You can sponsor this page

Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Nile tilapia
Upload your photos and videos
Pictures | Stamps, Coins Misc. | Google image

Philippines country information

Common names: Nile tilapia, Pla pla, Tilapia
Occurrence: introduced
Salinity: freshwater
Abundance: common (usually seen) | Ref:
Importance: highly commercial | Ref:
Aquaculture: commercial | Ref: FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Service, 1993
Regulations: | Ref:
Uses: live export: yes;
Comments: Introduced in 1970. Reintroduced in 1972 from Thailand (Ref. 6096) and in 1973 from Israel (Ref. 1739). Widely cultured throughout the country especially in Laguna de Bay (Ref. 80824) area in Manila and in Central Luzon. Recorded from Candaba Swamp and Pampanga River (Ref. 109918). May have played a part in the extinction of cyprinids in Lake Lanao, Mindanao (Ref. 10888). Introduced to Lake Mainit (Ref. 4867, 50320, 13446, 81829). Found in Kalinawan River (Ref. 81829). Introduced to Taal Lake, stocked from fingerlings, and had escaped from the cages (Ref. 12165). No adverse impact on indigenous species in Taal lake has been reported (Ref. 27799,81207,13446). Specimens were collected in 1993 from Ambacan River at Makinhas and Butigan, Leyte (Ref. 7223). Reported from San Miguel Bay (Ref. 45161), Panguil Bay (Ref. 47691), Lake Lanao (Ref. 13446, 95183) and Lake Naujan (Ref. 13446, 81887). Abundant in Lake Manguao, Taytay, Palawan in a 2003 study; both an omnivore and planktivore (Ref. 50862). Cultured in reservoirs (Ambuklao, Angat, Binga, Caliraya, and Lumot (Ref. 13464). Collected from CLSU fish pond, Nueva Ecija as specimen for living fish museum.(Ref. 81820). Also recorded from Pampanga River, Paitan Lake, Pantabangan Dam, Tabuating River and Talavera River (Nueva Ecija) (Ref. 109918). Museum specimens collected in 1984 from various localities, LRS-84131(Ref. 13460). Also Ref. 1739, 9987, 58652.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Juliano, R.O., R.D. Guerrero III and I. Ronquillo, 1989
National Database:

Common names from other countries

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Cichliformes (Cichlids, convict blennies) > Cichlidae (Cichlids) > Pseudocrenilabrinae
Etymology: Oreochromis: Latin, aurum = gold + Greek, chromis = a fish, perhaps a perch (Ref. 45335);  niloticus: From "Filhoa" = the Amharic word for "hot spring" (Ref. 2).
  More on author: Linnaeus.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 20 m (Ref. 32849), usually ? - 20 m (Ref. 34290).   Tropical; 14°C - 33°C (Ref. 3); 32°N - 5°S, 17°W - 38°E

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Africa: naturally occurring in coastal rivers of Israel (Ref. 5166), Nile basin (including lake Albert, Edward and Tana), Jebel Marra, Lake Kivu, Lake Tanganyika, Awash River, various Ethiopian lakes, Omo River system, Lake Turkana, Suguta River and Lake Baringo (Ref. 2). In West Africa natural distribution covers the basins of the Senegal, Gambia, Volta, Niger, Benue and Chad, with introduced specimens reported from various coastal basins (Ref. 53405). Widely introduced for aquaculture, with many existing strains. Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction. The following subspecies were previously recognized: Oreochromis niloticus baringoensis, Oreochromis niloticus cancellatus, Oreochromis niloticus eduardianus, Oreochromis niloticus filoa, Oreochromis niloticus niloticus, Oreochromis niloticus sugutae, Oreochromis niloticus tana and Oreochromis niloticus vulcani.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 18.6, range 6 - 28 cm
Max length : 60.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4967); max. published weight: 4.3 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 9 years (Ref. 164)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 15 - 18; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11-13; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 9 - 11; Vertebrae: 30 - 32. Diagnosis: A large deep-bodied tilapia, with a relatively small head (Ref. 118638). Jaws of mature male not greatly enlarged, length of lower jaw 29-37% of head length; genital papilla of breeding male not tassellated (Ref. 2). Body depth 36-50% of SL (Ref. 28714). Most distinguishing characteristic is the presence, at all life stages, of regular vertical stripes throughout depth of caudal fin (Ref. 4967, 53405, 118638). In smaller fishes, these are relatively wide and form an arc, and start at the base of the caudal fin (Ref. 118638). Males are bluish pink, sometimes with a dark throat, belly, anal and pelvic fins; females are usually brownish, silvery/white beneath with around 10 thin vertical bars (Ref. 118638).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Occurs in a wide variety of freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes, sewage canals and irrigation channels (Ref. 28714). Does not do well in pure salt water, but is able to survive in brackish water (Ref. 52307). Mainly diurnal. Feeds mainly on phytoplankton or benthic algae. Additionally, insect larvae are of some importance, as are aufwuchs and detritus; juveniles tend to be more omnivorous than adults (Ref. 52307). Oviparous (Ref. 205), ovophilic (Ref. 52307). A maternal mouthbrooder (Ref. 2, 28714, 52307, 118638), males dig simple pits in shallow water (Ref. 118638). May mature early (about 11 cm TL females, 14 cm TL males) (Ref. 28714). Globally, the most important tilapia species in fish farming and supports major capture fisheries where established; generally highly invasive and known to hybridise with many other Oreochromis species and for this reason further stocking has been banned in a number of countries, e.g. South Africa, Malawi and Zambia (Ref. 118638). Extended temperature range 8-42 °C, natural temperature range 13.5 - 33 °C (Ref. 3). Maximum depth from Ref. 34290. Marketed fresh and frozen (Ref. 9987).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Sexual maturity is reached at 3-6 months depending on temperature, reaching about 30 g. Reproduction occurs only when temperatures are over 20°C. Several yearly spawnings every 30 days. Females incubate eggs inside their mouths (approximately for a week) where larvae hatch and remain until the vitellus is reabsorved. Egg size 1.5 mm, larval length at hatching 4 mm. Spawns in firm sand in water from 0.6 to 2 m deep of lakes (Ref. 2) and inshore waters (Ref. 55624). Males set up and defend territory which are visited by the females. Courtship lasts several hours. A single male probably fertilises the eggs of more than one female (Ref. 55624). Eggs are shed in batches in shallow nest and fertilized by male. Each batch of eggs is picked up into oral cavity by female. Females solely involved in broodcare. Female carries up to 200 eggs in her mouth where the larvae hatch and remain until after the yolk-sac is absorbed.

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Kullander, Sven O. | Collaborators

Trewavas, E., 1983. Tilapiine fishes of the genera Sarotherodon, Oreochromis and Danakilia. British Mus. Nat. Hist., London, UK. 583 p. (Ref. 2)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 06 April 2020

CITES (Ref. 128078)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Potential pest

Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial
FAO(Aquaculture: production, species profile; Fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FishSource |


Special reports

Download XML

Internet sources

Estimates based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01905 (0.01589 - 0.02285), b=2.97 (2.93 - 3.01), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  2.0   ±0.0 se; based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.14-0.41; tm=1-2; tmax=9; Fec < 1,000).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (30 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.