Oreochromis niloticus - Nile 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 

Nile tilapia is unlikely to be confused with native North American species but is similar to and has historically been confused with blue tilapia, Oreochromis aureus.




General Biology:











Life Cycle:














Habitat Characteristics:


Preferred Environment












Native Range

Tropical and subtropical Africa, Israel


North American Distribution



Probable Means of Introduction














Control Measures






  1. Beamish, F.W.H. 1970. Influence of temperature and salinity acclimation on temperature preferenda of the euryhaline fish T. nilotica. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 27(7):1209-1214.


  1. Duponchelle, F. and J. Panfili. 1998. Variation in age and size at maturity of female Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, populations from man-made lakes of Cote D’Ivoire. Environmental Biology of Fishes 52:453-165.


  1. Duponchelle, F., P. Cecchi, D. Corbin, J. Nunez and M. Legendre. 2000. Variations in fecundity and egg size of female Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, from man-made lakes of Cote D’Ivoire. Environmental Biology of Fishes 57:155-170.


  1. El-Zarka, S., A.H, Shaheen, and A.A. Aleem. 1970. Tilapia fishery in Lake Mariut: Age and growth of Tilapia nilotica in the lake. Bulletin of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries 1:149-182.


  1. Fish, G.R. 1955. The food of Tilapia in East Africa. Uganda Journal 19(1):85-89.


  1. Fishelson, L. 1967. Cichlidae of the genus Tilapia in Israel. Bamidgeh 18:67-80.


  1. Fuller, P.L., L.G. Nico, and J.D. Williams. 1999. Nonindigenous Fishes Introduced into Inland Waters of the United States American Fisheries Society Special Publication Number 27.


  1. Gwahaba, J.J. 1978. The biology of cichlid fishes (Teleostei) in an equatorial lake (Lake George, Uganda). Archives of Hydrobiology 83:538-551.


  1. Hanon, L. 1975. Adaptations morphologiques et comportementales a l’incubation buccales chez les poisons cichlides: oeufs et alvins. Annales de la Societe Royale Zoologique de Belgique 105:169-192.



  1. Kirk, R.G. 1972. A review of the recent developments in tilapia culture with special reference to fish farming in the heated effluents of power stations. Aquaculture 1:45-60.


  1. Latif, A.F.A. and M.M. Rashid. 1972. Studies on Tilapia nilotica from Lake Nasser. I. Macroscopic characters of gonads. Bulletin of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries 215-238.


  1. Magid, A. and M.M. Babiker. 1975. Oxygen consumption and respiratory behavior of three Nile fishes. Hydrobiologia 46:359-367.


  1. Moyle, P.B. and L.H. Davis. 2000. A list of freshwater, anadromous and euryhaline fishes of California. California Fish and Game 86(4):244-258.


  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. Shireman, J.V. 1984. Control of aquatic weeds with exotic fishes. p. 302-312 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. Turner, G.F. and R.L. Robinson. 2000. Reproductive biology, mating systems and parental care, p. 33-58 in M.C.M. Beveridge and B.J. McAndrew (eds.) Tilapias: Biology and Exploitation. Kluwer Academic Press, Great Britain.


  1. Yashouv, A. 1958. Biological data on Tilapia galilaea and Tilapia nilotica in fish ponds. Bamidgeh 10:46-52.


Additional Literature


Axelrod, H.R. 1993. The most complete colored lexicon of cichlids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.


Axelrod, H.R., W.E. Burgess, N. Pronek, and J. G. Walls. 1985. Dr. Axelrod's atlas of freshwater aquarium fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.


Boschung, H.T. 1992. Catalogue of freshwater and marine fishes of Alabama. Alabama Museum of Natural History Bulletin 14:1-266.


Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. Range expansion in southern Florida of the introduced spotted tilapia, with comments on environmental impress. Environmental Conservation 6(2):149-151.


Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. Pages 41-77 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.


de Moor, I.J., and M.N. Bruton. 1988. Atlas of alien and translocated indigenous aquatic animals in southern Africa. South African National Scientific Programmes Report 144. Foundation for Research Development and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa.


Eccles, D.H. 1992. FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes: Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy. 145 pp.


Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.


Muoneke, M.I. 1988. Tilapia in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Inland Fisheries Data Series 9, Austin, TX. 44 pp.


Peterson, M.S., W.T. Slack and C.M. Woodley. 2002. Influence of tilapiine fishes on freshwater fishes in south Mississippi. Final Report to Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. Report number 219




Web Sites:


Fish Base:



USGS Nonindigenous Species Program: