Virginia Tilapia Culture

Virginia has a diverse aquaculture industry that encompasses fresh water to salt (marine) water, to warm water to cold water and includes fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Tilapia is considered a warm water fish that can only be raised in enclosed building (barn, greenhouse or other structure) and in an enclosed production system (and these are usually recirculating systems). (Source: Robins Buck, Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

Blue Ridge Aquaculture located in Martinsville, Virginia raises nearly 4 million pounds of tilapia each year and is the world’s largest indoor producer of tilapia.


To be able to raise tilapia, you must obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and this permit is renewable annually. You can contact Mr. Ed Steinkoenig of DGIF at 804-367-0585 or

“Virginia’s Finest” Standards for Farm-Raised Tilapia (PDF)

Business Planning

For business planning assistance, go to and then click/hover on Virginia SBDC Offices and State Map to find the SBDC Office that services your area; call them and make an appointment for a business consultant to be assigned to you for development of your Business Plan (this is either free or for a very nominal fee). Also, you can go to VA FAIRS at  and look down the left side for all kinds of information but especially look at Business Plans under Assistance and the Virtual Business Center under resources; you could do a Business Plan here before calling on your area SBDC Office. (Source: Robins Buck, Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

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