Oreochromis aureus - Blue Tilapia


Information Last Reviewed Spring 2007




General Biology

Life Cycle

Habitat Characteristics





Web Sites






Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Cichlidae









Juvenile Morphology


Adult Morphology


Distinguishing Characteristics 

Blue tilapia is unlikely to be confused with native North American species but is similar to other introduced cichlids (Mossambique tilapia, Tilapia mossambica and Redbelly tilapia, T. zilli).




General Biology:











Life Cycle:














Habitat Characteristics:


Preferred Environment








Water Quality






Native Range

Israel, Lower Nile, West Africa image\30.jpg


North American Distribution



Probable Means of Introduction














Control Measures






  1. Ben-Tuvia, A. 1959. The biology of the cichlid fishes of Lake Tiberias and Huleh. Bull. Res. Coun. Israel. B. Zool. 8B, No. 4 :153-188 (reprinted as Bull. Sea. Fish. Res. Sta. Israel No. 27, 1960).


  1. Binhe, G., C.L. Schelske, and M.V. Hoyer. 1997. Intrapopulation feeding diversity in blue tilapia: Evidence from stable-isotope analyses. Ecology 78(7):2263-2266.


  1. Buchanan, T.M., J. Smith, D. Saul, J. Farwick, T. Burnley, M. Oliver, and K. Shirley. New Arkansas records for two nonindigenous fish species, with a summary of previous introductions of nonnative fishes in Arkansas. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 54(2000):143-145.


  1. Buntz, J. and C.S. Manooch, III. 1968. Tilapia aurea (Steindachner), a rapidly spreading exotic in south central Florida. Proceedings of the Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 22:495-501.


  1. Chervinski, J. 1982. Environmental physiology of tilapias, p. 119-128. In R.S.V. Pullin and R.H. Lowe-McConnell (eds.) The biology and culture of tilapias ICLARM Conference Proceedings 7, 432 p. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines.


  1. Chervinski, J. and M. Zorn. 1974. Note on the growth of Tilapia aurea (Steindachner) and Tilapia zillii (Gervais) in sea-water ponds. Aquaculture 1:249-255.


  1. Chervinski, J., and M. Lahav. 1976. The effect of exposure to low temperature on fingerlings of local tilapia (Tilapia aurea) (Steindachner) and imported tilapia (Tilapia vulcani) (Trewevas) and Tilapia nilotica (Linne) in Israel. Bamidgeh 28(1/2):25-29.


  1. Courtenay, W.R., Jr., H.F. Sahlman, W.W. Miley, II, and D.J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.


  1. Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1986. Distribution of exotic fishes in North America. Pages 675-698 in C.H. Hocutt, and E.O. Wiley, editors. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.


  1. Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.D. Williams. 1992. Dispersal of exotic species from aquaculture sources, with emphasis on freshwater fishes. p. 49-81 in A. Rosenfield, and R. Mann, (eds). Dispersal of living organisms into aquatic ecosystems. Maryland Sea Grant Publication, College Park, MD.


  1. Crittenden, E. 1965. Status of Tilapia nilotica (Linneaus) in Florida. Proceedings of the Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 16(1962):257-262.


  1. Edwards, R.J. and S. Contreras-Balderas. 1991. Historical changes in the ichthyofauna of the lower Rio Grande (Rio Brova del Norte), Texas and Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist 36(2):201-212.


  1. Grabowski, S.J., S.D. Hiebert, and D.M. Lieberman. 1984. Potential for introduction of three species of nonnative fishes into central Arizona via the Central Arizona Project. A literature review and analysis. REC-ERC-84-7. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO.


  1. Hale, M.M., J.E. Crumpton and R.J. Schuler, Jr. 1995. From sportfishing bust to commercial fishing boon: A history of the blue tilapia in Florida. American Fisheries Society Symposium 15:425-430.


  1. Hendricks, M.K. and R.L. Noble. 1980. Feeding interactions of three planktivorous fishes in Trinidad Lake, Texas. Proceedings of the Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 33(1979):324-330.


  1. Kushlan, J.A. 1986. Exotic fishes of the Everglades: a reconsideration of proven impact. Environmental Conservation 13:67-69.


  1. McBay, L.G. 1961. The Biology of Tilapia nilotica Linnaeus. Proceedings of the Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners 15:208-218.


  1. Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p.


  1. Payne, A.I. and R.I. Collinson. 1983. A comparison of the biological characteristics of Sarotherodon niloticus (L.) with those of S. aureus (Steindachner) and other tilapia of the delta and lower Nile. Aquaculture 30:335-351.


  1. Philippart, J-Cl. And J-Cl. Ruwet. 1982. Ecology and distribution of tilipias, p. 15-59 in R.S.V. Pullin and R.H. Lowe-McConnell (eds.) The biology and culture of tilapias. ICLARM Conference Proceedings 7, 432 p. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines.


  1. Pigg, J. 1978. The tilapia Sarotherodon aurea (Steindachner) in the North Canadian River in central Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 58:111-112.


  1. Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea and W.B. Scott. 1991. World fishes important to North America. Exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 21:243 p.


  1. Scoppettone, G.G., P.H. Rissler, M.B. Nielsen, and J.E. Harvey. 1998. The status of Moapa coriacea and Gila seminude and status information on other fishes of the Muddy River, Clark County, Nevada. The Southwestern Naturalist 43(2):115-122.


  1. Shafland, P.L. 1979. Non-native fish introductions with special reference to Florida. Fisheries 4(3):18-23.


  1. Shafland, P.L. and J.M. Pestrak. 1982. Lower lethal temperatures for fourteen non-native fishes in Florida. Environmental Biology of Fishes 7(2):149-156.


  1. Spataru, P., and M. Zorn. 1978. Food and feeding habits of Tilapia aurea (Steindachner) (Cichlidae) in Lake Kinneret (Israel). Aquaculture 13:67-79.


  1. Stauffer, J.R., S.E. Boltz, and J.M. Boltz. 1988. Cold shock susceptibility of blue tilapia from the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 8:329-332.


  1. Stickney, R.R., L.O. Rowland and J.H. Hesby. 1977. Water quality- Tilapia aurea interactions in ponds receiving swine and poultry wastes. Proceedings of the World Mariculture Society 8:55-71.


  1. Taylor, J.N., W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.A. McCann. 1984. Known impacts of exotic fishes in the continental United States, p. 322-373 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. Distribution, Biology and Management of Exotic Fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore.


  1. Trewevas, E. 1983. Tilapiine Fishes of the Genera Sarotherodon, Oreochromis and Danakilia. British Museum of Natural History, Publ. Num. 878. Comstock Publishing Associates. Ithaca, New York. 583 pp.


  1. Welcomme, R.L. 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. No. 294. 318 p.


  1. Zale, A.V. 1987. Periodicity of habitation of a stenothermal spring run in North-Central Florida by blue tilapia. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 7:575-579.


  1. Zale, A.V., and R.W. Gregory. 1990. Food selection by early life stages of blue tilapia, Oreochromis aureus, in Lake George, Florida: overlap with sympatric shad larvae. Florida Scientist 53:123-129.


Additional Literature

Burgess, G.H., C.R. Gilbert, V. Guillory, and D.C. Taphorn. 1977. Distributional notes on some north Florida freshwater fishes. Florida Scientist 40(1):33-41.


Cnaani, A., G.A.E Gall, G. Hulata. 2000. Cold tolerance of tilapia species and hybrids. Aquaculture International 8(4):289-298.


Foote, K.J. 1977. Annual performance report: Blue tilapia investigations. Study I: Preliminary status investigations of blue tilapia. (Job I-1 through Job I-7; period July 6, 1976-June 30, 1977). Report to the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 71 pp.


Hogg, R.G. 1976. Established exotic cichlid fishes in Dade County, Florida. Florida Scientist 39(2): 97-103.


Hubbs, C., T. Lucier, G.P. Garett, R. J. Edwards, S. M. Dean, and E. Marsh. 1978. Survival and abundance of introduced fishes near San Antonio, Texas. The Texas Journal of Science 30(4):369-376.


Langford, F.H., F.J. Ware, and R.D. Gasaway. 1978. Status and harvest of introduced Tilapia aurea in Florida lakes. Pages 102-108 in R. O. Smitherman, W.L. Shelton, J.H. Grover, editors. Proceedings of the culture of exotic fishes symposium, fish culture section, American Fisheries Society, Auburn, AL.


Muoneke, M.I. 1988. Tilapia in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Inland Fisheries Data Series 9, Austin.


Noble, R.L., and R.D. Germany. 1986. Changes in fish populations of Trinidad Lake, Texas, in response to abundance of blue tilapia. Pages 455-461 in R. H. Stroud, editor. Fish culture in fisheries management. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.


Pelgren, D.W., and K.D. Carlander. 1971. Growth and reproduction of yearling Tilapia aurea in Iowa ponds. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 78:27-29.


Skinner, W.F. 1984. Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner; Cichlidae), an exotic fish species, accidentally introduced to the lower Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 58:99-100.


Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1968. Freshwater Fishes of Alabama. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. 211 pp.


Swift, C.C., T.R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R.N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Science 92(3):101-167.


Zuckerman, L.D., and R.J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435-452 in R. H. Stroud, editor. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31-April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.




Web Sites:


Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission:



Fish Base:



USGS Nonindigenous Species Program: