The word ‘Tilapia’ itself tickles many taste buds. It is a popular food fish that can be cultivated in ponds with out much effort. It is also kept in aquariums. Tilapia forms a large genus in the cichlid group. The genus Tilapia, together with its cousins Oreochromis and Sarotherodon, belongs to the Tilapiini tribe in the subfamily Pseudocrenilabrinae. The most popular species of Tilapia aquarists are Zebra tilapia and Spotted tilapia. Nile tilapia and Mozambique tilapia are the most commonly cultivated food varieties. Blue Tilapia is another variety loved by farmers due to its cold tolerant nature. The salt tolerant variety of this fish is the Wami Tilapia and is thus best suited for brackish environments.
The traditional method of Tilapia cultivation is by letting it grow in ponds. Then it makes use of natural surroundings to flourish. In such cases, manure from chicken and pig farms is used as food for Tilapia. Of late, new methods of cultivation have been evolved for increased Tilapia breeding. Tank farming and cage farming are the main types of modern Tilapia cultivation. Tilapia is also used as an effective means of biological control against mosquitoes and aquatic weeds. Another positive aspect of Tilapia cultivation is that this fish variety easily adapts to any new environment.
Since male Tilapias grows faster than female Tilapias, all tilapia fingerlings get treated with male hormones so that those fish that would have turned out to be slow growing females would transform themselves to rapidly growing males. Through this method the farmer can reap more profit from the sale of fish since he can harvest more Tilapias.
Even governments now support the use of this reversal technique by allowing all tilapia farmers who wish to practise it to participate in this process. Now fish food that contains the male transformation hormone is available. However, farmers need to send reports to the concerned authorities regarding the effect of hormone treatment on Tilapia.