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Tilapia Aquaculture

Tilapia is  the common 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. For many years these factors combined 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 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.  Farm raised tilapia now has a very good reputation, sometimes selling for more than wild caught salmon.

The natural or wild type tilapia usually appears black or dark grey.  But through selective breeding, there are now several pinkish-red and bluish-white hybrids of tilapia that are on the market. These colors on both the skin and flesh liningc immediately distinguished these farm raised tilapia from the usually black or gray wild types. But varying production techniques meant the consumer did not always receive consistent quality from farm raised 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, and Whole Foods are just a few of the larger tilapia processors and distributors 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 Aqua-culture, Inc. ships live tilapia worldwide.  Males grow faster than females and are preferred for food fish production.  The three ways to select for male populations are to:

    1) Remove slower growing fish after 2 months in the nursery stage

    2) Add testosterone hormones to the feed in the first month only, resulting in sex reversal of females to males.

    3) Use YY technology or "supermales" to produce 95% male populations without the use of hormones.

Miami Aqua-culture, Inc. offers books, feeds, consulting and equipment to assist the tilapia farmer.

Live Tilapia Prices

Fast growing, great fillet yield but usually dark colored fish.

  • Sex reversed all male fry, $0.45 per inch, minimum 1,000.

  • Sex reversed all male fry,  $0.39 per inch, minimum 50,000

  • Mixed sex fingerlings, 1", $1.00 each, minimum 150.

  • Broodstock adults, 100+ grams, $40 each

Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, pureline
Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, pink variant

Red variant, pureline. Fast growing and great fillet yield.

  • Sex reversed all male fry, $0.50 per inch, minimum 1,000.

  • Sex reversed all male fry,  $0.45 per inch, minimum 50,000

  • Mixed sex fingerlings, 1", $1.00 each, minimum 150.

  • Broodstock adults, 100+ grams, $40 each

Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, GIFT strain

First developed in Asia, this strain is now available in the USA and worldwide.  Under good conditions this strain reportedly reaches 700 grams in 5 months.  Available in the natural dark color only, as either mixed sex fingerlings or broodstock adults.

  • Broodstock adults, $40 each

  • Broodstock fingerlings, $2.50 each

Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, YY male sets

YY Supermale breeding sets.  These are specially produced male T. nilotica with a double Y chromosome instead of the normal XY chromosome.  

  • Available in red variant T. nilotica or natural dark T. nilotica only.

  • Each set is 1 YY male fingerling (about 1 gram) plus 7 mixed sex fingerlings to produce more females.

  • YY males mated to normal XX females produce normal XY males without the use of hormones.

  • 1-50 sets are $65 per set.

  • 51-200 sets are $54 per set

  • For larger quantities, please request a quote.

Tilapia (Oreochromis) nilotica, hybrid

The Rocky Mountain White hybrid is a cross between T. nilotica and T. aurea.  This hybrid combines the rapid growth and good fillet yield of T. nilotica with the cold tolerance of T. aurea.  There are other similar hybrids in Japan and Israel.  But the Rocky Mountain White has a white-blue color on both the skin and the fillet lining that makes it very appealing.

  • Mixed sex fingerlings are $1.00 each

  • Broodstock adults, 100+ grams, $40 each

Tilapia (Oreochromis) aurea, pureline

Also sometime called Blue Tilapia, T. aurea has better cold tolerance than some of the other species we sell.  If done slowly, it can acclimate and survive in the upper 50's Fahrenheit temperature range.  Like all tilapia, the ideal growth temperature is in the 80's.  Growth is generally slower than T. nilotica, and it becomes sexually mature at a smaller, younger age.  Blue tilapia can filter feed on microalgae in the sediment or "green water".  They are popular in Florida as an addition to aquaponics operations.  In much of Florida, no permit is required to keep them.

  • Mixed sex fingerlings are $1.00 each

  • Broodstock adults, 100+ grams, $35 each

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