw
- New Zealand Food Composition Data: Trout, brown, flash, raw
- USDA: Trout
- FDA: Seafood Nutrition Facts
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- 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