The best known member of the tilapia group is the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), which is widely cultivated in ponds. The Mozambique tilapia is usually small in size with a moderately deep and compressed body. It has a long dorsal fin, the anterior part of which is barbed. It has a nostril on each side of the snout. Its intermittent lateral line may consist of two or three parts. Tilapia differ from bluegill in the absence of a dark blue or black operculum.
Native to Africa and the Middle East, tilapia has been widely distributed throughout the world for food production. It is abundant in many Mexican lakes, where it has been introduced and fished by the hundreds of thousands, and is also found in some southern U.S. waters, most notably Florida.
Tilapia thrive in the warm, weedy waters of slow-moving streams, canals, irrigation ditches, ponds, and lakes. Most fish are strictly freshwater, but some have adapted to brackish or salt water, and some can tolerate environments with extremely high temperatures and very low oxygen levels. Tilapia belong to the Cichlidae family, well known to aquarium enthusiasts. There are approximately 1,300 species.
Most of the fish are small, although some can reach 20 pounds, and are schooling species.
Life history and Behavior
Food and feeding habits
In freshwater they feed mainly on algae and plants. Many feed by mouth, although some build spawning nests, which they guard after the eggs hatch.
|Life span, years||11|
|Maximum body weight, kg||1.1|
|Maximum length, cm||39|
|Sailing speed, m/s||No information|
|Threat to people||Edible|
|Way of eating||Predator|