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Brief Summary

    Oreochromis aureus: Brief Summary
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    The blue tilapia or Oreochromis aureus, is a species of fish in the family Cichlidae. 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. It is known as blue kurper in South Africa.

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    Brief Summary
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    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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    16129538

Comprehensive Description

Morphology

    Morphology
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    Dorsal spines (total): 14 - 17; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11 - 15; Analspines: 3; Analsoft rays: 8 - 11; Vertebrae: 28 - 31
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    Crispina B. Binohlan
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    FB-Morphology-1387

Diagnostic Description

    Diagnostic Description
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    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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    FB-DiagnosticDescr-1387

Migration

    Migration
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    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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    FB-Migration-1387

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
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    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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Diseases and Parasites

    Diseases and Parasites
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    Saccocoelioides Infection. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    Allan Palacio
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    FB-Diseases-1387-1261
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Goezia Disease 2. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    FB-Diseases-1387-1263
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Gnathostoma Disease (larvae). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    Allan Palacio
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    FB-Diseases-1387-1267
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Ichthyobodo Infection 2. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    Allan Palacio
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    FB-Diseases-1387-1549
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Whirling Viral Disease of Tilapia Larvae. Viral diseases
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    Allan Palacio
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    FB-Diseases-1387-1592
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Sanguinicola Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    Allan Palacio
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    FB-Diseases-1387-34
    Diseases and Parasites
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    Centrocestus Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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    FB-Diseases-1387-456

Life Cycle

    Life Cycle
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    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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    FB-LifeCycle-1387

Threats

    Threats
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    Not Evaluated
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    FB-Threats-1387

Benefits

    Importance
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    fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; aquarium: commercial; bait: usually
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    Susan M. Luna
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    FB-Uses-1387