If you mentioned the word ''tilapia'' a few years ago, many people would very likely have had no idea of what you were on about.
Mention the word "tiliapia" today, and most people will associate it with a mouth watery delicate fish; courtesy of the increasing popularity of the aquaculture practice.
Tilapia fish is now widely distributed around the world.
Americans alone ate over 475 million pounds of tilapia fish last year, four times the amount a decade ago; making this once obscure African native fish the most popular farmed fish in the United States.
Although wild fish predominate in most species, a vast majority of the tilapia consumed in the United States today comes from fish farms in Latin America and Asia.
Raising Tilapia fish has now become the mainstay of many fish farmers around the world (both in the developed and in the developing countries alike).
Tilapia fish is also a quite popular fish for use on aquaculture projects around the world and often recommended to poor fish farmers in the developing world as a fish to raise on their fish farm.
If you are a fish farm owner at the moment and you are not yet raising tilapia fish.... the question is why not?
Fishery experts around the world have dubbed tilapia as the "aquatic chicken" claiming it possesses many positive attributes that suit the fish for a varied range of fish farming systems.
Why is tilapia a much loved fish by fish farmers around the world and would you consider raising tilapia as a fish for your business?
Read on to find out if any of these reasons given by the top performing fish farm owners will endear you to raising tilapia fish on your fish farm.
Here are 7 Key Reasons often given by fish farm owners around the world as their main reasons for raising tilapia fish as part of their fish farming business.
1. Strong & Flexible Fish
Tilapia Fish is regarded as a hardy, versatile white fish with a remarkable appeal to consumers all over the world.
Tilapia fish can easily tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions such as poor water quality with low dissolved oxygen levels and can thrive in salt, brackish, or fresh water.
Tilapia is more easily grown than other fish species for either commercial or non-profit enterprises. They may be grown in open ponds, cages submerged in ponds, aquariums, or tanks on land.
Tilapia's wide range of tolerance of environmental changes, including, water quality, temperature, salinity, population density, make it an ideal fish for fish farming.
Many other fish used for fish farming, such as fresh water trout, are much more delicate and prone to disease when stressed by even relatively minor changes in their environment.
2. Strong Immune System
One of the biggest threats facing any fish farm owner is the threat of any form of fish disease or any parasitic infection of the fish. Not only can any form of fish disease be expensive to treat but it can also wipe out the whole fish stock...
which could be a davastating thing to happen to any fish farmer; as loss of stock will definitely mean financial ruin for most fish farmers.
The tilapia fish is highly resistant to diseases and parasitic infections.
When well fed and kept in warm water, there are no known diseases that can cause a large kill of the Tilapia stock.
The strong immune system of the tilapia fish guards against the infections that often wipe out whole populations of the more delicate species used in fish farming and aqua culture systems.
This characteristic among others is what makes the tilapia fish suitable for fish farming and well loved by experienced fish farm owners around the world and in most developing countries.
3. Ability To Grow Rapidly
The faster you can grow your fish from egg to table size fish, the more money you get to make and put into your own pocket as a fish farm owner.
You not only get to turnaround your initial investment in the fish stock quickly but you also get to save a fortune on the cost of feeding the stock.
Throughout time, tilapia fish have always been selectively bred for its ability to grow fast and are known to be able to convert a greater proportion of their feed into growth than most other fish species and can do so on a low-protein diet..
The acid content of the tilapia digestive tract is one of the strongest known and can efficiently digest most microorganisms.
Tilapia fish can grow from fingerling to eating size in about 10 months in an average aqua culture station.
In fact, commercial Fish Farmers have been able to create and use optimum environments that can grow Tilapia fish to market size within just six to seven months compared to two to three years for salmon.
The fast growth of the tilapia fish also has the added advantage that it keeps it from accumulating mercury unlike most slow-growing fish...making it a healthier option for people to eat.
The ability of tilapia fish to grow rapidly gives fish farmers that choose to raise tilapia as a farmed fish, a strong commercial advantage over other fish farmers.
4. Fast Breeding
Tilapia fish are prolific breeders and can easily breed in captivity.
Tilapia fish matures at the age of 4 to 12 months, and can spawn every 4-8 weeks, producing between 1,500 to 10,000 fry per year making it easy for you as a fish farmer to replenish your stock of fish.
Tilapia female fish are also mouth breeders thus offering greater protection for its young ones. The combination of this factor with having a good immune system ensures that a lot of the young tilapia fish survive. mouth is the perfect protection of offspring.
The ease with which tilapia spawn and produce offsprings make them a good fish to farm.
5. Ease of Handling
Tilapia fish are omnivores and can eat just about anything; be it algae, plants, insects, meat, veggies etc...
For the most part they’re herbivores. As scavengers, they like to eat dead stuff, like dead fish and fish food. They enjoy algae and water plants like duckweed.
This is particularly important from a sustainability perspective since you don't have to feed them only on commercial blends packed with fish meal (ground up fish, which depletes our oceans),or grains grown using fossil fuels and shipped long distances.
You also get to save yourself a great deal of money on buying commercial blends of fish feeds which tend to be quite expensive especially in developing countries.
will help 'seed' the water, causing an algae bloom, which the fish then eat. Nothing goes to waste, another closed loop!
Tilapia Fish also love ductweed. If you've ever seen a pond covered in what appears to be green slime, it is probably duckweed.
With the proper training and approach, Tilapia fish farming can provide a reliable harvest that is inexpensive to grow.
6. Wide Acceptance Of Tilapia As Food Fish.
Tilapia fish enjoys the widest demand with no religious/cultural concerns or issues.
In Fact, the farming of Tilapia fish is recorded in human history as far back as ancient Egypt. Tradition holds that the "Tilapis Fish" was the same fish that Jesus used to feed the five-thousand on the Sea of Galilee - thus one of its common names, "St. Peter's Fish."
Tilapia is also referred to as "The Wonder Fish."
Unlike some other fishes, there are no serious religious concerns about the tilapia fish as opposed to fishes like the cat fish. (Some people don't eat catfish because of the lack of fish scales)
7. Great Business Opportunities
Raising Tilapia Fish has a viable market in all economies whether it is first, second, or third world.
Tilapia fish farmers have a cash-generating crop that can be sold in their local food market and /or internationally.
The demand for tilapia is pretty high. If you are a fish farmer you want to grow fish that people will buy in volume.
The U.S. is the wealthiest market for export and the Tilapia is the fastest growing imported fish in the U.S.
According to Restaurant Magazine, "Tilapia is the #2 fish on U.S. restaurant menus and has grown more than 50% in each of the last 3 years"
Last year, more than 52 million pounds of fresh tilapia were exported to the United States, mostly from Latin America, as well as 422 million more pounds of frozen tilapia, both whole and fillet, nearly all from China, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The European Union is also a lucrative export market for tilapia
U.S. and European demand for tilapia is steadily increasing and the market for value-added tilapia fish products such as frozen fillets and prepared/prepackaged foods is growing even faster.
In addition, the market price for tilapia has been stable or increasing over the last several years as compared to other fish. Market prices for salmon, for example, have declined more than 50% in the last few years.
Will You Be Considering Raising Tilapia?
I’d like to open up the comments now and hear from you all about your own views.
Now that you Know some of these facts about the tilapia fish... Will you consider raising tilapia fish on your fish farm?
I would also love to hear from you if you already farm tilapia fish on your fish farm. It will be good to know your own views regarding tilapia fish farming. Please leave me a comment.
You will also find some additional materials to help you with starting up a tilapia farming business by clicking on the link below: