In addition to the many different species of tilapia, you can also chose between different strains of this fish. Most of them have been developed using traditional selective breeding, but high-tech bio-engineering practises are beginning to influence the area.
If you are in the process of selecting a tilapia strain for your tilapia farm, there are several questions that need to be answered before you make any decision.
- Which strain is most suitable for your particular climate? Most tilapia strains experience reduced growth- and spawning rates if subjected to temperatures below 22 degrees C (72 degrees F). If there is any risk of this happening in your part of the world, e.g. during nights or cool seasons, a cold tolerant tilapia strain is the safest choice. The ND41 tilapia strain is just one example of a strain developed to cope with low temperatures. It hails from the cold tolerant wild Oreochromis aureus (Blue tilapia).
- Will you use freshwater, brackish water or saltwater in your tilapia farm? Most tilapia farms use freshwater, but several tilapia strains can thrive in brackish or marine conditions. The ND56 tilapia strain can tolerate a salinity up to 35 ppt, which is the same as the average salinity of sea water. You can farm it together with shrimps to yield a second harvest.
- How large will the strain become? As a rule of thumb, a 2 lbs fish (about 900 g) is necessary to produce skinless 7-9 oz (roughly 200-255 g) fillets; a size favoured by consumers.
- What is the growth rate of the strain?
- How is the temperament? Docile strains are easier to handle and less prone to handling induced stress and injury.
- How resilient is it to Streptococcus infection and other common tilapia diseases?
- What is the colour? In some markets, consumers pay a lot more for red tilapia than for the other colour variants.
- Do you want a monosex strain to prevent uncontrolled spawning?
- Does the seller offer any type of guarantee?
- Is the tilapia producer reputable? Since it is difficult to determine the quality of tilapia fry, it is very important to stick to reputable breeders who continuously offer high-quality fry. Don’t hesitate to shop around and contact several different vendors before you make up your mind.