7 Core Difference Between Steelhead and Salmon with Table

What is the difference between steelhead and salmon?

Most people like to include fish in their meals. It is mostly liked b people all over the world. There are very many different types of fish with different tastes.

Some are extremely big while others are very tiny. Some are from slaty water bodies while others are from freshwater bodies. Steelhead and salmon are closely related and have similar tastes although they are different.

The main difference between steelhead and salmon is that steelhead is a type of trout, different fish from the same family of fish as salmon while salmon is a trout.

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Difference Between Steelhead and Salmon

Comparison Table (Steelhead vs Salmon)

CharacteristicsSteelheadSalmon
ClassificationIt is classified as a type of trout.It is a trout.
HabitatThey inhabit tributaries emptying into the Pacific Ocean.It is found in tributaries flowing into the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.
ColorThey have silver and brassy body color.It ranges from light orange to almost white color.
Color of eggsThey are orange in color.The color of eggs ranges from a pale-yellowish orange color to dark reddish-orange.
Shape of headThey have a round head.They have a sharper head.
DeathThey live long after spawning.They die after spawning.
Number of spawning timesThey are able to spawn a lot of time in their lifetime.They only spawn once in their lifetime.

What is a Steelhead?

Steelhead is a type of trout. They are native to freshwater environments and are able to live in freshwater for about two years before migrating to oceans.

The steelhead that lives in freshwater is the rainbow trout. Steelhead migrates to the ocean and returns to freshwater during spawning time. Rainbow trout do not leave fresh water.

Steelhead is large and colorful as compared to rainbow trout. They can live up to 11 years and spawn multiple times during their lifetime.

Their body is silvery and streamlined with round heads. They have black spots and red or pink stripes running down the side of the fish horizontally.

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What is a Salmon?

Salmon is a trout. They live both in fresh water and salty water. The moment they are born, they immediately migrate to the ocean. They spawn in freshwater bodies. The moment they have spawned they die.

Their color ranges from light orange to almost white. The color depends on the diet the fish feeds on. They have sharper heads as compare to steelhead.

They lay their eggs in freshwater streams. The color of their eggs ranges from pale-yellowish orange to dark reddish-orange.

Salmon occurs in various species. They are grouped into two main genera with nine broad species. All the species have different adaptations.

When in the ocean, they feed on a wide variety of prey. They feed on crustaceans such as amphipods and krill. On the other hand, they are eaten by bears, bass, bird eagle, and humans.

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Main Differences between Steelhead and Salmon

  1. Steelhead can live in either freshwater or salty water throughout while salmon only go to freshwater during spawning.
  2. Steelhead stays in freshwater for around two years after they are born before moving to oceans while salmons move out immediately, they are born.
  3. Steelhead has a silver and brassy body color while salmons range from light orange to almost white in body color.
  4. Steelhead has a round head while salmons have sharper heads.
  5. Steelhead lay eggs that are orange in color while salmons’ eggs range from pale-yellowish orange to dark reddish-orange in color.
  6. Steelhead lives long after spawning while salmons die immediately after spawning.

Similarities between Steelhead and Salmon

  1. They both feed on the same diet of krill.
  2. They both live in salty and freshwater bodies.
  3. They both move to freshwater bodies during the spawning season.
  4. They both have the same body shape.

In Conclusion

Steelhead and salmons are both fish that are often confused. Steelhead is a type of trout while salmon is trout. They both can live in salty and freshwater bodies. Although steelhead can live in either salty or freshwater throughout, salmons cannot. They have to migrate immediately after spawning.

The main feature that makes steelhead different from salmons is steelhead is a type of trout from the salmon family while salmon is a trout.

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