Family Salmonidae

Trout and Salmon differences

Salmon and trout are related, both being in the family Salmonidae. However, in common usage in US English, the words trout and salmon often refer to two different type fishes. People tend to think of salmon as large fish with pink (salmon colored) flesh that live in the ocean, but return to freshwater to spawn. While trout are thought of as small, mostly freshwater game fish. If I ordered salmon in a restaurant I would expect a large salmon steak and would be very disappointed to be served a small bony trout instead.

Scientifically there has been some renaming and reclassifying going on that has blurred the distinction between the names salmon and trout. Most of the "salmon" are found in the genus Oncorhyncus, but some of the trouts can be found there as well. For example, the steelhead trout which was originally classified by the American Fisheries Society as Salmo gairdneri has been reclassified as Oncorhynchus mykiss. The brown trout is the only trout still classified as Salmo with several of the other trouts classified in the genus Salvelinus. Of course, the Atlantic Salmon is classified in the genus Salmo. People have found the trout difficult to classify because of the ease of hybridization among trout and the intermixing of introduced and native species.

More info on Salmoniformes.

What is the difference between the Atlantic salmon and the Pacific salmon?

The Pacific Salmon says "later dude" and wears Hawaiian shirts. The Atlantic Salmon says "yo!" and wears shoes (sometimes).

The Atlantic salmon is a member of the genus Salmo, an oceanic trout of the family Salmonidae. The Pacific salmon are found in the genus Oncorhynchus. The seven species of Pacific Salmon are:

The main biological difference between the Atlantic and Pacific "salmons" is that Salmo may spawn more than once, and Oncorhynchus die soon after one spawn. See the Salmon Family Tree.

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Last updated: August 3, 2021