Choose Which Fish to Eat
Bought or Caught -
think species, size and source
The species and size of the fish are important when choosing which fish to eat. Some people need to be more careful than others, so it is also important that you make your fish choices based on who you are.
How much mercury is in fish depends on the:
- Species. Some fish have
more mercury than others
because of what they eat and
how long they live.
- Size. Smaller fish generally have less
mercury than larger, older fish of the
same species. Unlike people, fish do not get
rid of mercury.
- Source. Fish from lakes in northeastern Minnesota generally have more mercury than in southern and central Minnesota. How clean a lake looks is not a sign of how safe the fish are to eat.
Fish bought at a store or restaurant also contain mercury. Farm-raised fish, such as salmon, are low in mercury but can contain other contaminants that may be found in fish feed. The amount of contaminants is small enough that farm-raised salmon are still good to eat 2 times a week. See Contaminants and Minnesota Fish for more information.
Young children (under 15 years old) and fetuses are more sensitive to mercury. Too much mercury can cause lasting problems with understanding and learning. But studies show children benefit developmentally when moms eat fish low in mercury during pregnancy. By following the MDH Safe-Eating Guidelines, you can get the benefits of eating fish and reduce your exposure to contaminants in Minnesota-caught and purchased fish.
See Statewide Safe-Eating Guidelines for:
- Sensitive Population:
Pregnant Women, Women Who Could Become Pregnant, and Children Under Age 15
- General Population:
Men, Boys Age 15 and Over, and Women Not Planning to Become Pregnant
See Site-Specific Safe-Eating Guidelines if you are interested in fish caught in specific Minnesota lakes and rivers.