What Is Tilapia

    Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes and less commonly found living in brackish water. Whole tilapia fish can be processed into skinless, boneless (Pin-Bone Out, or PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30 percent to 37 percent, depending on fillet size and final trim.

    Tilapia are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good protein source. They also contain the micronutrients phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium. Tilapia from aquaculture contain especially high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

    Type of Tilapia

    Tilapia, like other fish and animals, come in a variety of species. Three of the most commonly fished and eaten species of Tilapia are Nile, Blue and Mozambique.



    Nile Tilapia

    Oreochromis niloticus, more popularly known as Nile Tilapia. Thanks to the fish’s delicious mild taste and nutritional benefits (high protein and low fat), Tilapia’s popularity in America has surged over the past 20 years. Pioneering seafood companies have helped Tilapia become the 4th most eaten seafood in USA (after shrimp, salmon and tuna).

    Nile Tilapia reach maturity after five to seven months at roughly 1-2 pounds, Nile Tilapia thrive in waters around 80 degrees and begin to reproduce when temperatures drop to about 75 degrees. Nile Tilapia can be raised in various ways, including ponds and in pristine lakes – about 70% of the Fresh Tilapia eaten in the USA is all natural and lake-grown.

    Nile Tilapia is among the most sustainability farmed fish you can buy and is widely available grocery stores and restaurants.

    Blue Tilapia

    With origins in Northern Africa and the Middle East, Blue Tilapia, which is often blue-gray with a pink-white belly, can be found in abundance in Florida’s lakes, rivers and streams. The adaptability of this species means that it can also live in saltwater, although it thrives in freshwater.

    Blue Tilapia takes much longer to reach maturity than Nile Tilapia and commonly reaches two to four pounds within three years.

    Mozambique Tilapia

    This species of Tilapia is native to Africa and was introduced to the United States for sport fishing and even as a means of aquatic plant control. It is often hybridized with both Blue and Nile Tilapia as they can withstand colder waters, while Mozambique Tilapia can’t. This species is easily recognizable because of its olive-gray tone and yellow belly.

    Mozambique Tilapia sits comfortably in the middle of Blue Tilapia and Nile Tilapia in terms of growth rate and weight. This species can reach over two pounds in one year.

    Just like with any other animal, the taste and nutrition levels of Tilapia are heavily affected by the way they’re raised and what they’re fed.

    Raising Tilapia



    Every breed of Tilapia is different, but most Tilapia prefer temperatures of 77 to 86'F (25-30'C) and will not thrive or grow at lower temperatures.

    Water Qaulity

    No water filtration is typically required in a pond; water hyacinth can remove enough pollutants. In an aquaponics system, a bio-filter and regular water changes of about 20% per week or 10% twice a week are enough to maintain water quality in an established system.


    The size of the pond should be determined by the number of fish you want to raise. A good guide is 4 to 5 square feet of water per mature fish or 2-3 mature fish per square meter of water surface in a pond environment. No fewer than 3 fish per 50 gallons, and up to 12 adult fish can be contained in a 55 gallon drum. The water depth in any environment should be more than 3 feet or one meter; never less than 2.5 feet (three-fourths meter) deep. The water should be still and not flowing so if a stream or river is used, the pond should be separated from the flowing water. Exposure to sunlight is very important both to maintain temperature and to promote the growth of green food such as algae.

    Care and Feeding

    Maintain the natural blue green algae and Plankton by adding more fertilizer. Place 5 lbs (2.5 kg) of chicken droppings in each of several sacks and suspend in the water at every corner of the pond. The sack slows the release, preventing excessive oxygen depletion during decomposition. Supplement feeds with greens, duckweed, flax, wheat germ, fine rice bran, bread crumbs, eggs, earthworms, grubs, termites, and others at an initial rate of 5% of the total body weight of the fish. Avoid feeding more than the fish will eat in one session. Plant shade type water plants during hot weather, but do not totally cover the pond with plants as this will interfere with the natural food production process.