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Mojarra vs. Tilapia — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 7, 2023
Mojarra is a common name for various species of fish, mainly in the Gerreidae family, while Tilapia refers to several cichlid fish, widely farmed for food.
Mojarra vs. Tilapia — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Mojarra and Tilapia


Key Differences

Mojarra encompasses a variety of fish species found primarily in marine and brackish waters, particularly in the Gerreidae family. They are recognized for their compressed bodies and inhabit tropical and subtropical regions. Tilapia, on the other hand, refers to freshwater fish in the Cichlidae family, often found in rivers and lakes, and are distinguished by their laterally compressed, deep bodies.
When it comes to fishing and consumption, Mojarras are sought for their light, flaky flesh and are popular in recreational fishing due to their challenging catch. Tilapias are one of the most farmed fish globally due to their rapid growth, adaptability, and mild-flavored flesh, making them a staple in aquaculture and a common sight on dinner tables.
In terms of ecological impact, some Mojarra species play a role in local ecosystems as forage fish, while others are targeted in commercial fisheries. Tilapia species have been introduced worldwide, which has led to them becoming invasive in some regions, outcompeting native fish species and altering habitats.
From an aquaculture perspective, Mojarras are not commonly farmed on a large scale, primarily because they are not as easy to breed and grow as Tilapias. Conversely, Tilapia farming is a significant industry, with techniques and feeds developed to optimize their production due to their hardiness and ability to thrive on a vegetarian diet.
Lastly, Mojarras often feature in regional cuisines where they are caught, appreciated for their local flavor and cultural significance. Tilapia is a global commodity, often found in varied cuisines, valued for its versatility and ease of cooking, which transcends regional culinary boundaries.

Comparison Chart




Marine and brackish waters
Freshwater rivers and lakes


Not commonly farmed
Widely farmed globally


Slower growth rate
Rapid growth and breeding

Culinary Use

Local and regional cuisine
Global commodity in varied cuisines

Compare with Definitions


A common catch in recreational fishing.
He was proud of the mojarra he reeled in today.


A freshwater fish commonly farmed for food.
Tilapia is often found in grocery stores due to its farming success.


Fish known for their distinctive compressed bodies.
The mojarra's shape makes it easily identifiable.


A member of the cichlid family, adaptable to various environments.
Tilapia can survive in different water conditions, which makes them resilient.


A term used in different regions to describe related fish species.
In some countries, mojarra is a staple in traditional dishes.


Fish species that have become invasive in some ecosystems.
The introduced tilapia is outcompeting native species in the lake.


A name for various small, silvery fish in the Gerreidae family.
The fisherman caught a mojarra near the mangroves.


Known for its fast growth and breeding in aquaculture.
Farmers prefer tilapia for their efficient turnaround.


Tropical fish often found in coastal waters.
Mojarras thrive in the warm waters off the coast.


Widely consumed due to its mild flavor.
Tilapia is a favorite for those who prefer a subtler fish taste.


Any of various small, silvery, mainly tropical marine fishes of the family Gerreidae, having a very protrusible mouth.


Tilapia ( tih-LAH-pee-ə) is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the coelotilapine, coptodonine, heterotilapine, oreochromine, pelmatolapiine, and tilapiine tribes (formerly all were "Tilapiini"), with the economically most important species placed in the Coptodonini and Oreochromini. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes, and less commonly found living in brackish water.


The mojarras are a family, Gerreidae, of fish in the order Perciformes. The family includes about 53 species found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate regions.


Any of various cichlid fishes of the genera Tilapia, Oreochromis, and Sarotherodon, native to Africa and the Middle East and raised for food in many parts of the world.


Any perciform fish in the family Gerreidae, often used as bait.


Any of various edible fish, formerly species of the genus Tilapia, but now placed in other cichlid genera (such as Oreochromis), native to Africa and the Middle East but cultivated worldwide.


Any of certain basslike marine fishes (mostly of tropical seas, and having a deep, compressed body, protracile mouth, and large silvery scales) constituting the family Gerridæ, as Gerres plumieri, found from Florida to Brazil and used as food. Also, any of numerous other fishes of similar appearance but belonging to other families.


A genus of Cichlidae


Small silvery schooling fishes with protrusible mouths found in warm coastal waters

Common Curiosities

Is mojarra good for eating?

Yes, mojarra is considered tasty with light, flaky flesh.

Is tilapia environmentally friendly to farm?

Tilapia is considered one of the more sustainable fish to farm due to their diet and growth rate.

Are mojarras found in freshwater?

While typically marine, some mojarra species can be found in brackish or freshwater.

Can tilapia be caught in the wild?

While possible, most tilapia consumed are from farms due to their widespread aquaculture.

Can mojarras be used in aquariums?

Some smaller species may be kept in aquariums but they are not common pets.

Can tilapia live in saltwater?

Tilapia are primarily freshwater fish but some species can tolerate brackish water.

Is tilapia high in omega-3?

Tilapia has lower omega-3 levels compared to other fish like salmon.

How do tilapia affect native fish species?

Tilapia can be invasive, often outcompeting native fish for resources.

Are mojarras easy to farm?

Mojarras are not commonly farmed due to their slower growth rate compared to tilapia.

Do mojarras have any special features?

Mojarras often have a protruding lower jaw and compressed bodies.

What's the best way to cook mojarra?

Mojarra is often grilled or fried, especially in Latin American cuisines.

Are mojarras available all year round?

Their availability can vary depending on the region and fishing regulations.

How long does it take for tilapia to reach harvest size?

Tilapia can reach harvest size in about 6 to 8 months.

What does tilapia taste like?

Tilapia has a mild, somewhat sweet flavor and a firm texture.

Are mojarras endangered?

The conservation status of mojarras varies by species; some may be under threat due to habitat loss.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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