Uses

other


than

supplying


food
Tilapia

serve


as

a

natural,


biological


control


for


most


aquatic


plant


problems.


Tilapia


consume

floating


aquatic
plants,

such

as

duckweed


watermeal


(

Lemna

sp.),


most


"undesirable"


submerged


plants,


and

most


forms

of
algae.

In


the


United


States


and

countries

such

as

Thailand,


Tilapia


are


becoming


the


plant


control


method


of
choice,

reducing/eliminating


the


use

of


toxic

chemicals


and

heavy

metal

-

based


algaecides.
Tilapia

rarely


compete


with


other


"pond"

fish

for


food.


Instead,

because


tilapia

consume

plants

and

nutrients
unused

by

other


fish

species


and

substantially


reduce

oxygen


depleting

detritus,

adding


tilapia

often


increases
the

population,


size


and

health


of


other


fish.
Aquaculture

of


Tilapia
Tilapia
has

become

the


third


most


important


fish

in


aquaculture


after


carp


and
Salmon,

with


production

reaching


1,505,804


metric


tons


in


2002.


Because


of


their
large

size,

rapid


growth


and

good


taste

like


other


large


fish,


they


are


a

good


source


of
protein
and

a

popular


target

for


Artisan

fishing


and

commercial


fisheries.
Fishery

locations
Originally,

the


majority


of


such

fisheries


were

in


Africa,


but


accidental


and

deliberate
introductions
of


Tilapia


into

freshwater


lakes


in


Asia


have

led


to


outdoor


aquaculture
projects

in


countries

with


a

tropical


climate

such

as

Papua


New


Guinea,


the
Philippines,

and

Indonesia.

In


temperate


zone

localities,


Tilapia


farming


operations

require

energy

to


warm


the
water

to


the


tropical


temperatures


these


fish

require.


One


method


involves

warming


the


water


using


waste
heat

from

factories


and

power


stations.
Raising
Tilapia
Tilapia

are


also


among

the


easiest


and

most


profitable

fish

to


farm.


This


is


due

to


their


omnivorous

diet,


mode
of

reproduction

(the


fry

do

not


pass

through


a

planktonic


phase),


tolerance

of


high


stocking

density,


and

rapid
growth.

In


some


regions


the


fish

can

be

put


out


in


the


rice

fields


when


rice

is


planted,

and

will


have

grown


to
edible
size


(12


-

15

inches)


when


the


rice

is


ready


for


harvest.

One


recent


estimate


puts


annual


production

of
Tilapia

at


about


1.5


million


tons,


a

quantity


comparable


to


the


annual


production

of


farmed

Salmon


and

Trout.
Unlike

salmon,


which

rely

on

high

-

protein

feeds


based


on

fish

or


meat,


commercially


important


Tilapia


species
eat

a

vegetable


or


cereal


based


diet.


Tilapia


raised


in


inland

tanks


or


channels


are


considered


safe


for


the
environment,

since


their


waste

and

disease


should


be

contained


and

not


spread

to


the


wild.


Commercially
grown

Tilapia


are


almost


exclusively


male.


Being

prolific


breeders,


female


Tilapia


in


the


ponds/tanks


will


result
in

large


populations

of


small


fish.


Whole


Tilapia


fish

can

be

processed

into

skinless,


boneless


fillets:

the


yield
is

from

30%


to


37%,


depending

on

fillet


size


and

final


trim.
Nutritional
value
Tilapia

have

very


low


levels

of


mercury

as

they


are


fast

-

growing


and

short

-

lived

with


a

primarily


vegetarian
diet,

and

thus


do

not


accumulate

mercury

found


in


prey.


Tilapia


is


a

low


saturated

fat,


low


calorie,


low
carbohydrate

and

low


sodium

protein

source.


It

is


a

source


of


phosphorus,


niacin,


selenium,


vitamin

B12


and