Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Oreochromis mossambicus
(Mozambique tilapia)

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Datasheet

Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Threatened Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Oreochromis mossambicus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mozambique tilapia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • O. mossambicus is an important food fish and the most widely distributed of the tilapias. The fish is native to the southern and southeastern portions of the African continent, not quite reaching the Cape Regions...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult fish, captive specimen. Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult fish, captive specimen. Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA.
Copyright©Greg Hume - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult fish, captive specimen. Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA.
AdultOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult fish, captive specimen. Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA.©Greg Hume - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult, captive specimen.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult, captive specimen.
Copyright©iStock Images
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult, captive specimen.
AdultOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult, captive specimen.©iStock Images
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult male, ca. 250 mm total length. From the Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult male, ca. 250 mm total length. From the Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult male, ca. 250 mm total length. From the Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
AdultOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); adult male, ca. 250 mm total length. From the Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Chapman River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleHabitat
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Chapman River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Chapman River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
HabitatOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Chapman River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleHabitat
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
HabitatOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); location of an introduced population of O. mossambicus. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); nests of O. mossambicus. Males create the nests by clearing the substrate of debris and aquatic macrophytes. Two fish are visible in the top right of the picture. Gascoyne River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleHabitat and nests
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); nests of O. mossambicus. Males create the nests by clearing the substrate of debris and aquatic macrophytes. Two fish are visible in the top right of the picture. Gascoyne River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); nests of O. mossambicus. Males create the nests by clearing the substrate of debris and aquatic macrophytes. Two fish are visible in the top right of the picture. Gascoyne River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Habitat and nestsOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); nests of O. mossambicus. Males create the nests by clearing the substrate of debris and aquatic macrophytes. Two fish are visible in the top right of the picture. Gascoyne River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male, guarding a nest. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleParental care
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male, guarding a nest. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male, guarding a nest. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Parental careOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male, guarding a nest. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male. While guarding nests, male fish will aggressively strike fishing lures that ente their territory. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleMale
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male. While guarding nests, male fish will aggressively strike fishing lures that ente their territory. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male. While guarding nests, male fish will aggressively strike fishing lures that ente their territory. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
MaleOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); male. While guarding nests, male fish will aggressively strike fishing lures that ente their territory. Gascoyne River, in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); juvenile and subadults. Ccollected by seine net from the Chapman River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
TitleNet catch
CaptionOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); juvenile and subadults. Ccollected by seine net from the Chapman River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); juvenile and subadults. Ccollected by seine net from the Chapman River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.
Net catchOreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia); juvenile and subadults. Ccollected by seine net from the Chapman River in the Indian Ocean drainage region of Western Australia.©Mark Maddern

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters, 1852)

Preferred Common Name

  • Mozambique tilapia

Other Scientific Names

  • Chromis dumerilii Steindachner, 1864
  • Chromis mossambicus Peters, 1852
  • Chromis natalensis Weber, 1897
  • Chromis niloticus (non Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Chromis niloticus mossambicus Peters, 1852
  • Chromis vorax Pfeffer, 1893
  • Cromis mossambicus Peters, 1852
  • Oreochromis mossambica Peters, 1852
  • Oreochromis mozambica (Peters, 1852)
  • Saratherodon mossambica Peters, 1852
  • Sarotherodon mossambicus (Peters, 1852)
  • Tilapia arnoldi Gilchrist & Thompson, 1917
  • Tilapia dumerilii (Steindachner, 1864)
  • Tilapia kafuensis (non Boulenger, 1912)
  • Tilapia mosambica Peters, 1852
  • Tilapia mossambica (Peters, 1852)
  • Tilapia mossambica mossambica (Peters, 1852)
  • Tilapia mossambicus (Peters, 1852)
  • Tilapia natalensis (Weber, 1897)
  • Tilapia vorax (Pfeffer, 1893)

International Common Names

  • English: african mouthbrooder; common tilapia; java tilapia; kurper bream; largemouth kurper; mozambique cichlid; mozambique mouthbrooder; tilapia; tilapia, Mozambique
  • Spanish: mojarra; tilapia del Mozambique; tilapia mozámbica
  • French: tilapia; tilapia du Mozambique
  • Russian: mozambikskaya tilapiya
  • Arabic: boulti
  • Chinese: lou fei; wu-Kuo yu

Local Common Names

  • Cambodia: trey tilapia khmao
  • China/Hong Kong: fai chau chak ue; gam san tsak
  • Fiji: malea
  • Germany: Mosambik-Maulbrüter; Mossambik-Buntbarsch; Weißkehlbarsch
  • India: jelebi meen; jilebi; kolathile-meen; mandapa; thilapia; tilapia
  • Indonesia: Java tilapia; mujair
  • Japan: kawasuzume
  • Kenya: chambo
  • Malawi: mphende
  • Malaysia: tilapia
  • Martinique: lapia
  • Mozambique: nkobue
  • Portugal: tilápia-de-Moçambique
  • South Africa: blou kurper
  • Sri Lanka: tilapia
  • Suriname: tilapia
  • Sweden: mossambique-tilapia
  • Tanzania: chambo

Summary of Invasiveness

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O. mossambicus is an important food fish and the most widely distributed of the tilapias. The fish is native to the southern and southeastern portions of the African continent, not quite reaching the Cape Regions of South Africa. Essentially most of the eastward flowing rivers in east Africa are native habitat. It has been widely introduced for fish farming, insect and weed control, and sport and bait purposes. Such introductions have often been associated with severe environmental change. Tilapia are often described as 'pioneer' species, meaning they thrive in disturbed habitats, opportunistically migrating and reproducing.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Perciformes
  •                         Family: Cichlidae
  •                             Genus: Oreochromis
  •                                 Species: Oreochromis mossambicus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Tilapia is a common name that is now applied to several genera and species of fish that were formerly classified in the genus Tilapia, in the Family Cichlidae. In the reclassification scheme developed by Trewavas (1983) the several hundred species of Tilapia were split into three genera, Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and some remained as Tilapia. The Oreochromis are maternal mouthbrooders, the Sarotherodon are paternal mouthbrooders and the Tilapia are substrate spawners.

Description

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The tilapias have a continuous dorsal fin, three or more anal spines, a single nostril on each side and the lateral line is interrupted.

Distribution

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Mozambique tilapia have been introduced into more than 50 countries on all the continents except Antarctica (Pullin et al., 1997). For further detail on non-indigenous occurrences in the USA see Nico (2011).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Pacific, Western CentralPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CambodiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ChinaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-FujianPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-HainanPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-MacauPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ShandongPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
East TimorPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2011
IndiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IsraelPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JapanPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JordanPresentNativePullin et al., 1997
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
KuwaitPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
LaosPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
LebanonPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MaldivesPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
MyanmarPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
NepalPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
PakistanPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SingaporePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SyriaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
TaiwanPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ThailandPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TurkeyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
United Arab EmiratesPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
VietnamPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
YemenPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
AngolaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
BeninPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
BotswanaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2011
CameroonPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
CongoPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
EgyptPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
EritreaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
KenyaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997
LesothoPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MadagascarPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MalawiPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MayottePresentFroese and Pauly, 2011Questionable
MozambiquePresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
NamibiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
NigeriaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
RéunionPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
RwandaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SenegalPresentFroese and Pauly, 2011Questionable
SeychellesPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
South AfricaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SudanPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SwazilandPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TanzaniaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997
-ZanzibarPresentNativePullin et al., 1997
TunisiaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
UgandaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ZambiaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997
ZimbabwePresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-AlbertaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-OntarioPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MexicoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
USAPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-DelawarePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-FloridaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-IdahoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-IndianaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-IowaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-KansasPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MarylandPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MichiganPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MississippiPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MissouriPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-MontanaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-New YorkPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-OhioPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-OregonPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-TexasPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
BahamasPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
BarbadosPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CubaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
DominicaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GrenadaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2011
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
HaitiPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
HondurasPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JamaicaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MartiniquePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PanamaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
BoliviaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
BrazilPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-BahiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-CearaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
ColombiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
EcuadorPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
ParaguayPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
PeruPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SurinamePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
UruguayPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004

Europe

BelgiumPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
FrancePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
GermanyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; NOBANIS, 2011
HungaryPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
ItalyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MaltaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-Northern RussiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SpainPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
UKPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
AustraliaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Caroline IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
FijiPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2011
GuamPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
KiribatiPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
NauruPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
NiuePresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004; Froese and Pauly, 2011
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
SamoaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
TongaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
TuvaluPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
VanuatuPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004

History of Introduction and Spread

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The Mozambique tilapia was the first tilapia to be widely distributed as a farmed fish. It was transferred to the Island of Java in the 1930s. Its rapid spread and adoption as a popular food across Indonesia led to the common name of Java tilapia as many did not realize it was not native.

Dispersal of the Mozambique tilapia accelerated in the 1940s and 1950s with Japanese occupiers and later post-war reconstruction efforts spreading the fish to several countries in Asia. Sixty individuals were sent from Singapore to Hawaii in 1951. Progeny of these fish were later sent to public aquariums in California and New York, who later shared further progeny with universities and resource agencies in Alabama, Arizona and California. Tilapias are important to aquaculture because of the ease with which they can be bred in captivity and the wide variety of water conditions in which the fish will grow.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hawaii Singapore 1951 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Unknown Yes No Brock (1960); Brock (1960)

Habitat

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Mozambique tilapia will grow in water ranging from acidic (pH of 5) to alkaline (pH of 9). The Mozambique tilapia is also the most saline tolerant of the major farmed tilapia. They can easily be acclimated to full strength seawater. However, viability of eggs and fry is greatly reduced (but not eliminated) in marine water. Tilapia can survive low dissolved oxygen <2 mg/L) and high ammonia levels (50 mg/L) for longer periods than most other fish.

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Mozambique tilapia are maternal mouthbrooders. A female lays her eggs in a simple nest prepared by the male, the male fertilizes the eggs and then the female picks the eggs up and incubates them in her mouth. Even after eggs hatch, fry will remain in the mother’s mouth. Once the fry are free-swimming they will return to her mouth for protection. Females can produce several hundred to more than a thousand young per spawn. The high level of parental care allows breeders to quickly raise thousands of young for directed selection or for stocking into production units. Another advantage is that the adults become sexually mature in less than six months, when they are still a fraction of their potential size. This is an additional advantage for selective breeding, allowing several generations to be produced in the time it takes other fish to reach maturity. The drawback to this high potential for reproduction is that tilapia introduced to new (exotic) locations can quickly spread and impact native fish populations. Likewise in production ponds without predators, tilapia can over-populate ending up with large numbers of small, stunted fish. This can present a serious problem for aquaculturalists who are attempting to rear a large size fish for market. Several methods are used to avoid over-population and stunting including use of predator fish, sex-reversal, reduced fecundity hybrids, and hand removal of females.

Eggs of tilapia are relatively large and fry are hardy and omnivorous. Fry readily feed on a variety of foods including periphyton and phytoplankton (attached and floating algae), zooplankton and powdered feed. This allows the culturist to further manipulate spawning by removing the young from the female and raising them independent of the mother. Removal of fry will encourage the female to begin eating again (she eats little while brooding) and be ready to spawn again in several weeks. Sex of fry can be manipulated in several ways. Undifferentiated sexual organs of juvenile tilapia can be induced to produce phenotypic all male or all female populations. Males grow more rapidly and crops of primarily males will avoid problems associated with unwanted spawning.

Environmental Requirements

In nature, tilapia receive all of their nutrition from algae, higher plants, detrital matter and/or small invertebrates.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 24 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 14 20

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) <0.1 Optimum Adult
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) <0.1 Optimum Broodstock
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) <0.1 Optimum Egg
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) <0.1 Optimum Larval
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) <0.1 Optimum Fry
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.1 Harmful Egg
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.1 Harmful Larval
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.2 Harmful Adult
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.2 Harmful Broodstock
Ammonia [unionised] (mg/l) >0.2 Harmful Fry
Bicarbonate (mg/l) Harmful Fry
Carbon Dioxide (mg/l) <20 Optimum Adult
Carbon Dioxide (mg/l) <20 Optimum Broodstock
Carbon Dioxide (mg/l) >30 Harmful Adult
Carbon Dioxide (mg/l) >30 Harmful Broodstock
Chloride (mg/l) <2000 Optimum Adult
Chloride (mg/l) <2000 Optimum Broodstock
Chloride (mg/l) >5000 Harmful Adult
Chloride (mg/l) >5000 Harmful Broodstock
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Broodstock
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Egg
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) <2 Harmful Fry
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 7 Optimum Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 7 Optimum Broodstock
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 7 Optimum Egg
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 7 Optimum Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 7 Optimum Fry
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) >400 Harmful Adult
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) >400 Harmful Broodstock
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 50 250 Optimum Adult
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 50 250 Optimum Broodstock
Nitrite (mg/l) <0.5 Optimum Adult
Nitrite (mg/l) <0.5 Optimum Broodstock
Nitrite (mg/l) >0.8 Harmful Adult
Nitrite (mg/l) >0.8 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) >10 Harmful Egg
Salinity (part per thousand) >10 Harmful Fry
Salinity (part per thousand) >15 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) >33 Harmful Adult
Salinity (part per thousand) >7 Harmful Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 10 Optimum Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 20 Optimum Adult
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 5 Optimum Egg
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 5 Optimum Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 1 5 Optimum Fry
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) <20 Harmful Broodstock
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) 25 33 Optimum Broodstock
Water pH (pH) <5, >10 Harmful Adult
Water pH (pH) <5.5, >10 Harmful Broodstock
Water pH (pH) <6, >9.5 Harmful Egg
Water pH (pH) <6, >9.5 Harmful Larval
Water pH (pH) <6, >9.5 Harmful Fry
Water pH (pH) 6 8 Optimum Egg
Water pH (pH) 6 8 Optimum Larval
Water pH (pH) 6 8 Optimum Fry
Water pH (pH) 6 9 Optimum Adult
Water pH (pH) 6 9 Optimum Broodstock
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <15 Harmful Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <18 Harmful Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <20 Harmful Broodstock
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <20 Harmful Egg
Water temperature (ºC temperature) <20 Harmful Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 30 Optimum Egg
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 30 Optimum Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 30 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 33 Optimum Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 33 Optimum Broodstock

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escapeReleases or escapes from fish farms, hatcheries and zoos Yes Nico, 2011
Hunting, angling, sport or racingAs a sport fish Yes Yes Nico, 2011
Intentional releaseFor aquatic plant control Yes Yes Nico, 2011

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections Positive
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Positive
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Human health Positive
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism Positive
Trade/international relations Positive
Transport/travel Positive

Environmental Impact

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Introductions of Mozambique tilapia were for farming, insect and weed control, and tuna bait purposes. Tilapia introductions were often associated with severe environmental change, especially construction of reservoirs and large-scale irrigation projects. Tilapia are often described as 'pioneer' species, meaning they thrive in disturbed habitats, opportunistically migrating and reproducing. Often they were introduced into areas that have severe environmental damage where natives were already at risk. The tilapia are better able to adapt to the new conditions and the natives have been forced to contend with environmental changes and competition from exotic species.

Many populations of tilapia are now so well established they are a permanent part of the fish community. However there are some steps that aquaculture operations can take to mitigate any additional harm. The eventual goal should be to develop fully domesticated strains of tilapia that will have little chance of surviving outside a culture setting, in much the same manner as most domestic farm animals. The industry is well on its way with tilapia. Red strains of fish are an important step. Red tilapia are only found in domesticated populations and they have very little chance of surviving in the wild. Predation is high from birds, fish and humans because they are so visible in the water. Strains that have been bred to have very large fillets and a more rounded body form are also unlikely to survive outside a farm. Finally, all male populations, developed from hybrids, sex-reversal or genetically male parentage, are less likely to be able to establish a breeding population off farm. All of these techniques should be considered as contributing to the reduction of the ability of tilapia to impact native communities.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Metabetaeus lohena (anchialine snapping shrimp)No DetailsHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014a
Palaemonella burnsi (anchialine pool shrimp)No DetailsHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014b
Procaris hawaiana (anchialine pool shrimp)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014c

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Predation

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Bait/attractant

Environmental

  • Biological control

General

  • Sport fish

Human food and beverage

  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)

References

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Alceste CC, Conroy G, 2002. Important diseases in modern tilapia culture. Aquaculture Magazine 28(3):59-64.

Avtalion RR, Shlapobersky M, 1994. A whirling disease of tilapia larvae. Israeli Journal of Aquaculture, 46(2):102-104.

Brock VE, 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. Internationale Revue der Gesamten hydrobiology, 45(4):463-480.

Chen SN, Kou GH, Hedrick RP, Fryer JL, 1985. The occurrence of viral infections of fish in Taiwan. In: Ellis AE, ed. Fish and Shellfish Pathology. New York: Academic Press, 313-319.

Froese R, Pauly D, 2004. FishBase DVD. Penang, Malaysia: Worldfish Center. Online at www.fishbase.org.

Froese R, Pauly D, 2011. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Nico L, 2011. Oreochromis mossambicus. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=466

NOBANIS, 2011. North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. http://www.nobanis.org/

Paperna I, 1973. Lymphocystis in fish from East African lakes. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 9(No.4):331-335.

Plumb JA, 1997. Infectious diseases of tilapia. In: Costa-Pierce BA, Rakocy JE, eds. Tilapia Aquaculture in the Americas. Vol. 1. Baton Rouge, LA: World Aquaculture Society, 212-228.

Pullin RS, Palmares ML, Casal CV, Dey MM, Pauly D, 1997. Environmental impacts of tilapias. In: Fitzsimmons K, ed. Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Tilapia in Aquaculture. Ithaca, NY, USA: Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, 554-572.

Trewavas E, 1983. Tilapiine fishes of the genera Sarotherodon, Oreochromis and Danakilia. London, UK: British Museum of Natural History, 583 pp.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Metabetaeus lohena. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/K037_I01.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Palaemonella burnsi. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/K03A_I01.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014. In: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Procaris hawaiana. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r1/K03B_I01.pdf

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
American Tilapia Associationhttp://cals.arizona.edu/azaqua/ata.html
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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Main Author
Kevin Fitzsimmons
University of Arizona, Environmental Research Lab, Soil, Water & Environ Sci Dept, 2601 E. Airport Dr, Tucson, AZ 85706, USA

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