Actinopteri (ray-finned fishes) > Cichliformes
(Cichlids, convict blennies) > Cichlidae
(Cichlids) > Pseudocrenilabrinae
Etymology: Tilapia: Bechuana, African native thiape = fish (Ref. 45335).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; benthopelagic; pH range: 7.0 - ? ; dH range: 10 - ?; potamodromous; depth range 5 - ? m (Ref. 3). Tropical; 22°C - 25°C (Ref. 2059); 10°S - 30°S
Africa: middle Congo River basin in the Kwilu (Ref. 11970), Kwango, Kasai drainage (Ref. 11970, 55074) and Lomami (Ref. 106245); upper Congo River basin including the Lualaba, upper Lualaba, Lufira, Upemba region, Luvua, Lake Mweru, Luapula (Ref. 55074) and Bangweulu (Ref. 5163, 95585); Cunene, Okavango, Lake Ngami, Zambezi, Limpopo, northern tributaries of the Orange River (Ref. 5163, 11970), Cuvelai (Ref. 120641), upper Cuanza, Sabi, Lundi and Lake Malawi (Ref. 5163).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 23.5 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 27292); max. published weight: 445.00 g (Ref. 7248)
(total): 13 - 15. Diagnosis: A small, deep-bodied species with a narrow head and small strong jaws (Ref. 118638). Often appearing a rich deep yellow with wide dark brown bands, and red/orange fin margins; mature adults are very dark with prominent black stripes and a patch of scarlet scales behind the head (Ref. 118638).
Found in widely diverse habitat (Ref. 3); it favors areas where plant cover exists along the edges of rivers, lakes or swamps (Ref. 3), but tends to be confined to shallow weedy areas, so it does not build up large populations in deep lakes (Ref. 118638). It is reported to be cold-confined (Ref. 118638). Adults are omnivorous, feeding on animal and plant matter (Ref. 118638), preferentially on filamentous algae, aquatic macrophytes and vegetable matter of terrestrial origin like leaves, plants, etc. (Ref. 3). Juveniles feed on small crustaceans and midge larvae (Ref. 6465). It is forage fish for bass (Ref. 7248). A substrate spawner (Ref. 52307, 118638). Male and female form pairs to rear the young (Ref. 118638). It undertakes seasonal upstream migration and breeds before and during these migrations (Ref. 13337, 52307). A relatively small species, so unlikely to play much of a role in capture fisheries, but cultured in ponds in Njombe, Tanzania, and apparently stocked into Lake Kiungululu, Tanzania, where it is not presently exploited (Ref. 118638).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
A substrate spawner (Ref. 118638). Male spreads his milt over the cluster of eggs which are deposited on the bottom or even attached to the branches of aquatic weeds; parents guard the eggs; eggs and fry may be moved into the mouth to alternative sites during hatching operations but there is no evidence of actual mouth brooding (Ref. 13337).
Teugels, G.G. and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde, 1991. Tilapia. p. 482-508. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse, G.G. Teugels and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 4. (Ref. 5163)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 123251)
CITES (Ref. 123416)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: subsistence fisheries; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5078 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01445 (0.00811 - 0.02576), b=2.93 (2.78 - 3.08), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species & (Sub)family-body (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 2.7 ±0.28 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (Assuming K>0.3; tm=1).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (14 of 100) .