Tilapia, the Garbage Fish (this. is. a. public. service. announcement.)

Just one of the many reasons why LAS-NYC enjoys it's reputation as THE indispensible electronic magazine (E-Mag) for music, style, and ideas is that while we prefer to embrace and promote the niceties of the world, such as luxury automobiles, fine dining, and chubby muffin-top women in high heels - we also feel an obligation to put the final nails in whatever coffin of lameness we deem necessary: in this case "Tilapia".

Anyone of 'going out to eat' age knows that every few years restaurants come up with a new "It Fish" - an exotically named item usually included in the menu at a Chili's or TGI Friday's chain, (I was gonna mention Steak and Ale, but Steak and Ale has a fine salad bar, and excellent Knights of the Round Table decor) because salmon and flounder apparently are no longer good enough. A few years ago it was "Mahi Mahi", a Hawaiian delight..

And before that it was the somewhat disturbing "Orange Roughy":

*reminds me of my ex^

The It Fish of the last few years has been Tilapia, and you'll see it anywhere from the aforementioned chains to hip privately owned spots which might otherwise serve fine cuisine, but have been unknowingly duped into passing off this aquatic abomination as something you should eat.

What people don't seem to know about Tilapia is that not only is it not exotic (it's farm raised here in the US and all over the world), it's DISGUSTING. Tilapia are raised in fish farms, often along with other farm-raised fish such as catfish, and are held in tanks downstream from the other fish - this makes good economic sense to the fishfarmers, because the Tilapia feed on the fecal matter of other fish. In fact, they consume at least SIX TIMES their own body weight in fish poop, to the point that they're actually known as the aquatic world's "shitmouths" - fact. You'd never know by tasting this bland species - it usually takes on the flavor of whatever seasoning or batter it's prepared with, but don't forget that "you are what you eat", and so is a fish (do the math).

So next time you're perusing the lunch buffet at Chez Pussycat or Satin Dolls, remember - skip the bottom-feeder (no pun intended), and maybe go with the Monte Cristo Sandwich.


POST SCRIPT 3/18/10 - Irritable reader "Ricky" sent in this picture of his Tilapia dinner along with some anti-sushi "disinfo" in his little comment. Thanks Ricky from Des Moines!


  1. Lost at Seafood?

  2. Very informative!

  3. Thanks for the warning, however it will not stop me from enjoying a delicious talapia treat for dinner. Did you know that there is a higher fecal bacteria count in one average piece of sushi than there is in 5 pounds of talapia. Get a clue pseudo ichthyologist!

  4. I had photo shoot in the Bronx at this warehouse a few years back. I was shooting an Art storage warehouse and to make a long story short there was a tilapia farm in the basement.... Yes, the basement of a warehouse in the Bronx. Apparently they grow quickly and cheaply anywhere, even a Bronx warehouse basement.

  5. After getting out of the Navy in Hawaii in 1975, I had a brief job with the State Dept of Fisheries. A biologist there was studying tilapia as a cheap source of protein for the 3rd world's teeming millions! According to him, they will eat nearly anything and are very efficient at converting vegetable matter (garbage) into animal protein. I almost flipped when I saw it on the menu at $13.95 a plate!!!