Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) fish species and information / pictures of Mozambique tilapia - Oreochromis mossambicus

Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) fish species information

Scientific Name
Oreochromis mossambicus

Common Name
Mozambique tilapia

Thrives in standing waters (Ref. 7248, 12501). Inhabits reservoirs, rivers, creeks, drains, swamps and tidal creeks; commonly over mud bottoms, often in well-vegetated areas (Ref. 44894). Also found in warm weedy pools of sluggish streams, canals, and ponds (Ref. 5723). Most common in blind estuaries and coastal lakes (Ref. 32693), but usually absent from permanently open estuaries and open sea (Ref. 6465) and from fast-flowing waters (Ref. 7248, 12501). Normally not found at high altitudes (Ref. 6465). Able to survive extreme reduction of temporary waterbodies (Ref. 2, 27445). Highly euryhaline (Ref. 2, 3, 23, 58, 61, 6465, 12501, 12522, 12524, 13337, 27445, 55352). Grows and reproduces in fresh-, brackish and seawater (Ref. 2, 21, 23, 61, 5214, 27445, 36683, 54362). Can be reared under hyper-saline conditions (Ref. 4537, 44894, 52307). Tolerates low dissolved oxygen levels (Ref. 3, 23, 6465) and can utilise atmospheric oxygen when water oxygen levels drop (Ref. 61, 6465). Mainly diurnal. May form schools (Ref. 3, 4537, 44894). Omnivorous (Ref. 21, 12524), feeds mainly on algae and phytoplankton (Ref. 4537, 7248, 12501, 12522, 12524, 13337, 36683, 44894, 52307) but also takes some zooplankton, small insects and their larvae (Ref. 4537, 7248, 12524, 13337, 44894, 52307), shrimps (Ref. 12524, 13337), earthworms (Ref. 12501) and aquatic macrophytes (Ref. 6465). Juvenile carnivorous/omnivorous, adult tends to be herbivorous or detritus feeder (Ref. 2, 6465, 13517). Large specimen has been reported to prey on small fishes (Ref. 2, 6465, 12501, 12522), and occasionally cannibalise their own young (Ref. 2, 6465). Exhibits considerable plasticity in its feeding habits (Ref. 6465, 13544) as well as in its reproductive biology (Ref. 13544). Polygamous (Ref. 12524, 13337), maternal mouthbrooder (Ref. 1, 5214, 12524, 13337). Reaches sexual maturity at 15 centimeter length (Ref. 44894), but stunted fish may breed at 6-7 centimeters and at an age of just over 2 months (Ref. 52307). Fecundity high (Ref. 55352). Extended temperature range 8-42 °C, natural temperature range 17-35°C (Ref. 3), with salinity-dependent difference in temperature tolerance (Ref. 2, 23). Somewhat aggressive toward other species (Ref. 36683). Marketed fresh and frozen (Ref. 9987). Excellent palatability (Ref. 6465), with small head and large dress-out weight (Ref. 61), and filets without small bones (Ref. 57960). Used extensively in biological, physiological and behavioural research (Ref. 7248). Translocated and introduced for aquaculture, sport fishing, stocking man-made lakes and biological control of nuisance plants and animals (Ref. 6465). Eurytopic; a most successful and vagile invader


Classified By
Peters, 1852
Ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii)
Perch-like fish (Perciformes)
Cichlids (Cichlidae)


Africa: Lower Zambezi, Lower Shiré and coastal plains from Zambezi delta to Algoa Bay. Occurs southwards to the Brak River in the eastern Cape and in the Transvaal in the Limpopo system (Ref. 6465). Widely introduced for aquaculture, but escaped and established itself in the wild in many countries, often outcompeting local species (Ref. 12217). Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction
13°S - 35°S


Water Temperature From
17 °C
Water Temperature To
35 °C
Depth From - meters
1 m
Depth To - meters
12 m
Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 1 - 12 m
Trophic Level
2 s.e. 0.00 Based on diet studies.
Occurs in Marine / Salt water
Occurs in Brackish water
Occurs in Fresh Water
Occurs on Reefs
Is kept in Aquariums

Physical Size and Genetics

Maximum Length
39.0 cm
Common Length
35.0 cm
Phylogenetic Diversity Index
PD50 = 0.5000 many relatives (e.g. carps) 0.5 - 2.0 few relatives (e.g. lungfishes)

Human Uses and Population

Human Uses
Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
Low to moderate vulnerability (32 of 100)
Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.2-0.5; tm
Threat To Humans
  Potential pest
IUCN Red List Status
  Near Threatened (NT)