Taxonomic classification of
English Name: Nile Tilapia
Tilapia, its brief history:
Common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine
Mainly freshwater fish, inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes,
and less commonly found living in brackish water.
The common name tilapia is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapia,
which is itself a latinisation of thiape, the Tswana word for "fish".
Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa
and the Levant, and are of increasing importance in aquaculture and
has become the third most important fish in aquaculture after carp and
salmon; worldwide production exceeded 1,500,000 metric tons in 2002 and
Tilapia fisheries originated in Africa. The accidental and
deliberate introductions of tilapia into Asian freshwater lakes
have inspired outdoor aquaculture projects in various countries
with tropical climates, most notably Honduras, Papua New
Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Tilapiines are among the easiest and most profitable fish to
farm due to their omnivorous diet, tolerance of high stocking
density, and rapid growth.
In some regions the fish can be raised in rice fields at planting
time and grow to edible size (12–15 cm, 5–6 inches) when the
rice is ready for harvest. Unlike salmon, which rely on highprotein feeds based on fish or meat, commercially important
tilapiine species eat a vegetable or cereal-based diet.
the third most important fish in aquaculture after carp and salmon.
Father of tilapia is Raphael Guerrero III.
They are best considered for farming because they have met the criterias for species
selection; they show excellent growth rates on low protein diets, whether cropping
natural aquatic production or receiving supplementary food. They can tolerate wide
ranges of environmental conditions, show little susceptibility to disease and are
amenable to handling and captivity. Tilapia are also multiple spawners, most of all
they enjoy wide acceptance as food fish because of their high palatability.
It is a fast growing fish reaching an average weight of 120 to 200grams in four
months with at least 80% survival. Most will grow in brackish water and some will
adapt to full strength sea water. These characteristics make tilapia suitable for
culture in most developing countries. They are most often grown in ponds, cages and
Nile tilapia is a tropical species that prefers to live in shallow water. The lower and
upper lethal temperatures for Nile tilapia are 11-12 °C and 42 °C, respectively, while
the preferred temperature ranges from 31 to 36 °C. It is an omnivorous grazer that
feeds on phytoplankton, periphyton, aquatic plants, small invertebrates, benthic
fauna, detritus and bacterial films associated with detritus.
Physical Characteristics of Tilapia
have laterally compressed, deep bodies
their lower pharyngeal bones are fused into a single tooth-bearing structure
A complex set of muscles allows the upper and lower pharyngeal bones to
be used as a second set of jaws for processing food (cf. morays), allowing a
division of labor between the "true jaws" (mandibles) and the "pharyngeal
jaws". This means they are efficient feeders that can capture and process a
wide variety of food items.
Their mouths are protrusible, usually bordered with wide and often swollen
The jaws have conical teeth. Typically tilapia have a long dorsal fin, and a
lateral line which often breaks towards the end of the dorsal fin, and starts
again two or three rows of scales below.
Classification of Tilapia Species used in
1. Genus Tilapia
Both parents guard, protect, aerate the
breed, and help move clutch to different nest
sites. Fry at first feeding are 4-5 mm and show
feeble swimming ability. Fry survival relatively
2. Genus Sarotherodon (Paternal/biparental).
Both parents stay close to each other. Eggs and
fry brooded in oral cavity up until they are ready for
release. Brood may not be collected once released. Fry
are between 7-9 mm at first breeding, well developed
fins for swimming. Fry survival high.
3. Genus Oreochromis (Maternal).
Female solely involve in brood care. After
spawning, female leaves nest to rear her clutch in
safety. Fry brooded up until free swimming. There is an
extended period of care during which fry seek shelter in
buccal cavity for safety. First feeders have welldeveloped fins for swimming. Fry survival high.
Most common cultured species:
Male (top) and female Tilapia
Male (top) and female O. aureus
Male (top) and female Red Tilapia
Male (top) and female
All tilapia are tolerant to brackish water. The
Nile tilapia is the least saline tolerant of the
commercially important species, but grows well at
salinities up to 15 ppt. The Blue tilapia grows well in
brackish water up to 20 ppt salinity, and the
Mozambique tilapia grows well at salinities near or at
full strength seawater. Therefore, the Mozambique
tilapia and some mossambicus derived red tilapia are
preferred for saltwater culture.
2. Water Temperature
Tilapia generally stop feeding when
water temperature falls below 63⁰ F. Reproduction is best at
water temperatures higher than 80⁰ F. Optimal water
temperature fortilapia growth is about 85 to 88⁰ F.
3. Dissolved oxygen concentration
Tilapia survive routine dawn dissolved
oxygen (DO) concentrations of less than 0.3 mg/L
In general, tilapia can survive in pH
ranging from 5 to 10 but do best in a
pH range of 6 to 9.
Important requirements and Characteristics
of Sexually Mature Tilapia
4 to 6 months
WEIGHT : 5 to 100 grams
LENGTH : 10 to 12 cm
OPTIMUM 25 to 30⁰C
EGG PRODUCTION PER FEMALE
100 g female tilapia – 100 eggs per spawning
100-600 g female tilapia – 1000 to 1500 eggs per
BEST SIZE FOR BROODSTOCK
100 to 200 g
The following sequence characterizes the mating behavior of
1. Brood stock become acclimated to their surroundings 3 to 4
days after stocking.
2. Males define and defend territories on the bottom, and form a
nest by cleaning a circular area 20 to 30 cm. Wide. In ponds with
soft bottoms, the nest excavated 5 to 8 cm deep by digging with
3. The female is attracted to the nest where the male courts her.
4. A mating pair of Tilapia
5. The female lays her eggs in the nest after which
they are fertilized by the male.
6. The female picks up the fertilized eggs in her mouth
and leaves the nest. The male continues to guard the
nest and attract other females for mating. Courtship
and mating require less than a day.
7. Eggs are incubated for 2 to 5 days in the female’s
mouth before they hatch. Young fry stay with their
mother for an additional 5 to 7 days. They hide in her
mouth when danger threatens. The female does not
eat while incubating her eggs or caring for the new fry.
8. A female guards her young for 5 to 7 days. They
hide in her mouth when danger threatens.
9. The female will be ready to mate again about one
week after she stops caring for the fry.
10. Fry from schools after leaving their mother and
can be easily harvested with small mesh nest at this
time. Large schools of fry may be seen 13 to 18 days
after broodstock have been introduced to their new
Tilapias Fingerling Production:
For the purposes of farming tilapia there are
two sources from which tilapia fingerlings
are obtained: collection from the wild and by
breeding in nurseries established in
countries where tilapia is farmed. Countries
which do not have either of these sources
they import their requirements from countries
that has them.
Seven (7) inverted (mosquito) nets,
Formula SRT-95 (hormone).
Place in the inverted nets (in the pond) the
newly hatched fingerlings from the mouth of
the mother tilapia.
Feed them with the formula.
Do this in 21 days. A kilo of hormone can
feed 6,000 fingerlings.