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Blue Tilapia

Tilapia – Oreochromis


Description: O. aureus is the blue tilapia (pictured at right).  It is the most common in Florida.  Males during the breeding season are blue green with reddish edges to the fins, males and females the remainder of the year are a silvery blue.  O. mossambicus typically are darker colored from gray to black, the snout over the jaw is slightly concave and they have relatively large mouths.

Species: These four species are generally restricted; other tilapia species (ca. 100) are prohibited.  Blue tilapia are not restricted in some regions.

Range: Native range is African and the Middle East; however, in Florida these four species inhabit various portions of the southern half of the state.

Habitat: Varies from lakes and ponds to rivers and estuaries

Spawning Habitats: Each of the these species belong to a group in which the male digs a nest, and the female than picks up the fertilized eggs in her mouth to protect and aerate them.  The female continues to allow the small fry to return to her bucchal cavity (mouth) for protection when predators threaten.

Feeding Habits: Omnivorous feeding mostly benthically.  Although not true filter feeders they can gather phytoplankton/zooplankton in a mucous-like substance and swallow the bolus for nutrition.

Age and Growth: Rapidly maturing, the larger species like the blue tilapia can reach 10 pounds.

Potential Concerns: Only these four species of tilapia, which were requested for use in the aquaculture industry under strict permit criteria and following extensive research, are listed as restricted, all others are prohibited.   Further range expansion and competition with native species.

Information courtesy of

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