Overview

Brief Summary

Native to Africa and the Middle East, Oreochromis aureus, commonly known as blue tilapia, is a cichlid fish that has been widely introduced around the world to countries including the United States, Central and South America, southeast Asia, Polynesia and Africa as a low cost, high protein food source. Blue tilapia are hardy, tolerant of a wide range of temperatures (8-30 degrees C), salinities and water qualities, and easy to rear in aquaculture (for this they are sometimes referred to as the “aquatic chicken”). However, this species is also aggressive and dominates other species in non-native environments; in many places, populations that have escaped and become established are difficult to manage and have caused displacement and decline of endemic species as well as significant disruption of fish ecosystems. The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) has declared O. aureus one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. (Global Invasive Species Database, Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) a; Global Invasive Species Database, Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) b; Wikipedia 2012)

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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Cold tolerant (Ref. 23, 61, 55352), occuring at temperatures ranging from 8°-30°C (Ref. 2), tolerating up to 41 °C (Ref. 23). Tolerates fairly brackish conditions (Ref. 3, 23, 61, 2001, 6465, 54362). Forms schools; is sometimes territorial; inhabits warm ponds and impoundments as well as lakes and streams (Ref. 5723, 11028), in open water as well as among stones and vegetation (Ref. 11028). Feeds on phytoplankton and small quantities of zooplankton (Ref. 3, 61, 6465, 52307). Young fish have a more varied diet which includes large quantities of copepods and cladocerans (Ref. 2, 61, 6465), but they also take pieces of small invertebrates (Ref. 52307). Ovophilic, agamous (Ref. 52307), maternal mouthbrooder (Ref. 364, 52307). Sexual maturity in ponds reached at age of 5-6 months (Ref. 55352). Reproduces in both fresh and brackish water (Ref. 61, 5723). Good taste (Ref. 61).
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Distribution

Africa and Eurasia: Jordan Valley, Lower Nile, Chad Basin, Benue, middle and upper Niger, Senegal River (Ref. 21). Introduced in the oasis of Azraq (Jordan) as well as in warm water ponds of USA, South and Central America and South East Asia. At least one country reports adverse ecological impact after introduction.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Native to tropical and subtropical Africa and Middle East (Fuller et al. 1999). Now more widely distributed across Africa. Established in parts of Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas; possibly established in Colorado, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania; reported from Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas (Fuller et al. 1999).

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Eurasia and Africa; introduced widely elsewhere.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 14 - 17; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11 - 15; Analspines: 3; Analsoft rays: 8 - 11; Vertebrae: 28 - 31
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Size

Maximum size: 370 mm SL
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Max. size

45.7 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 40637)); max. published weight: 2,010 g (Ref. 40637)
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Length: 51 cm

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Diagnostic Description

Diagnosis: Adults: narrow preorbital bone (depth max. 21.5% of head length in fishes up to 21.3cm SL); lower pharyngeal jaw with short blade; no enlargement of the jaws in mature fish (lower jaw not exceeding and usually less than 36.8% head length) (Ref. 2). Caudal without regular dark vertical stripes (Ref. 2, 53405, 54467), but with a broad pink to bright red distal margin (Ref. 2). Breeding males assume an intense bright metallic blue on the head, a vermilion edge to the dorsal fin and a more intense pink on the caudal margin (Ref. 2, 54467). Breeding females with the edges of dorsal and caudal fins in a paler more orange color (Ref. 2). Juveniles: upper line of head profile running upward from snout at sharp angle; lower pharyngeal bone nearly triangular, teeth numerous but not densely crowded; dorsal and anal fin striped, with stripes running obliquely on the soft dorsal and longitudinally on the caudal fin; black Tilapia-mark on soft dorsal present; body dark; lower lip developed from beneath (Ref. 54566).Description: deep bodied; teeth very small, typical for an algae feeder (Ref. 52307), in 3-5 rows in the jaws, bicuspid in the outermost (Ref. 2, 53405, 54467), tricuspid in the others (Ref. 2, 54467). Lower pharyngeal bone with bicuspid teeth, its toothed part as long as anterior part (Ref. 53405). Scales cycloid (Ref. 367, 2756, 54408), with fringes of the embedded part almost straight (Ref. 54408). Scales on cheek in 2-3 horizontal series; 5-7 scales between base of pectoral and pelvic fin (Ref. 2, 54467). 13.5-14.5 scales below upper lateral line before the pelvic fins (Ref. 367). 2 scales between upper and lower lateral line (Ref. 367, 2756). Upper lateral line with 20-23 scales, lower with 14-18 scales (Ref. 367, 2756). Microbranchiospines present on outer sides of arches 2 to 4 (Ref. 2). Dorsal fin edge thickened and notches between lappets closed in fully ripe males (Ref. 364, 54467). Last dorsal spine the longest (Ref. 367, 2756). Third anal spine a little shorter than last dorsal spine (Ref. 2, 2756, 54467), but stronger (Ref. 2, 54467). Pelvics not greatly produced; caudal often with rounded corners, usually scaly only at the base and between rays on upper and lower parts of the fin; genital papilla of mature male conical or with narrow bifid flange (Ref. 2, 54467).Coloration: Juveniles: grey-brown to slightly golden (Ref. 52307), with vertical bars on sides (Ref. 53405). Specimens
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

benthopelagic; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish; depth range 5 - ? m
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Habitat Type: Freshwater

Comments: Warm ponds and impoundments, including power plant cooling reservoirs; tidal creeks. Able to live and reproduce in fresh and brackish water. Lower temperature tolerance is about 13 C, but can tolerate 5 C for brief periods in freshwater. Annually stocked in ponds and lakes in Alabama.

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Migration

Potamodromous. Migrating within streams, migratory in rivers, e.g. Saliminus, Moxostoma, Labeo. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Cold tolerant (Ref. 61), occuring at temperatures ranging from 8°-30°C, with small size fish less tolerant to low temperatures than larger specimens (Ref. 2). Tolerates fairly brackish conditions (Ref. 3, 61, 2001, 6465, 54362), with small specimens less tolerant than larger ones (Ref. 96, 54403, 54459) and ontogenetic changes in salinity tolerance related to body size rather than to chronological age (Ref. 54403, 54459). Forms schools; is sometimes territorial; inhabits warm ponds and impoundments as well as lakes and streams (Ref. 5723, 11028), in open water as well as among stones and vegetation (Ref. 11028). Omnivorous (Ref. 61, 52307), but with a tendency towards a vegetarian diet (Ref. 52307). Feeds on phytoplankton and small quantities of zooplankton (Ref. 3, 61, 6465, 52307). Young fish have a more varied diet which includes large quantities of copepods and cladocerans (Ref. 2, 61, 6465), but they also take pieces of small invertebrates (Ref. 52307). Particulate feeder during larval and juvenile stages, filter feeder when adult (Ref. 46977). Ovophilic, agamous (Ref. 52307), maternal mouthbrooder (Ref. 364, 52307). Reproduces in both fresh and brackish water (Ref. 61, 5723).
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Comments: Eats mainly phytoplankton.

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Diseases and Parasites

Whirling Viral Disease of Tilapia Larvae. Viral diseases
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Sanguinicola Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Saccocoelioides Infection. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Ichthyobodo Infection 2. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Goezia Disease 2. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Gnathostoma Disease (larvae). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Centrocestus Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Nesting usually in shallow water weedy areas (Ref. 96). Males establish territory and dig a spawning pit (Ref. 2, 6465, 54601), using mouth and fins (Ref. 2), up to 60cm deep and 4-6m in diameter; a number of territories can often be found clustered together (Ref. 52307). Territories are defended by means of agressive behaviour (Ref. 6465), including lateral display, lateral biting and mouth-to-mouth combat (Ref. 2). Reproduction is stimulated by long photoperiods and inhibited by short daylengths (Ref. 54365). Reproduction requires a minimum temperature of about 20°C (Ref. 2). Males visit schools of females and attempt to attract a female spawning partner (Ref. 2, 52307). Courting behaviour in the nest consists of lateral display by both sexes with nipping and tail-flapping (Ref. 2). Eggs are deposited in single clutches, from several dozen to 100 eggs (Ref. 52307), and are taken into the females mouth as soon as they are fertilized (Ref. 2, 6465, 52307), with a peak spawning frequency around the 9-11th hour of light (Ref. 31140, 54365). One female may hold up to 2000 eggs in her mouth (Ref. 2). The female swims away to deeper water with the brood after spawning is complete (Ref. 2, 52307), while the male renews spawning activities with another female. Hatching occurs about 3 days after oviposition (Ref. 2). Incubation time varies with temperature, 13-14 days at 25-27°C (Ref. 2, 52307) or 8-10 days at 29°C (Ref. 144), and juveniles leave the mother's mouth when they are about 1.1cm in length (Ref. 54601). The young school near parent's head for a few days, reentering the mouth at any sign of danger or at a gesture of the female; parent-offspring relationship ceases after 5 days (Ref. 2).
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Reproduction

Maternal mouthbrooder. Requires water temperature of 20 C for spawning.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Oreochromis aureus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 34 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TCAACAAATCATAAAGATATTGGCACCCTCTATCTAGTATTTGGTGCTTGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGAACCGCGCTA---AGCCTCCTAATTCGGGCAGAACTAAGCCAGCCCGGCTCTCTCCTCGGAGAC---GACCAGATTTATAATGTAATTGTTACAGCACATGCTTTTGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCAATTATGATTGGAGGCTTTGGAAACTGACTAGTACCACTCATG---ATTGGTGCCCCAGATATGGCCTTCCCTCGAATGAACAACATGAGTTTCTGACTCCTCCCTCCCTCATTCCTCCTCCTCCTCGCCTCATCTGGAGTCGAAGCAGGTGCCGGCACAGGGTGAACTGTTTACCCCCCGCTCGCAGGCAATCTTGCCCATGCTGGGCCTTCTGTCGACTTA---ACCATCTTCTCCCTCCACTTGGCCGGGGTGTCATCTATTCTAGGCGCAATTAATTTCATTACAACAATCATTAACATGAAACCCCCCGCCATCTCTCAATATCAAACACCCCTATTTGTATGGTCCGTTCTAATTACCGCAGTATTACTTCTTCTATCCCTACCCGTTCTTGCCGCC---GGCATCACAATACTTCTCACAGACCGAAACCTAAACACAACCTTCTTTGATCCTGCCGGAGGAGGA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Oreochromis aureus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 36
Specimens with Barcodes: 54
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Threats

Not Evaluated
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Management

Management Requirements: Hales (1991) recommended that the Georgia population be eradiacated, if possible.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; aquarium: commercial; bait: usually
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Economic Uses

Comments: Widely used for control of aquatic vegetation (despite little if any demonstrated success). Juveniles used as bait (Hales 1991).

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Risks

Species Impact: Regarded as an undesirable exotic in the U.S.; in many lakes in Florida and Texas it is adversly affecting reproduction of native centrarchids (Courtenay and Stauffer 1984). Implicated in declines of native freshwater mussels and threatens some endangered fishes in Texas (R. G. Howells, pers. comm., 2003; see also Fuller et al. 1999). See Hales (1991) for additional references on detrimental effects of introduced populations.

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Wikipedia

Oreochromis aureus

Oreochromis aureus (commonly known as Blue Tilapia or Israeli Tilapia) is a species of fish in the Cichlidae family. Native to Northern and Western Africa, and the Middle East, through introductions it is now also established elsewhere, including parts of the United States, where it has been declared an invasive species and has caused significant environmental damage.[1] It is known as Blue Kurper in South Africa.[2]

Description[edit]

The Blue Tilapia is a freshwater fish with a high tolerance for brackish water. Adults are usually 5 to 8 inches (130 to 200 mm) in length[1] and weigh 5 to 6 pounds (2.3 to 2.7 kg);[3] the largest recorded specimen was more than 21 inches (53 cm) long and weighed more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg).[3] Blue Tilapia are mouthbrooders, and broods range from 160 to 1600 eggs per female.[1] O. aureus is primarily herbivorous, but will occasionally consume zooplankton;[1] the young include small invertebrates in their diet. [4]

Range[edit]

Oreochromis aureus is native to Northern and Western Africa, and the Middle East, from the Senegal, Niger, Benue and lower Nile rivers in Africa to the Jordan River in the Middle East.[4] Through introductions the fish can be found in the United States in Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Nevada. It has also been established in Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.[4] The original stocks of O. aureus in the United States were from Israel.[5]

Invasive species[edit]

Since its introduction into Florida in 1961[3] the fish has increased its range and frequency of occurrence. It is now the most widespread foreign species in Florida, with established populations as far north as Lake Alice, in Gainesville, Florida.[5] It is a major management problem for the National Park Service due to its predominance in Taylor Slough in Everglades National Park, where it has changed the fish community structure.[5] The species is also expanding its range in Texas, is responsible for inhibition of the population of Largemouth Bass in Lake Trinidad, and is implicated in the unionid mussel declines in two bodies of water in Texas.[5] It is also blamed for a severe decline in native fish populations in Warm Springs Natural Area.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Fact Sheet for Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner, 1864)". Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  2. ^ "Blue Kurper". Flyloops. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  3. ^ a b c "Florida's Exotic Freshwater Fishes". State of Florida, Division of Freshwater Fisheries. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  4. ^ a b c "Oreochromis aureus". FishBase. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "NAS Species Fact Sheet". US Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Has been confused with Tilapia nilotica in much of the literature (Lee et al. 1980). Formerly known as Tilapia aurea.

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