The Wami tilapia (Oreochromis urolepis hornorum) does not grow as fast as the famous Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) but is more salt tolerant and can therefore be cultivated in brackish and marine environments and addition to traditional freshwater growing units. You can for instance find wild populations of Wami tilapia thriving in saline pools on Zanzibar.
The Wami tilapia is a flexible species that can make use of a long row of different food sources, such as algae, higher plants, invertebrates, and detritus (decomposing organic matter). By growing Wami tilapia, the farmer can make use of waters that most other tilapias would not do well in and the Wami tilapia can also be cultivated with other important food animals like shrimps.
Oreochromis urolepis hornorum is widely used by fish breeders in the process of developing new strains for tilapia aquacultures. Genetic material from Wami tilapia is present in a long row of hybrids and strains; many of them priced for the salt tolerance. Oreochromis urolepis hornorum is also used to create tilapia batches with few or no female fish present. When Wami tilapia breeds with Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), a very high degree of the resulting offspring is male. By keeping no or very few females, tilapia farmers do not have to worry about uncontrolled tilapia breeding in their ponds. If tilapias are allowed to reproduce freely, the adults will be forced to compete with their offspring for food and space and this leads to reduced growth rates. Over-crowding also makes the population more susceptible to disease.
Wami tilapia and Rufigi tilapia were once considered two separate species but are today seen as subspecies of the same species. In older sources, you may therefore find information about Oreochromis urolepis hornorum under the old name Oreochromis hornorum or even Tilapia hornorum. They scientific name for the subspecies Rufigi tilapia is Oreochromis urolepis urolepis.