Oreochromis mossambicus


(Mozambique Tilapia, Tilapia)




Oreochromis mossambicus

Common name(s)

Mozambique Tilapia, Tilapia

Main colour(s)

Silvery to dark grey-brown

Body size

Usually about 20-25 cm long but may be to 44cm




Deep-bodied fish; males are much larger than females. The breeding male is dark grey to black with a white or yellow patch over the gill covers and red margins on the dorsal and caudal fins. The single dorsal fin has several spines as well as rays; the pelvic and anal fins also have a few stout spines. Posterior margins of the anal and dorsal fins extended and appear symmetrical. Jaws of adult males are large and prominent compared with females. Juveniles are grey to silvery with feint vertical and lateral bars and a distinct black ‘tilapia’ spot on posterior margin of dorsal fin. Native to eastern coastal Africa where it inhabits lower reaches of large slow rivers and lagoons. Has wide ecological tolerances (pH, temperature, oxygen) and can live in fresh and salt water. It is omnivorous and feeds predominantly on detritus and live plant material (algae, water weeds), but will also eat small invertebrates, tadpoles and also small fish and their eggs.