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Datasheet

Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Oreochromis niloticus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Nile tilapia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, is an African freshwater cichlid and one of the world’s most important food fishes. Owing to its hardy nature, and its wide range of trophic and ecological adaptations...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult female. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult female. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
Copyright©W.A. Djatmiko (Wie146)/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult female. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
AdultOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult female. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.©W.A. Djatmiko (Wie146)/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult male. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult male. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
Copyright©W.A. Djatmiko (Wie146)/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult male. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.
AdultOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult male. Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia. October 2007.©W.A. Djatmiko (Wie146)/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult.
TitleAdult
CaptionOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult.
Copyright©Germano Roberto Schüür/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult.
AdultOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult.©Germano Roberto Schüür/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Tilapia, hybrid Oreochromis niloticus x O. aureus.
TitleTilapia hybrid
CaptionTilapia, hybrid Oreochromis niloticus x O. aureus.
Copyright©Ana Milstein
Tilapia, hybrid Oreochromis niloticus x O. aureus.
Tilapia hybridTilapia, hybrid Oreochromis niloticus x O. aureus.©Ana Milstein
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult of the GIFT strain
TitleGIFT strain
CaptionOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult of the GIFT strain
Copyright©Benoy K. Barman
Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult of the GIFT strain
GIFT strainOreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia); adult of the GIFT strain©Benoy K. Barman

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • Nile tilapia

Other Scientific Names

  • Chromis guentheri Steindachner, 1864
  • Chromis nilotica (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Chromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Oreochromis nilotica Linnaeus, 1758
  • Oreochromis niloticus niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Perca nilotica Linnaeus, 1758
  • Sarotherodon niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Tilapia calciati Gianferrari, 1924
  • Tilapia nilotica Linnaeus, 1758
  • Tilapia nilotica nilotica (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Tilapia nilotious (Linnaeus, 1758)

International Common Names

  • English: cichlid; edward tilapia; mango fish; mozambique tilapia; nilotica; tilapia, Nile
  • Spanish: mojarra; tilapia del Nilo; tilapia nilótica
  • French: tilapia de Nil; tilapia du Nil
  • Arabic: boulti
  • Chinese: lou fei

Local Common Names

  • Cambodia: trey tilapia chhnoht
  • Ethiopia: koroso; qoroosoo
  • Germany: Nilbuntbarsch; Nil-Maulbrüter; Tilapie
  • Ghana: akpafiatsi; didee
  • India: tilapia
  • Israel: amnun yeor
  • Japan: chikadai
  • Kenya: chambo; ngege; nyamami
  • Laos: nin
  • Nigeria: bugu; epia; falga; garagaza; gargaza; ifunu; karfasa; karwa; mpupa; tome; tsokungi; ukuobu
  • Philippines: pla pla; tilapia; tilapiya
  • Poland: tilapia nilowa
  • Portugal: tilápia-do-Nilo
  • Senegal: wass
  • Sweden: munruvare
  • Tanzania: chambo; ngege; perege; sato
  • Thailand: pla nil
  • Uganda: ngege; uganda

Summary of Invasiveness

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The Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, is an African freshwater cichlid and one of the world’s most important food fishes. Owing to its hardy nature, and its wide range of trophic and ecological adaptations, it has been widely introduced for aquaculture, augmentation of capture fisheries and sport fishing (Trewavas, 1983; Welcomme, 1988), and is now found in every country in the tropics. The Nile tilapia is often described as 'pioneer' species, meaning it thrives in disturbed habitats, opportunistically migrating and reproducing. These traits mean that Nile tilapia often outcompetes native species in areas where it has been introduced.

Taxonomic Tree

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

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.

Fishbase (Froese and Pauly, 2011) provides data on the Nile tilapia as O. niloticus niloticus, distinguished from 7 other subspecies: O. niloticus filoa, baringoensis, cancellatus, eduardianus, sugutae, tana and vulcani.

Distribution

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Nile tilapia is a freshwater cichlid native to the Nile River basin; the south-western Middle East; the Niger, Benue, Volta and Senegal rivers, and the lakes Chad, Tanganyika, Albert, Edward, and Kivu (Trewavas, 1983; Daget et al., 1991). It has been introduced – mostly for farming purposes – into more than 50 countries on all the continents except Antarctica (Pullin et al., 1997), and is now found in virtually every country within the tropics.

In most areas in which Nile tilapia has been introduced, especially in southern Africa, most occurrence data records are limited to monitoring surveys conducted by various national fisheries departments. These surveys are limited to major rivers and reservoirs with viable artisanal and commercial fisheries, such as the Kafue River (Zambia), Lake Kariba (Zambia/Zimbabwe border) and Lake Chicamba (Mozambique). This paucity of information makes it difficult to ascertain exactly those areas where Nile tilapia has been introduced and to predict those areas where it is likely to spread. This can be compounded by the fact that it is often difficult to identify habitats where it has established using standard morphological identification, as Nile tipalia can interbreed with congeners.

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

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Barua et al., 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004
BhutanPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
CambodiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Nuov et al., 2005
ChinaPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IndiaPresentIntroducedShetty et al., 1989; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
IranPresentIntroducedCoad, 1995; Froese and Pauly, 2004
IraqPresentIntroducedCoad, 1996; Froese and Pauly, 2011
IsraelPresentNativeFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Golani and Mires, 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JapanPresentIntroducedPullin and Capili, 1988; Chiba et al., 1989; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
JordanPresentNativeKrupp and Schneider, 1989; Pullin et al., 1997
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Jang et al., 2002
KuwaitPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
LaosPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Kottelat, 2001; Froese and Pauly, 2004
LebanonPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedAng and Gopinath, 1989; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Chong et al., 2010
MyanmarPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Thame, 2003; Bartley, 2006
NepalPresentIntroducedManandhar, 1995; FAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
PakistanPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedJuliano et al., 1989; Bleher, 1994; Manandhar, 1995; Pullin et al., 1997; Guererro, 1998; Moreau, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2004
QatarBartley, 2006
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedSiddiqui et al., 1989; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SingaporePresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Amarasinghe and Silva, 1996; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SyriaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TaiwanPresentIntroducedLiao and Lia, 1989; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ThailandPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Iongh and Zon, 1993; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TurkeyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
United Arab EmiratesPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
VietnamPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
YemenPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
BotswanaPresentIntroducedMoor and Bruton, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2011
Burkina FasoPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
BurundiPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CameroonPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ChadPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
ComorosPresentIntroducedTrewavas, 1983; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CongoPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
EgyptPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
EritreaPresentIntroducedHillman, 1993; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
EthiopiaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GabonPresentIntroducedFAO, 1996; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GambiaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
GhanaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
GuineaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
KenyaPresentIntroducedOgutu-Ohwayo, 1990; Ogutu-Ohwayo and Hecky, 1991; Muchiri et al., 1995; Twongo, 1995; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
LiberiaPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
LibyaPresentNativeBartley, 2006
MadagascarPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1984; Pullin, 1988; Leveque, 1997; Reinthal and Stiassny, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MalawiPresentPullin et al., 1997
MaliPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
MauritiusPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MozambiqueIntroduced, establishedIntroducedFirmat et al., 2013
NigerPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
NigeriaPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
RéunionPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Froese and Pauly, 2004
RwandaPresentIntroducedVos and Thys, 1990; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
SenegalPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
Sierra LeonePresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
South AfricaPresentIntroducedSchoor DJvan, 1966; Pullin et al., 1997; Waal and Bills, 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004; D'Amato et al., 2007; Zengeya et al., 2011; Zengeya et al., 2013
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SudanPresentNativePullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Ogutu-Ohwayo, 1990; Ogutu-Ohwayo and Hecky, 1991; Twongo, 1995; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
TogoPresentNativeFroese and Pauly, 2004
TunisiaPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
UgandaPresentNativeOgutu-Ohwayo, 1990; Vos and Thys, 1990; Ogutu-Ohwayo and Hecky, 1991; Twongo, 1995; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ZambiaPresentIntroducedSchwank, 1995; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Tweddle, 2010
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Chifamba, 1998; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Marshall and Tweddle, 2007; Zengeya and Marshall, 2007; Zengeya and Marshall, 2008

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
MexicoPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Pérez-Ponce et al., 2000; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
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
-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; Peterson et al., 2002
-MissouriPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
-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
-WyomingPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Central America and Caribbean

Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedBartley, 2006
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; FAO, 2002; Froese and Pauly, 2004
CubaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Chakalall, 1993; Froese and Pauly, 2004
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
GrenadaPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; FAO, 2002; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
HaitiPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
HondurasPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Bartley, 2006
JamaicaPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
MartiniquePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; Froese and Pauly, 2004
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; McKaye et al., 1995; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; McCrary et al., 2007
PanamaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedErdman, 1984; Welcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; FAO, 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; FAO, 2010; Krauss, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedChakalall, 1993; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
BoliviaPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
BrazilPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Starling et al., 2002; 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; Bartley, 2006; Leal-Flórez et al., 2008
EcuadorPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedBartley, 2006; Froese and Pauly, 2011
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFAO, 2002; Froese and Pauly, 2004
ParaguayPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
PeruPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SurinamePresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
UruguayPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997

Europe

AlbaniaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2011
BelgiumPresentIntroducedFAO, 1997; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004; DAISIE, 2011
CyprusPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Holcík, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Holcík, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004; Lusk et al., 2010; Lusk et al., 2011
FrancePresentIntroducedTabthipwon et al., 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GermanyPresentWelcomme, 1988; Holcík, 1991; Pullin et al., 1997
HungaryPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
ItalyPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Bartley, 2006; Andaloro et al., 2012
MaltaPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
PolandPresent1990 Not invasive Grabowska et al., 2010; NOBANIS, 2011Not established
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997; Bogutskaya and Naseka, 2002
-Northern RussiaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Holcík, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SpainPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
UKPresentIntroducedRomana, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
-England and WalesPresentIntroducedFroese and Pauly, 2004
UkrainePresentDAISIE, 2011

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedEldredge, 1994; Bartley, 2006
FijiPresentIntroducedWelcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Froese and Pauly, 2004
GuamPresentIntroducedPullin et al., 1997
KiribatiPresentIntroducedFAO, 1996; Froese and Pauly, 2004
SamoaPresentIntroducedBell and Mulipola, 2000

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Albania   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2011)
Algeria   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
American Samoa   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Argentina 1940-1949 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Vigliano and Darrigran (2003)
Bahia   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Bangladesh Thailand 1954 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Barua et al. (2001); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Belgium Israel 1957 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No DAISIE (2011); FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Bhutan 1985 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Welcomme (1988)
Bolivia Colombia 1960-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Botswana   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Moor and Bruton (1988)
Brazil Côte d'Ivoire 1971 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004); Pullin et al. (1997); Starling et al. (2002)
Brunei Darussalam Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No
Burundi Congo 1951 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997)
Cambodia Vietnam 1980 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Nuov et al. (2005); Pullin et al. (1997)
Canada   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Canary Islands   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Cape Verde   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Cayman Islands   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006)
Ceara   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Central African Republic Congo 1957 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Welcomme (1988)
China Egypt 1978 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Colombia Brazil 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Leal-Flórez et al. (2008); Pullin et al. (1997)
Comoros   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Trewavas (1983)
Congo Sudan 1953 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Congo Democratic Republic   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Welcomme (1988)
Cook Islands Fiji 1993 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Eldredge (1994)
Costa Rica Panama 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (2002); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Cuba Peru 1967 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Cyprus Israel 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Holcík (1991); Welcomme (1988)
Czech Republic Sudan 1985 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Holcík (1991); Lusk et al. (2010); Lusk et al. (2011); Welcomme (1988)
Dominican Republic 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993); Welcomme (1988)
Ecuador   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
El Salvador USA 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
England and Wales   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004)
Eritrea Ethiopia 1989 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Hillman (1993); Pullin et al. (1997)
Espirito Santo   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Fiji Israel 1968 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
France   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Tabthipwon et al. (1988)
Gabon Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No
Gabon Aquaculture (pathway cause) No No
Galapagos Islands 2003 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006)
Germany 1957 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Holcík (1991); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Grenada 1982 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993)
Guam   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Guatemala El Salvador 1974 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); FAO (1997); FAO (2002)
Guyana   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (2002)
Haiti 1977 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Honduras USA 1978 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Hong Kong Taiwan 1972 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Hungary   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
India Thailand 1990 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Shetty et al. (1989)
Indonesia Taiwan 1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); FAO (1997)
Iran   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Coad (1995)
Iraq 1950-1974 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Coad (1996)
Italy 2000 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Andaloro et al. (2012); Bartley (2006); Pullin et al. (1997)
Jamaica 1975-1999 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993); Pullin et al. (1997)
Japan Egypt 1962 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chiba et al. (1989); Pullin and Capili (1988); Pullin et al. (1997)
Kenya 1954-1962 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Muchiri et al. (1995); Ogutu-Ohwayo (1990); Ogutu-Ohwayo and Hecky (1991); Pullin et al. (1997); Twongo (1995)
Kiribati   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No
Korea, Republic of   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Korea, Republic of Taiwan 1975 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Jang et al. (2002)
Kuwait   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Laos Thailand   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Kottelat (2001); Kottelat (2001b); Pullin et al. (1997)
Lebanon   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Madagascar Egypt 1956 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Leveque (1997); Pullin et al. (1997); Reinthal and Stiassny (1997); Welcomme (1984); Welcomme (1988)
Malawi   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Malaysia Thailand 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Ang and Gopinath (1989); Chong et al. (2010); Froese and Pauly (2004); Pullin et al. (1997)
Malta Aquaculture (pathway cause) No No
Malta Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No
Martinique   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Mauritius Tanzania 1950 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997)
Mexico Africa 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); FAO (1997); Pérez-Ponce et al. (2000)
Mozambique   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Firmat et al. (2013)
Myanmar Thailand 1977 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); Pullin et al. (1997); Thame (2003)
Nepal Thailand 1985 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006); FAO (1997); Manandhar (1995)
Netherlands Antilles   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993)
Nicaragua El Salvador 1964 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No McCrary et al. (2007); McKaye et al. (1995); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Pakistan Egypt 1985 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Panama Brazil 1976 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Paraguay   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Peru Brazil 1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Philippines Thailand 1970 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bleher (1994); Guererro (1998); Juliano et al. (1989); Manandhar (1995); Moreau (1999); Pullin et al. (1997)
Poland Czech Republic 1989 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Grabowska et al. (2010); NOBANIS (2011)
Puerto Rico Brazil 1974 Aquarium trade (pathway cause) Yes No Erdman (1984); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Qatar   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bartley (2006)
Réunion Madagascar 1957 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Welcomme (1988)
Russian Federation   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bogutskaya and Naseka (2002); Pullin et al. (1997)
Rwanda Congo Democratic Republic 1935-51 Aquarium trade (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Vos and Thys (1990)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993)
Samoa Fiji 1991 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Bell and Mulipola (2000)
Sao Tome and Principe Gabon   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004)
Saudi Arabia   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Siddiqui et al. (1989)
Singapore 1970-1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Slovakia   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004); Holcík (1991); Welcomme (1984)
South Africa Israel 1955 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No D'Amato et al. (2007); Pullin et al. (1997); Schoor DJvan (1966); Waal and Bills (2000); Zengeya et al. (2011); Zengeya et al. (2013)
Sri Lanka 1956 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Amarasinghe and Silva (1996); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Suriname   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Syria   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004); Pullin et al. (1997)
Taiwan Japan 1966 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Liao and Lia (1989); Pullin et al. (1997)
Tanzania 1950-1969 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Ogutu-Ohwayo (1990); Ogutu-Ohwayo and Hecky (1991); Pullin et al. (1997); Twongo (1995); Welcomme (1988)
Thailand Japan 1965 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Iongh and Zon (1993); Pullin et al. (1997); Welcomme (1988)
Trinidad and Tobago Jamaica 1980-1985 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chakalall (1993); Pullin et al. (1997)
Tunisia 1966 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997)
Turkey 1970-1979 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
UK   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997); Romana (1988)
Ukraine   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No DAISIE (2011)
United Arab Emirates   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
United States Virgin Islands   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Uruguay   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
USA Brazil 1974 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Peterson et al. (2002); Pullin et al. (1997)
Venezuela   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Vietnam Philippines 1973 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No FAO (1997); Pullin et al. (1997)
Yemen   Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Pullin et al. (1997)
Zambia Scotland 1983 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Froese and Pauly (2004); Schwank (1995); Thys Audenaerde DFEvan den (1994); Thys van den Audenaerde DFE (1994); Tweddle (2010)
Zimbabwe Scotland 1990 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chifamba (1998); Marshall and Tweddle (2007); Pullin et al. (1997); Zengeya and Marshall (2007); Zengeya and Marshall (2008)
Zimbabwe Kenya 1986 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes No Chifamba (1998); Marshall and Tweddle (2007); Pullin et al. (1997); Zengeya and Marshall (2007); Zengeya and Marshall (2008)

Risk of Introduction

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Despite the well-documented adverse ecological effects of Nile tilapia on recipient river systems (see Canonico et al., 2005 and references therein), it is among one of the most widely cultured species in aquaculture and stock enhancements (Suresh, 2003) and it has been introduced into more than 50 countries on all continents except Antarctica (Pullin et al., 1997). In addition, Nile tilapia has been extensively propagated locally by farmers and anglers for recreational and sport fishing into small- and medium-sized reservoirs, often circumventing permitting processes. As a consequence, these movements are not usually documented or monitored.

Nile tilapia is well-suited for aquaculture because of its wide range of trophic and ecological adaptations, and its adaptive life history characteristics that enable it to occupy many different tropical and sub-tropical freshwater niches (Trewavas, 1983). These attributes have inherently predisposed it to be a successful invasive species, with established feral populations in most tropical and sub-tropical environments in which it has either been cultured or has otherwise gained access to (Welcomme, 1988; Pullin et al., 1997; Costa-Pierce, 2003; Canonico et al., 2005). However, predicting the areas where Nile tilapia will spread, once introduced to and area, can be difficult.

Decisions on exotic fish introductions are usually based on a trade-off between socio-economic benefits and potential adverse ecological effects (Cowx, 1999). In Zambia, for example, aquaculture projects rearing Nile tilapia have been ardently promoted within the Zambezi River system, and the inevitable fish escapes from such facilities have led to the establishment of feral populations in river systems such as the Kafue River (Schwank, 1995) and tributaries of the Upper Kapombo River, and Nile tilapia will probably futher spread in the upper Zambezi River, where indigenous Oreochromis species such as O. andersonii and O. macrochir will be at risk of being outcompeted (Tweddle, 2010).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Brackish
Estuaries Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Estuaries Present, no further details Natural
Estuaries Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Natural
Inland saline areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Lagoons Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lagoons Present, no further details Natural
Lagoons Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Lakes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lakes Present, no further details Natural
Lakes Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Ponds Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Reservoirs Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Reservoirs Present, no further details Natural
Reservoirs Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Nile 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 several thousand young per spawn.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
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
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 8
Mean annual temperature (ºC) -8 42
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 36 42
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 8 10

Notes on Natural Enemies

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O. niloticus is predated upon by shoreline birds, large piscovouros fish (such as tigerfish Hydrocynus vittatus, Nile perch Lates niloticus and catfish Claris gariepinus) and crocodiles.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduced Accidental

Nile tilapia has repeatedly reached new areas after escaping from nearby fish farms, such as in the Middle Zambezi, Nata (Makgadikgadi/Okavango), Runde-Save, Buzi and Limpopo River systems (Schwank, 1995; van der Waal and Bills 1997; 2000; Tweddle and Wise, 2007; Weyl, 2008; Zengeya and Marshall, 2008).

Intentional Introduction

Nile tilapia has been widely introduced for aquaculture, augmentation of capture fisheries, and sport fishing (Trewavas, 1983; Welcomme, 1988).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes Nico and Schofield, 2011
Breeding and propagationWide spread intentional introduction Yes Yes Canonico et al., 2005
Escape from confinement or garden escapeAccidental Yes Canonico et al., 2005; Nico and Schofield, 2011
FisheriesWidespread intentaion introduction Yes Yes Canonico et al., 2005
Intentional releaseWide spread intentional introduction Yes Yes Canonico et al., 2005

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stockWide spread intentional introduction Yes Yes Canonico et al., 2005

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections Positive
Animal/plant products Positive
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Positive
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Human health Positive
Livestock production Positive
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Tourism Positive
Trade/international relations Positive

Economic Impact

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In most invaded systems, Nile tilapia has had a pronounced impact on fisheries, in terms of increased food production and poverty alleviation, by creating alternative aquaculture and fisheries livelihoods (Wise et al., 2007). Interestingly, the establishment of Nile tilapia in novel systems has not led to a decrease in overall yields, but rather a replacement of indigenous species (Ogutu–Ohwayo, 1991; Twongo, 1995; Balirwa et al., 2003; Shipton et al., 2008; Weyl, 2008). In some cases, Nile tilapia has supplanted desirable species from the fishery setups, such as in Lake Victoria, where Nile tilapia is often regarded as being of inferior quality in comparison to the various haplochromines that it supplanted and therefore, commands lower market prices (Wise et al., 2007).

Environmental Impact

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Tilapia introductions were often associated with severe environmental change, especially construction of reservoirs and large-scale irrigation projects. Many populations of tilapia are now so well established they are a permanent part of the fish community. Introduced tilapia often will develop large populations and male Nile tilapia will create nesting areas that will cover large areas of disturbed bottom sediments. The male’s aggressive protection of nest territory may impact native nest builders.

Impact on Biodiversity

Nile tilapia have been distributed throughout the tropics. In many cases this distribution occurred before any scientific evaluation of natural aquatic ecosystems. The environmental impact in most cases can only be assumed and in most cases is equally related to considerable anthropogenic changes in the environment.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Oreochromis andersonii (three spotted tilapia)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)Competition; Competition - monopolizing resources
Oreochromis macrochir (longfin tilapia)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)Competition; Competition - monopolizing resources
Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia)No DetailsCompetition; Competition - monopolizing resources
Zizania texana (Texas wild-rice)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesTexasEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Pest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995

Social Impact

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Tilapia’s major social impact is as an important source of protein in many developing countries. A second important impact is as a source of employment producing tilapia for export. In Brazil, tilapia also support the fee fishing recreational activities. One important social impact of tilapia aquaculture is the increase in household incomes from small farms and eateries associated with farms. Another impact is the benefit to women involved with tilapia farming. Hatcheries and genetic improvement programs employ many highly educated women in developing countries. These positions are especially important in locations where women with advanced degrees in biology have a difficult time finding employment commensurate with their education. Processing plants also hire large numbers of unskilled women for the processing line and skilled women for quality assurance. Finally, Nile tilapia, also known as Egyptian Mouth Breeders, are a popular aquarium fish.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Conflict
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Hybridization
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Tilapias are the third most farmed fish in the world after carps and salmonids, accounting for 4% of global aquaculture production (FAO, 2010). Aquaculture is perceived as a means of protein security, poverty alleviation and economic development in many developing countries (NEPAD, 2005).

The Nile tilapia is well-suited for aquaculture because of its wide range of trophic and ecological adaptations, as well as its adaptive life history characteristics that enable it to occupy many different tropical and sub-tropical freshwater niches (Trewavas, 1983).

Along with the Mozambique tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus, the Nile tilapia is the most important tilapia in aquaculture. They are among the ten most introduced fish species in the world, and together they account for 99.5% of global tilapia production (FAO 2010). Since the mid-1980s, there has been a shift in producer preference away from the Mozambique tilapia towards culturing Nile tilapia, as the latter has a higher growth rate and a reduced tendency to stunt.  Nile tilapia now dominates global tilapia aquaculture production, accounting for 72%, or 474 000 tons, in 1995 (FAO, 2010).

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Laboratory use
  • Research model
  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

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

Detection and Inspection

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Nile tilapia is easily recognised by its caudal fin, which is distinctively striped, with 30-34 lateral scales and 20-26 gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch. Breeding males have a red flush on the lower head, body, dorsal and caudal fins (Trewavas, 1983; Daget et al., 1991; Skelton, 2001).

However, the morphological identification of Nile tilapia in areas with congeneric Oreochromis species is not clearly defined, as there is considerable variation and broad interspecific overlaps in meristic and morphometric characters that are used in species identification (Trewavas, 1983). This is further complicated by the fact that Nile tilapia easily hybridises with it congeners and produces hybrids that are difficult to identify morphologically, as back-crosses resemble parental species (Trewavas, 1983). This clearly poses a serious problem for the control and management of Nile tilapia, as it is often difficult to identify habitats where it has established using standard morphological identification.

Diagnosis

To circumvent morphological identification problems of Nile tilapia, a combination of genetic and morphometric analyses can be done to identify Oreochromis species (see D’Amato et al., 2007; Firmat et al., 2013).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

When deciding what species should be used for aquaculture and where, a precautionary approach is recommended, particularly in areas thought to be highly suitable for the establishment of Nile tilapia. Introductions of Nile tilapia should be restricted to catchments where it has already established, and prohibited in pristine areas that are still free of invasion. In addition, and if possible, potential point sources of Nile tilapia should be eradicated in non-invaded river systems.

Alternatively, the use of indigenous species could be promoted and enhanced through stock improvement and better farming methods. It should be noted, however, that the alternative species should also not be introduced to novel river systems outside their native range, as they would possibly pose the same invasion-related problems as encountered with Nile tilapia.

There is a need to implement regular monitoring programmes in most river catchments and also to educate farmers and anglers about the ecological impacts that invasive species such as Nile tilapia have on indigenous congeners.

Domestication and Breeding

There are some steps that aquaculture operations can take to mitigate any additional harm of Nile tilapia introductions. 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 Nile tilapia are an important step, as red Nile 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.

References

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02/10/13 Datasheet reviewed by:

Tsungai Zengeya, Univeristy of Pretoria, South Africa

First 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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