Miami Aqua-culture, Inc.
Tilapia is both the common and scientific name for a group of amazing fish native to Africa. Ancient Egyptian paintings show tilapia culture in earthen ponds as much as 5,000 years ago. From a culture point of view, they are very tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. They accept crowding well. Tilapia can utilize a variety of feeds from green water to pig manure to specially mixed pellet feeds. They reproduce easily, and at a prolific rate. Different species of tilapia, each with its own advantages and shortcomings, can be easily interbred to create designer hybrids. For these and many more reasons, several groups such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and USAID have introduced tilapia to tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The tilapia, as a group, are now probably the most frequently cultured aquatic species in the world.
From a marketing point of view, the widespread introduction of tilapia as a food fish in developing countries has actually impaired the growth of the tilapia farming industry. "Wild" populations of introduced fish show large numbers of mostly younger / smaller fish. Depending on what they have found to eat, the meat flavor may also be highly variable. These factors combine to give "wild" tilapia a reputation as a "trash fish", driving down all tilapia prices.
The industry responded initially by trying to market tilapia under different names. Cherry Snapper, Lemon Snapper, St. Peter's fish, and Nile Perch were some of the names under which these farmed fish were sold to try and distance themselves from wild tilapia. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began to frown on this practice under its truth in labeling laws.
Several red varieties and hybrids of tilapia then appeared on the market; Florida Red, Taiwan Red, Jamaican Red, etc. The pinkish red color immediately distinguished them from the usually black or gray wild types. But varying production techniques meant the consumer did not always receive consistent quality from fish that looked the same.
In recent years the trend has been to build consumer confidence through brand name recognition. Rain Forest Aquaculture, Regal Springs, Jamaica Broilers, and Aquacorp de Honduras are just a few of the larger tilapia processors that use their name (and strict quality control) as a guarantee of quality.
Smaller U.S. farmers that do not have a well known brand name are increasingly targeting the profitable niche markets of live tilapia sales. Interestingly, these buyers are usually ethnic groups such as Israelis, Chinese, Filipinos, and Southeast Asians who recognize tilapia as a "native" fish from their homeland! Buying it live, at a premium price, is their guarantee of quality and freshness.
Tilapia consumption has increased dramatically, and has gained a foothold in the U.S. and European markets. The challenge to the serious investor will be to create faster growing varieties, better engineered production systems and new value-added products to make tilapia more available to more consumers.
Miami Aquaculture, Inc. can assist the tilapia farmer at many levels:
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Tilapia (Oreochromis) mossambica, pureline. Red variety, excellent saltwater tolerance, but slower growth and poor body shape for fillets.
Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, pureline. Fast growing, great fillet yield but usually dark colored fish.
Tilapia nilotica, red variant
Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, Red variant, pureline. Fast growing and great fillet yield.
Tilapia (Oreochromis) aurea. Good cold tolerance. Can be cultured without a restricted species permit in much of Florida.
Tilapia aurea x nilotica hybrid, Rocky Mountain White
Hybrid aurea x nilotica. Considered the fastest growing hybrid. Usually a dark colored hybrid, the Rocky Mountain White variety is light colored with white fillets
Tilapia (Oreochromis) hornorum. A dark tilapia usually purchased only for cross breeding to T. mossambica, producing mostly male offspring without hormones.
YY Supermale breeding sets. These are specially produced male T. nilotica with a double Y chromosome instead of the normal XY chromosome.
Naturally Male Tilapia (NMT) .
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