Tilapia Culture

27 04 2008

Tilapia are sometimes known as “aquatic chicken”, due to their high growth rates, adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions, ability to grow and reproduce in captivity and feed on low trophic levels. As a result, these fishes have become excellent candidates for aquaculture, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. Indeed, tilapia culture has been expanding rapidly, and is now practiced in more than one hundred countries worldwide.

Introduction – Tilapia are native to Africa, but have been introduced in many countries around the world. They are disease-resistant, reproduce easily, eat a wide variety of foods and tolerate poor water quality with low dissolved oxygen levels. Most will grow in brackish water and some will adapt to full strength sea water. These characteristics make tilapia suitable for culture in most developing countries. They are most often grown in ponds, cages and rice fields…

Biology– Tilapia is a member of the family Cichlidae. Three genera are well-known namely Oreochromis, Tilapia and Sarotherodon, of which nile tilapia belongs to genus Oreochromis. This species is naturally distributed in Palestine, the Nile River as well as most part of African river and lakes. It was introduced in the Philippines in 1972. It’s rising popularity is due to their hardness, resistance to diseases, ease in breeding, reasonable growth rate, good taste, and tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions including temperature and salinities…

Fingerling Production – To meet the demand for tilapia fingerlings, more private hatcheries should be established. Although some fish-farmers specialize in fingerling production, many of them are engaged in fingerling and food fish production simultaneously. As the industry expands, farmers realize the importance of using good quality fingerlings. As long as the demand for fingerlings exists, a well-managed hatchery is a lucrative business…

a. Disease Prevention – The extension officer is often faced with the problem of on-the-spot examination of fish. In this case, a diagnosis is impossible without laboratory examination. However, external examination of fish samples can be initially done. To to this, note the following physical features of the fish…

b. Handling – Transporting live fish involves hauling of a large number of fish into a small quantity of water. Unless this is done properly, water quality deteriorates causing fish mortality. The use of plastic and buri bag or hauling box with aerators are new methods commonly used in transporting live fish. The objective of having a good transport system for live fish is to minimize stress on the fish and ensure a high rate of survival…

Modern Way of Producing Tilapia Fingerlings – Construct a small fishpond in areas having suitable clay soil and abundant water supply, about 10 meters wide, 20 meters long and 1 meter depth…

Freshwater Fishpond – The success of freshwater fishpond farming depends on the selection of ideal fishpond site, proper planning and layout design, proper construction and appropriate pond management. Considering the expenses involved in pond construction, freshwater fishponds smaller than half a hectare are not commercially viable. This technoguide is designed for freshwater fishponds with an area of one-half hectare or more…

a. Management of fispond – Drain and dry the pond completely. Dry for about a week or more, depending upon the weather, until the bottom cracks or harden sufficiently to support a man on his feet without sinking more than 1 cm. Make sure the pond soil is dried every time the pond is harvested.Periodic drying stabilize soil colloids and oxidizes organic matters that encourage the growth of natural fish foods…

b. Pond care and maintenance – The water should be free from toxic chemical contamination and unwanted predatory or wild fishes and must be available when needed. Employ precautionary measures when using water from rivers, streams and communal irrigation systems…

Cage Culture – Tilapia cage culture is growing tilapia in cages made of nylon nettings and bamboo frames that are floated, submerged or fixed at the bottom. It utilizes bodies of water such as dams, rivers, lakes, bays, reservoirs and coves. This is one of the effective technologies used in raising tilapia. It started out in 1974 in Sampaloc Lake and Laguna Bay and being practiced now in different regions like in Magat Dam Reservoir in Region II…

Fish Stocking and Stocking Rate
Stock fish either early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the water is relatively cool. Acclimatize the fingerlings before stocking them. To do this, float bags of fingerlings in water where the fish is to be stocked, thereby allowing the water on the bags to float on the pond for 30 minutes. Determine the water temperature of both bag and pond waters with a thermometer…

Post-harvest handling and processing – The need for proper handling and processing of tilapia is important both for the fishing industry and for the consumers. Improvement of the processing and handling of tilapia in terms of quality, product range and volume results in increased economic activity and employment. It is also one way of stabilizing fish marketing by providing an outlet for surplus and peak catch even during emergency harvest, thereby ensuring high fishing activities and stable prices…

Gender Reversal – Male tilapia fish grow faster and much bigger than the females. The males normally weigh frorn 600-800 gms in four months and can even grow bigger, but the females reach only as much as 150 gms within the same period. Because the female tilapia reproduces fast, the over population in the pond retards their growth and causes the death of many…

Tank culture of tilapia – Tank culture of tilapia is a good alternative to pond or cage culture if sufficient water or land is not available and the economics are favorable. Tilapia grow well at high densities in the confinement of tanks when good water quality is maintained. This is accomplished by aeration and frequent or continuous water exchange to renew dissolved oxygen (DO) supplies and remove wastes. Culture systems that discard water after use are called flowthrough systems while those that filter and recycle water are referred to as recirculating systems…

Feeding – Most wild tilapia are omnivorous, meaning they will eat a variety of things, including both plants and animals. This is in contrast to many other fish that are more specialized. However, like other animals, tilapia have specific requirements for nutrients such as amino acids from protein, fats, minerals and vitamins.

Seminars & Training:
The Freshwater Aquaculture Center Central Luzon State University Science
City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija 3120 Philippines Tel/FAX No.: (63-44) 456-0681

Agri-Aqua Network International
(+63 02) 839-1772 / 839-1782 / 837-0023 / 837-0033
(+63 02) 839-1772

709 CityState Centre Building, Shaw Blvd. Pasig City
Tel. No. (02) 637-4018 ; (02) 637-4108
Fax No. (02) 633-5868



One response

11 11 2008
david field

Very interesting explanation. I am visiting Mexico fot 6 months and wonder if you are aware of tilapia fish farms thin Mexico that I could visit. Any info would be appreciated Thanks Santa Dave

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