Search This Blog

Reproduction of Tilapia

In all Oreochromis species the male excavates a nest in the pond bottom (generally in water shallower than 3 feet) and mates with several females. After a short mating ritual the female spawns in the nest (about two to four eggs per gram of brood female), the male fertilizes the eggs, and she then holds and incubates the eggs in her mouth (buccal cavity) until they hatch. Fry remain in the female’s mouth through yolk sac absorption and often seek refuge in her mouth for several days after they begin to feed. Sexual maturity in tilapia is a function of age, size and environmental conditions. The Mozambique tilapia reaches sexual maturity at a smaller size and younger age than the Nile and Blue tilapias. Tilapia populations in large lakes mature at a later age and larger size than the same species raised in small farm ponds. For example, the Nile tilapia matures at about 10 to 12 months and 3/4 to 1 pound (350 to 500 grams) in several East African lakes. Under good growth conditions this same species will reach sexual maturity in farm ponds at an age of 5 to 6 months and 5 to 7 ounces (150 to 200 grams). When growth is slow, sexual maturity in Nile tilapia is delayed a month or two but stunted fish may spawn at a weight of less than 1 ounce (20 grams). Under good growing conditions in ponds, the Mozambique tilapia may reach sexual maturity in as little as 3 months of age, when they seldom weigh more than 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 100 grams). In poorly fertilized ponds sexually mature Mozambique tilapia may be as small as 1/2 ounce (15 grams). Fish farming strategies that prevent overcrowding and stunting include: 1) cage farming where eggs fall through the mesh to the pond bottom before the female can collect them for brooding; 2) polyculture with a predator fish, such as fingerling largemouth bass, at 400 per acre; and 3) culture of only males (monosex). All-male culture is desirable in ponds not only to prevent overpopulation and stunting but also because males grow about twice as fast as females. Methods of obtaining predominately male fish include: 1) manually separating the sexes based on visual examination of the genital papilla of juvenile fish (“hand-sexing”); 2) hybridizing between two selected species that produce all-male offspring (for example, Nile or Mozambique females crossed with Blue or Zanzibar males); 3) feeding a male hormone-treated feed to newly hatched fry for 3 to 4 weeks to produce reproductively functional males (“sex reversal”); or 4) YY male technology (currently under development and not yet a commercial option). The sex of a 1-ounce (25-gram) tilapia fingerling can be determined by examining the genital papilla located immediately behind the anus (Fig. 1). In males the genital papilla has only one opening (the urinary pore of the ureter) through which both milt and urine pass. In females the eggs exit through a separate oviduct and only urine passes through the urinary pore. Placing a drop of dye (methylene blue or food coloring) on the genital region helps to highlight the papilla and its openings.

No comments:

Health Articles

An Open Letter regarding recent reports that low-fat fish like tilapia are unhealthy. (July 16, 2008)

Eating fish, especially oily fish, at least twice per week is recommended for heart disease prevention. Fish is low in total and saturated fats, high in protein and essential trace minerals, and contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Oily fish rich in these healthy omega-3s include salmon, trout, albacore tuna, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Our omega-3 needs can also be met by eating less-oily (lower-fat) fish more often.

Tilapia and catfish are examples of lower-fat fish that have fewer omega-3s than the oily fish listed above, but still provide more of these heart-healthy nutrients than hamburger, steak, chicken, pork or turkey. Actually, a 3 ounce serving of these fish provides over 100 mg of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Considering that this is about the current daily intake of these fatty acids in the US, even these fish should be considered better choices than most other meat alternatives. Since they are also relatively low in total and saturated fats and high in protein, they clearly can be part of a healthy diet.

US Department of Agriculture statistics indicate that farmed tilapia and catfish contain somewhat more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. Most health experts (including organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association) agree that omega-6 fatty acids are, like omega-3s, heart-healthy nutrients which should be a part of everyone's diet. Omega-6 fatty acids are found primarily in vegetable oils (corn, soybean, safflower, etc) but also in salad dressings, nuts, whole-wheat bread, and chicken.

Replacing tilapia or catfish with "bacon, hamburgers or doughnuts" is absolutely not recommended.


William S. Harris, PhD, FAHA
Sr. Scientist and Director
Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center
Sanford Research/USD
Sioux Falls, SD
(605) 328-1304