The eating qualities of the various species of tilapia can be greatly improved if they are killed humanely by iki jime or a firm knock to the head before placing them in an ice slurry after bleeding. Smaller specimens (less than 20-25 cm) taken from warm water (>20°C/70°F) may also be killed in an ice slurry.
- Tilapia are hardy fishes tolerant of marginal water quality conditions such as high temperatures, low oxygen and high organic loading.
- They feed mainly on phytoplankton or benthic algae but will opportunistically feed on smaller fishes and crustaceans.
- Tilapias can outcompete native fishes by virtue of their early maturation (maturity is reached at 3-6 months of age) and high survival of their young due to mouth brooding (Females incubate their eggs inside their mouths for a week or so and can incubate new batches of eggs every 30 or so days under suitable conditions).
- Nile Tilapia have a natural range extending from the Nile Basin into central and western Africa. They occur in a wide variety of freshwater rivers and lakes, and easily adapt to environments marginal for other fishes such as sewage canals and irrigation channels.
- This species has been introduced into many countries, mainly for aquaculture development. The largest aquaculture producers of Tilapia include China, Egypt, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, while other producers include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Taiwan, Cuba, Israel, Malaysia, the USA, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
- Several countries have reported adverse ecological impact after introduction of these species, which is why all Tilapias are considered noxious species in Australia (where O. mossambicus is present) - with heavy fines for any person found with them in possession (live or dead).
Fish Size Common Length:
20-40 cm (8-18 inches), maximum size around 60 cm (24 inches) and 4.5 kg (10 lb).