Oreochromis niloticus

The Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is not just one of the most commonly kept tilapias in the world, it is also extensively used by fish developers creating new hybrids and strains for the aquaculture market. The ND21 tilapia hybrid does for instance contain genetic material from Oreochromis niloticus; it is the result of breeding a female Oreochromis niloticus ND-2 tilapia with a male Oreochromis aureus ND-1 tilapia.

Two of the traits that developers try to extract from the Nile tilapia are its fast growth rate and its ability to adapt to new environments. In Africa, you can find Nile tilapia not only in the River Nile but in virtually any type of water, from lakes to sewage canals. It can find food in many different environments since it feeds chiefly on phytoplankton, benthic algae and plants.

Despite being a freshwater fish, it can adapt to brackish conditions. When it comes to water temperature, its wild range is 13.5-33 °C (56-91 °F).

Wild Nile tilapias are dark, but since many consumers prefer paler fish it is common among tilapia farmers to grow leucistic breeds of this species. Leucism is a form of reduced pigmentation; it is similar to albinism but unlike albinism it affects all type of skin pigment, not only melanin.

Before getting Nile tilapia for your fish farm it is important to check up on current rules and regulations. Due to the factors described above, Nile tilapia has a great potency for becoming a problematic invasive species outside its native range and many countries and regions have therefore enacted special legislation to prevent this from happening. You may for instance need a special permit that shows that your fish farm adheres to the latest safety regulations when it comes to preventing fish from escaping. Checking up on tilapia regulations in advance can save you a lot of trouble and money in the long run.