A farmed fish is rounder than one caught in the wild, with less of a torpedo shape, and has broken stripes instead of solid ones. The farmed bass rarely grows beyond three pounds and is usually harvested when it reaches a pound and a half. Quality farm-raised fish are fed on a custom diet with high proportions of fish meal and fish oil—designed to emulate as closely as possible the diet eaten by the wild striper.
Not all farmed striped bass are alike, however. Better farms raise their fish in large tanks with water filtered hourly; the filtration produces a current that encourages the fish to swim vigorously—they cover some 25 miles a day—rather than floating around in a leisurely fashion. This exercise gives the bass firmer, flakier flesh.
Some diners find wild striped bass to be stronger in flavor than its farm-raised cousin. We think of it another way: Ocean-going bass is not as consistent in taste as the farmed fish, but it is more robust. After all, it's wild—and that's the attraction.