Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Cichlidae
(Cichlids) > Pseudocrenilabrinae
Etymology: Tilapia: Bechuana, African native thiape = fish (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; depth range 3 - 8 m (Ref. 58302). Tropical; 24°C - 28°C (Ref. 2059); 20°N - 20°S
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 17.7  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 45.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26550); max. published weight: 2.5 kg (Ref. 26550); max. reported age: 7 years (Ref. 7248)
(total): 15 - 17;
soft rays: 9 - 10;
Vertebrae: 29. Head and body mid to dark olive-green dorsally, paling over the flanks. Body usually with vertical bars only and scales with a dark basal crescent. Dorsal fin olive-green with a thin red margin and white to grey dark oblique spots on the soft rays; caudal fin spotted on dorsal half and red or yellow on ventral half (Ref. 4967, 34290).
Africa: Kasai drainage (middle Congo River basin), throughout upper Congo River drainage, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi, Zambesi, coastal areas from Zambesi Delta to Natal, Okavango and Cunene (Ref. 5163). Also in the Limpopo (Ref. 55074). Introduced elsewhere usually for weed control and aquaculture. Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction.
Prefer quiet, well-vegetated water along river littorals or backwaters, floodplains and swamps. Tolerant of a wide range of temperature (8-41°C) (Ref. 3) and salinity to 19 ppt (Ref. 7248). Form schools; is mainly diurnal. Juveniles feed on plankton. Adults feed mainly on higher plants and also algae, insects and crustaceans. Make excellent eating (Ref. 5214).
Prefers a sloping spawning ground near the marginal fringe of vegetation (Ref. 3). Builds nest in shallow water where both parents guard the eggs and young.
Teugels, G.G. and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde, 1991. Tilapia. p. 482-508. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse, G.G. Teugels and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 4. (Ref. 5163)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01950 (0.01536 - 0.02474), b=2.96 (2.92 - 3.00), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 2.3 ±0.1 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.13-0.18; tmax=7).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (27 of 100) .