Blue tilapia

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Blue Tilapia

Scientific name

Oreochromis aureus

FAMILY

Cichlidae

LENGTH

8 to 20 inches

DIET

Green algae, diatoms, small invertebrates

FISH PROFILE

COMMON NAME

Blue Tilapia

Scientific name

Oreochromis aureus

FAMILY

Cichlidae

LENGTH

8 to 20 inches

DIET

Green algae, diatoms, small invertebrates

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

Tilapia can be easily identified by an interrupted lateral line. They are laterally compressed and deep-bodied with long dorsal fins. The body and mouth of tilapia are shaped much like Sunfish or Crappie. The Blue tilapia male has bright blue head, pale blue sides, and a blue-black chin and chest. While their maximum length is around 20 inches, they usually reach a length of about 8 inches and can weigh anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds. The female Mozambique and Blue tilapias look very similar; however, the Mozambique is slightly smaller and is only found in coastal waters south of Titusville, Florida. Generally freshwater tilapia will be blue-grey in color.

RANGE, HABITAT, and BEHAVIOR

Tilapia are widespread and abundant in Florida and typically prefer canals, ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, and sometimes springs. Sensitivity to salinity varies greatly between species, and some species of tilapia can fully tolerate saltwater in marine environments. Tilapia feed primarily on plankton and small organisms living in or on bottom detritus. The most common food consumed by tilapia are green algae, diatoms, and small invertebrates.

FUN FACTS

Tilapia are best known as a successful aquaculture fish. The use of tilapia in warm-water aquaculture systems dates back to early Egyptian civilization. Blue tilapia are able to reproduce in fresh and brackish water. The etymology of the species Oreochromis aureus: Oreochromis comes from the Greek words oreos meaning “of the mountains”, and chroma meaning “color”. Aureus stems from the Latin word aurum meaning “gold”.

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