Tilapia are a fantastic fish. They can be easy and rewarding to breed. They are widely used in commercial fisheries and a great choice for home Tilapia Farming or aquaponics setups.
Tilapia as a common name has been applied to various cichlids. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Tilapia have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the Middle East, and they are of increasing importance in aquaculture and aquaponics recirculating systems. Tilapia can become an invasive species in new warm-water habitats, but generally not in temperate climates due to their inability to survive in waters cooler than about 21 °C. Other than their temperature sensitivity, tilapia exist in or can adapt to a very wide range of conditions. Tilapia, nicknamed “aquatic chicken” is the world’s second most farmed fish with millions of tonnes being farmed each year.
There are many articles that can be found on the internet stating tilapia is not a healthy choice. All of these stories are founded upon the poor fishing practices in China. China supplies the lion’s share of the tilapia sold around the world so their practices have a major and poor impact on the perception of tilapia as a healthy food. Extremely poor practices in China such as overcrowding of grow out ponds, rotten and filthy facility conditions, and the lack of Food and Safety programs cause significant issues. Overcrowding causes health problems with the fish resulting in diseased fish or heavy medical treatment with mass antibiotics to ensure the fish lives to harvest age. Poor water quality and poor food supply only heightens the problem. When they do harvest their fish they typically add some coloring and flavoring to the fillet and send it off to distributers around the world. I suggest you do not buy farm raised fish from anyone outside of North America and a handful of other South American countries.
Tilapia themselves are very healthy for you it’s the conditions they are raised in by some of the larger suppliers that cause them to be a problem. Tilapia farmed in the US, and Canada are of high quality and do not suffer the issues China produced fish do. The Canadian industry is highly regulated and inspected to ensure facilities produce clean, healthy fish. Another option that we are huge fans of, is raising them ourselves and helping you to do the same. This way you know what you feed the fish and what conditions they are grown in, so you know exactly what you are getting.
Some health facts and nutritional information about Canadian or home raised tilapia.
Tilapia is mild flavored and appealing to people who don’t like fish that tastes “fishy”. It is a white-fleshed freshwater fish that is relatively low in calories and rich in protein. It has very little fat—2 to 3 grams per serving.
Serving Size: 3.5 oz. (100g)
Calories: 128 kcal
Protein: 26 g
Carbohydrate: 0 g
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Unsaturated fat: 2 g
Transfat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 57 mg
Fiber: 0 g
As you can see, tilapia will provide you with plenty of protein without adding many calories to your diet and it contains no carbohydrates.
Some further diet info
Selenium: 54.40 mcg (78% DV)
Vitamin B12: 1.86 mcg (31% DV)
Niacin: 4.74 mg (24% DV)
Phosphorus: 204.00 mg (20% DV)
Potassium: 380 mg (11% DV)
Tilapia is an excellent source of phosphorus, niacin, selenium and vitamin B12, and a good source of potassium.
There are many species of Tilapia. The most common species you will hear talked about are Blue, Nile, Mozambique and Wami. In addition to these pure breeds there are many hybrid’s. Hybrid fish will go by many names online and it can get quite confusing to try and understand exactly what you are buying. This happens because most re-sellers do not use the word hybrid in the name and make up some fancy sounding name to help them confuse buyers and generate more sales. In our species guide, we will discuss the pure breeds and the most common hybrid breeds. We will cover the pros and cons of each one so you can make the best decision for your particular application.
Licensing in Canada
In Canada a license is typically required to purchase live tilapia or sell tilapia for consumption. There is more information in our Licensing guide if you are looking for province specific requirements.