Tag Archives: reproduction

Tilapia Farming in Egypt

A 2014 report on aquaculture in Egypt presents some interesting information:

  • Despite the pressure on water, Egypt has the largest aquaculture industry in Africa with a market value of over $1.3 billion.
  • The industry now provides 65% of the country’s fish needs, with virtually all the output coming from small and medium-scale privately owned farms.
  • The main farmed fish is Nile tilapia and Egypt is the world’s second largest producer of farmed tilapia after China. Grey mullet and carp are also farmed, sometimes in mixed ponds with tilapia.
  • From small levels of production in the early 1990s fish farming has expanded rapidly while capture fishing has remained fairly constant, even declining somewhat after peaking at the beginning of the 21st century.
  • Aquaculture is also important in providing employment to an estimated 100,000 people of whom 50% are youth.
  • With the exception of Fayoum, aquaculture takes place in the Nile Delta region and mainly around the Northern Lakes area.

Citation: Mur, R. 2014. Development of the aquaculture value chain in Egypt: Report of the National Innovation Platform Workshop, Cairo, 19-20 February 2014. Cairo: WorldFish.

An Industry Assessment of Tilapia Farming in Egypt
Prepared by:
Dr. Adel A. Shaheen, B.V.Sc., M.V.Sc., Ph.D.
Professor of fish diseases & management Head Department of fish diseases & management
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Benha University Moshtohor – Toukh – Egypt

2.5. Status of fish production in Egypt

Capture fisheries in Egypt are in decline due to; overfishing, pollution, illegal, unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU), relaxation in the implementation of laws and regulations, lack of interest in clearing Straits and waterways, poor sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture, illegal fishing operations of fry. In addition to the building of Aswan High Dam (that reduced the annual flood cycle of the Nile), the application of partial pond flushing, aeration and sex reversal are the major steps that contributed to the expansion,
intensification and growth of total tilapia production in ponds in Egypt.

The General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD) planned two-sided strategy aims to increase the productivity of freshwater aquaculture operations, while encouraging investment in marine aquaculture.

Finding more fish, between Egypt and Vietnam

A cooperation agreement between Egypt’s General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) inked in May sets a framework for joint fisheries development. The protocol encourages researchers, trainers and quality control technicians in the two countries to share data, and calls for exchange visits of fisheries and aquaculture officials

WorldFish Aquaculture Training Videos


Online aquaculture training videos now available to Egyptian fish farmers

A series of high quality aquaculture training videos, designed to teach Egyptian fish farmers the industry’s best management practices, has recently been released.

Produced by WorldFish, an international nonprofit research organization, the ten short videos are being used to train local fish farmers in the most effective ways to boost the production and quality of farmed fish.

Available in Arabic with English subtitles, the videos cover all aspects of aquaculture from pond preparation and fish health care, to how to transport and handle live fish.

“These videos are good learning tool for fish farmers to show them the industry’s best management practices in a simplified way”, says Dr. Diaa Al-Kenawy, Research Scientist at WorldFish.

“Both the trainers and the farmers found the videos very useful because they explain all fish farming stages from site selection and pond design to harvest and post-harvest treatment”, he adds.

The videos are part of the Improving Employment and Income through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project, which aims to strengthen and develop the country’s US$1.5 billion aquaculture industry and generate more employment in the sector.

The IEIDEAS project is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, which aims to increase the productivity of small-scale livestock and fish systems in sustainable ways, making meat, milk and fish more available and affordable to poor consumers across the developing world.

Strengthening the aquaculture industry in Egypt will help to secure the livelihoods of over 100,000 men and women employed in the sector, and ensure an affordable source of animal protein for the millions of poor who depend on fish.

While the videos are targeted at Egyptian fish farmers, they offer industry tips that will benefit pond-based aquaculture producers around the world.

Watch the videos. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_5s5CPGqCKQtv15flpx4UKDltm3JyEIM

About WorldFish

WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.


CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

For more information or to request an interview please contact:

Diane Shohet, Director, Communications and Marketing, WorldFish

Tel: +6017 474 8606

Email: d.shohet@cgiar.org

Worldwide Tilapia Production Continues Upward Trend

Tilapia is one of the most widely produced food fishes. Tilapia is farmed or harvested from wild populations in over 75 countries. This fish group has been widely recognized as an important food source in Asia and Africa for over 50 years, where until recently most of it was consumed locally. However, in the last two decades, there has been greater consumer acceptance of tilapia in North America and Europe and tilapia is now an important food source in these regions. Much of the tilapia consumed in North America and Europe is imported from Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

Tilapia is second to carp as the most popularly farmed fish. In 1994 worldwide production of farmed tilapia was 500,000 metric tons. By 2002 over 1.5 million metric tons of tilapia were produced. Production accelerated to almost 3.5 million metric tons by 2010.












China is the largest producer of tilapia farming 1,331,890 metric tons in 2010. This is over twice as much as Egypt (557,049 mt) and Indonesia (458,752 mt). As the chart shows, the majority of tilapia production takes place in Asia (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Taiwan), the Middle East (Egypt) and South America (Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador). By comparison, very little tilapia is produced in North America and the United States production  was 9,979 mt in 2010.

Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, a professor at the University of Arizona an noted tilapia expert, predicts that tilapia will surpass carp and become the most important aquaculture fish in the 21st century. Tilapia has a number of unique characteristics which favor its rise in popularity as an aquaculture species. These characteristics include high growth rate, ability to subsist on natural food sources, reproductive capability, and ability to tolerate a range of environments. Ongoing breeding programs now produce tilapia with faster growth rates and better fillet yield. Tilapia can be grown in high density and in polyculture systems with shrimp and other fish.

Comparison of Major Farmed Fishes

Comparison of Major Farmed Fishes

Source: Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, Potential to Increase Global Tilapia Production










Tilapia production values based on data sourced from the FishStat database

Global Tilapia Production and Market Situation 2012 – Tilapia Continues to Climb the Chart

Potential to Increase Global Tilapia Production

How to Sex Tilapia

Fish in general are difficult to sex and distinguishing male from female tilapia can be a challenge. Tilapia grown in pond culture can have a problem with excess reproduction. This can lead to stunted growth and lower production rates.

To prevent this problem, farmers can use monosex culture by separating the males from females. Typically, males are preferrred because they grow to a larger size and have greater profit potential.

You can look for physical differences between the sexes. The following description is from Tilapia: Life History and Biology by Thomas Popma and Michael Masser:

“The sex of a 1-ounce (25-gram) tilapia fingerling can be determined by examining the genital papilla located immediately behind the anus (Fig. 1). In males the genital papilla has only one opening (the urinary pore of the ureter) through which both milt and urine pass. In females the eggs exit through a separate oviduct and only urine passes through the urinary pore. Placing a drop of dye (methylene blue or food coloring) on the genital region helps to highlight the papilla and its openings.”

Fins and genital papilla of the Nile Tilapia.

Fins and genital papilla of the Nile Tilapia. (Credit: Tilapia: Life History and Biology by Thomas Popma and Michael Masser)










The following picture gives you a reference for differentiating the sex of tilapia.

Male and female tilapia are determined by viewing the genital papilla. The tilapia on the left is a male and on the right is a female tilapia. (Credit: Fish and Allied Aquaculture, Auburn Univ.)
















Home growers can use tilapia behavior to help sex their tilapia. Put a small number of tilapia in an aquarium along with some gravel. The male will typically dig a nest and defend it. Females will tend to hide unless they are spawning. You can remove males that display nesting behavior one by one and move them to separate containers. When the remaining fish no longer show nesting behavior, then you can assume they are all females. You can add one of the males back into the aquarium and start a breeding colony.

How to identify gender in tilapia

Environment Conditions for Raising Tilapia

Tilapia are able to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions, including high salinity, high temperatures, high ammonia concentrations, and low oxygen levels. This makes tilapia very suitable for aquafarming.


Although tilapia are freshwater fish, they can grow in elevated salinity conditions.

Salinity Tolerance for Growth
Nile Tilapia Grows well at salinities up to 15 ppt
Blue Tilapia Grows well at salinities up to 20 ppt
Mozambique Tilapia Grows well at salinities approaching seawater

Tilapia spawning is best in lower salinities. The fry perform better at salinities
less than 5 ppt.

Salinity Tolerance for Reproduction
Nile Tilapia Reproduce well at salinities up to 5-10 ppt
Blue Tilapia Reproduce well at salinities up to 5-10 ppt
Mozambique Tilapia Reproduce well at salinities up to 10-15 ppt


Tilapia are warm water fish and usually exposing them to temperatures lower than 50 to 52° F is lethal. Blue tilapia can tolerate somewhat temperatures down to 48° F. This limits tilapia commercial farming potential in temperate regions.

Tilapia Activity
Temperature Range
Feeding Stops below 63° F
Harvesting Stress and mortality from handling increases below 65° F
Reproduction Best above 80° F, no reproduction below 68° F
Growth Optimal from 82-85° F

Dissolved Oxygen

Tilapia are able to tolerate dissolved oxygen levels less than 0.3 mg/L, a level that would prove fatal to most other farmed fish.

Although tilapia can tolerate low oxygen levels, they grow best when oxygen levels are kept about 1 mg/L. For better growth, maintaining oxygen levels above 4 mg/L is preferable. This may require some aeration in high density cultivation situations.


Tilapia can survive in pH ranging from 5 to 10, but optimal pH is between 6
to 9.


The tilapia can tolerate high ammonia. Increasing ammonia concentrations increases the stress on the tilapia.

Ammonia Level
Effect on Tilapia
0.08 mg/L or above Depressed feeding
0.2 mg/L or above Some mortality occurs
1 mg/L or above Mortalities, particularly among fry and juveniles
2 mg/L or above Massive mortality


High concentrations of nitrate stresses fish because nitrate limits the ability of hemoglobin to transport oxygen within the body. Tilapia can tolerate higher nitrate levels than many other cultured freshwater fish.

For optimal cultivation, nitrate concentrations should be kept below 27 mg/L. To prevent nitrate problems in recirculating systems, chloride concentrations are often maintained at 100 to 150 mg/L chloride.


Popma, Thomas and Michael Masser, Tilapia: Life History and Biology, Southern Region Aquaculture Center, Pub. No. 283, 4p.

Broders, Adam, Matt Douville and Megan Slonski, Best Practices for Small to Medium Scale Tilapia Aquaculture, WPI, 2005, 102 p.