Florida Tilapia Culture


“Tilapia (consisting of several species and species hybrids) are extremely durable fish that can thrive in poor quality water on low-cost feeds derived from vegetable protein. They are grown by small farms throughout central and south Florida because of simplicity and ease of culture. Tilapia produced in tropical and sub-tropical countries (Asia and Central and South America) are imported in huge quantities and at low prices to dominate the U.S. grocery and food service markets. Other competing sources include an annual 3 to 4 million pound wild harvest of blue tilapia in central Florida that is sold in rural seafood markets in Florida , Georgia and Alabama and an end-of-summer harvested crop produced from Alabama watershed ponds. The Alabama harvest dramatically drives live prices downward during September and October to $0.75 to $0.90 per pound. Florida tilapia farms primarily market their live or fresh production locally to avoid seasonal price fluctuations and competition from imported products.

Tilapia are a perfect species to use in educational programs and 26 Florida elementary, middle or high schools as well as three Sheriff operated programs for troubled youth grow tilapia in pond or tank systems. Growing fish in the classroom is a unique educational tool that combines science, social studies, math, and language arts into a single course of study. There is also the end-of-year reward of a memorable dinner for students, parents, and faculty.”

Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Discover Florida Aquaculture (video)


We work with commercial farmers that are growing and selling aquacultural crops and for these activities there is a “permit” requirement, an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration, and specific rules that govern species, production systems and operations.  Information about Certification, an application form, and environmentally-oriented best management practices can be found here: http://www.floridaaquaculture.com/bad/bad_aquacertify.htm.

Relative to commercial tilapia production, the regulations that apply are essentially species oriented. In Florida, Oreochromis species (the genus to which tilapia belong) and their hybrids (along with Wami tilapia O. urolepis hornorum) are regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as “conditional species,” a FWC regulatory category that prohibits personal possession but allows for commercial culture through our Certification permit and with specific biosecurity requirements to minimize risk of introduction into Florida waters. No non-native species, including tilapia, may be introduced into Florida waters even though the blue tilapia, O. aureus, is widely distributed in the middle portion ofFlorida.

What are the regulations for possessing tilapia (Nile perch)?

Possession and transport of live tilapia in Florida is prohibited without a special permit (except blue tilapia). The prohibited species can only be possessed if dead, so anglers who catch and want to eat a tilapia, other than blue tilapia, should immediately place them on ice. The exception, blue tilapia, are legal to possess, culture or transport only in the Northeast, South and Southwest Regions, and in Citrus County. A region map is on the Web at: http://myfwc.com/contact/contact-fwc-staff/regional-offices/. Permits are not given to possess prohibited species except for viewing at large public aquaria or for research, provided Commission-approved maximum security requirements are met.It is illegal to stock tilapia in public waters. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has special permits and licenses for culture in private ponds that have adequate protection to prevent the escape of the fish. To learn more about tilapia you can visit our non-native fishes page at http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/fish/nonnative-fish/.In Florida, there are two agencies primarily responsible for regulating the use of non-native species in aquaculture—the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS), Division of Aquaculture. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) of the University of Florida assists these agencies by conducting research related to non-native species and by providing extension services to the aquaculture industry. In addition to these state agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regulates the importation of wildlife species (including fish and other aquatic organisms) and their interstate trade. This publication provides a brief overview of the roles of each agency and the regulations pertaining to the use of non-native fish in Florida aquaculture.Aquaculture Certificates

Regulations Pertaining to Non-native Fish in Florida Aquaculture



  1. Is there a short and simple answer to
    Am I able to farm tilapia in a farm pond for personal consumption in Lafayette County Florida?
    I have read several online articles and don’t feel like I understand what may be required, if allowed.

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