Oklahoma Tilapia Culture
“Originally found in Africa and the Near East, many different species of tilapia have been introduced around the world because of their suitability for aquaculture. Tilapia species have an excellent quality flesh that many people compare to crappie, are tolerant of poor water quality conditions, and grow well on low protein feeds. The leading technical problem in culturing tilapia is that they die when temperatures drop to about 50°F. Because of this, brood stock or fingerlings must be overwintered in heated indoor tanks or small ponds fed by naturally warm well or spring water. Another serious problem is frequent reproduction. This leads to overpopulated ponds and stunting if left uncontrolled. A promising species for culture is the cross between female Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and male blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus). Fish from this cross are almost all males, so unwanted reproduction is avoided. Further information is available in SRAC publications 280-282.” (Source: Getting Started in Aquaculture).
“Tilapia are now beginning to be marketed in the United States on a large scale. However, marketing studies conducted at Auburn University have indicated very good consumer acceptance of this fish when competitively priced and displayed with channel catfish. A survey of major producers by “Aquaculture” magazine and personal communications also suggest that present supplies do not meet market demand. Little or no national advertising or marketing promotions have been conducted for tilapia and the fish is sold under a variety of names which confuses consumer recognition.
These market names include: super fish, saint Peter’s fish, African perch, miracle fish and cherry snapper. Consumer recognition and acceptance should be expected to improve in the future. One problem associated with tilapia marketing is that in most parts of the country tilapia die during the winter so the fish must be harvested and either sold fresh or frozen by early winter. This adds up to a short season for fresh fish which currently is most preferable to the consumer. Most of the tilapia produced will have to be processed into frozen product. Strong demand and higher prices for out of season fresh fish may make over wintering facilities for tilapia economically attractive.
Tilapia are becoming more consistently available in food stores and organized promotions and marketing groups are now established. To date, domestic production is a small percentage of total tilapia sales in the U.S. Most tilapia are imported.” Source: Tilapia Culture in Cages and Open Ponds