You Should Never Eat Orange Roughy Fish. Here's Why

At one point, you couldn't escape orange roughy on menus. According to Seafood Source, this particular fish lives off the coast of New Zealand and until a fairly recent PR campaign, went by the common name "slimehead." The bright orange fish features spiky fins, a bony head, and usually weighs in at three and half pounds. Don't expect to see orange roughies making their way to the shoreline. These fish only live at the ocean floor at 700 fathoms and require trawling to capture.

Due to their environment and physiology, the fish don't mate very often. Coupling this with the fact that the average age of a caught orange roughy ranges from 30 to 50 years, you can guarantee you end up with a fairly mature fish on your plate. This slow repopulation cycle means that orange roughies are extremely susceptible to overfishing. If you think getting a 50-year-old fish served up for dinner sounds strange, just imagine if you actually ate an old orange roughy. According to One Medical, the species commonly lives up to 100 years, if not longer, meaning you could potentially dine on a fish older than some antiques. The fish's longevity also means that they can pass on very poor nutrition.

A fish filled with a century of toxins

Due to the fish's long lifespan, orange roughies have the potential to accumulate a ton of toxins. According to One Medical, orange roughies contain large amounts of mercury that have led the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to issue an advisory against consuming this fish. According to SF Gate, the amount of heavy metal found in this species has the potential to interfere with brain function, while children and pregnant women shouldn't touch this fish. The EDF has gone so far as to recommend limiting your consumption of the fish to no more than twice a week, while children shouldn't eat it more than once a week. 

Due to its long lifespan and how rarely it procreates, orange roughies rank as one of the worst fish to eat when it comes to preserving the environment. For an ethical fish dinner free of high levels of mercury, make sure to pass on the orange roughy next time you have the opportunity to eat the fish. By eschewing the seafood for a healthier, more sustainable option, you ensure that you do your part to keep up a healthy lifestyle and do a bit of good for the earth.