Oreochromis niloticus

Adult tilapia with blue-black fins, white belly and pink tail, against a white background.


This tropical freshwater fish is easy to raise in large numbers in small tanks. This makes tilapia an ideal partner for plants on aquaponics farms.

Good to Know . . .

Two rows of blue circular tanks, each covered by a net and connected to a series of tubes, at an indoor facility.

By Narek75 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51660864

In Canada, tilapia are raised in land-based tank systems that use recirculation technology. This system treats and filters dirty water before returning it to the fish tanks. The water is also heated to keep tilapia at a comfortable 24 °C.

Tilapia with mouth held open by a human hand. Around the edges of its mouth there are orange fish eggs, some of which have fallen into a net below.


Tilapia are mouthbrooders: a female tilapia keeps her young inside her mouth until the baby fish are around 12 days old.   

Adult tilapia in a net, held up in front of a group of tilapia pens floating in water.

Attasit saentep/Shutterstock

Tilapia is one of the most popular fish farmed worldwide.

Farming tilapia isn’t new. The Ancient Egyptians farmed Nile tilapia thousands of years ago.

Narrow river of murky water, with palm trees on the left bank and mangroves on the right.


Some species of tilapia live in brackish water. Brackish water has a higher concentration of salt than freshwater, but a lower concentration of salt than saltwater.

Fuzzy green soybean pods hanging from a soybean plant, against a blue sky.


Tilapia are omnivores, and on fish farms they are often fed algae or plants such as corn and soybeans.

Against the setting sun, a worker in a conical hat tosses feed into fish pens floating in a river.

thirawatana phaisalratana/Shutterstock

Tilapia grow quicker than many other types of fish. This makes them a popular choice for fish farmers, especially in warmer climates.