TILAPIA fish farming South Africa

TILAPIA fish – This is the common name but refers many fish species that fall under the Tilapia breed. The tilapia types that are indigenous to Southern African and are suited to aquaculture, or fish farming (mainly for food fish) are “Tilapia rendalli” and “Oreochromis mossambicus”

TILAPIA fish are found in almost every fresh water body in South Africa. They are found in the Limpopo River basin and along the eastern coastline right up to Port Alfred. Tilapia survive in water temperatures as low as 15°C and right up to 42°C. For aquaculture purposes they are happiest in temperatures from 28°C – 30°C.

Tilapia are simple to breed and are fast growing – ideal for fish farming. Tilapia’s taste is appreciated by many indigenous people. Many first time fish farmers are turning this hard fish into commercial farming operations – and this is being noticed by government.

There market for tilapia fish in South Africa is small – but there is a growing interest – the largest market is the USA. What does exist in South Africa is a market for inexpensive fish that are also high in protein – and the tilapia fits this criteria. Tilapia farming goes back in history – because of its protein and abundance.

Poular species of tilapia fish  for aquaculture.

  1. Oreochromis niloticus -Nile tilapia
  2. Oreochromis aureus -Blue tilapia
  3. Oreochromis mossambicus -Mozambique Tilapia

Hybrids of tilapia species have been grown and are used around the world.





Most of the planets tilapia crop is is sent to the USA (95%).The rest of the worl is catching on – especially as the demand for to white fish increases. As the planet becomes more concerned with the environment and the state of the oceans, tilapia farming and tilapia cultivation becomes a viable alternative.

Tilapia Fish Farming – what you need to know to start a tilapia fish farm.

  •     What water is available and the continued supply thereof?
  •     Do you have a suitable site or dam?
  •     Is the place you wish to fish farm a suitable area for the species of fish – are they warm water or cold water fish?
  •     Where can you sell them are they popular do you have a market for the species you plan on farming?
  •     What is the availability of fish feed in your area? – Supply of fish food
  •     Can you get finger-lings (baby fish to farm with)?
  •     What are the legal aspects of fish farming in your area – do you have to have an impact study done – are you zoned for agriculture?
  • Do you know enough about aquaculture to make a success of it? – like any farming business – it requires a solid knowledge of fish farming practises. Tuition and Training in fish-farming – procedures and protocols, management, best practices. Tuition and Training in hatchery management.
  • How much money do you have – ponds, pumps, land – they all cost money – if you plan to make a profit you will need a good fish farming business plan. Can you get government funding or a government grant for fish farming? – Funding – government grants, private funders, partnerships
  • Do you have a fish slaughter plant near you – or how do you plan to sell the fish? -    Processing of fish.  Transportation of fish and fingerlings. Cost of transport.
  • Construction of the fish farm – who, where, what and how much?

You may wish to make use of a Fish Farming design and consultancy service.

Other fish used in fish farming include:

  • Common carp
  • Gold fish
  • African sharptooth catfish
  • Rainbow Trout

Interesting, and disgusting facts, about fish farming:

  • Parasites – Parasites nibble at the fish, which causes their scales to fall off and create  sores. In very crowded dams, lice can eat the fish right down to the bone on the face. This condition has become known as the “death crown.”

  • Up to 40 percent of farmed fish die while the aquafarmer is farming – The fish which are left are not fed before they are sent for slaughtering so that the water is not contaminated while transporting them. An example are Salmon, they are not fed for 10 days before transporting to the slaughter house.

  • 5 pounds of fish from the ocean are needed to produce just 1 pound of sea bass or salmon.
  • Slaughter plants do not stun the fish before slaughter…..The fish are fully conscious – their gills are cut, and they are left to bleed to death – the fish convulse with pain during this process.
  • Larger species of fish, like salmon, are killed by being struck the head using a wooden club – it is called a “priest,”. More often than not the fish is still alive as they are filleted. The smaller species of fish, are sometimes not even killed – they are packed on ice and are left to die – very cruel as fish are cold blooded and it takes a long while for them to die. Other times the water is just drained from the tank so the fish suffocate.

  • Many fish in a fish farm go blind from parasites – and as this does not affect the price nothing is done about it.
  • Larger fish eat the smaller fish in crowded fish tanks – A sorting process whereby the fish are poured through a series of grates sorts them into size – often the fish are hurt by this process – knocking off their scales and making them more vulnerable to disease.
  • Like chicken farming, aqua farms and intensive, high-volume systems use food, light, and growth stimulators to enhance production. A cocktail of drugs and genetic engineering are employed to increase growth rates and manipulate the fishes reproductive cycles.
  • With many fish farms placing as many fish as possible in the tanks and damns the fish are often hurt – fish need space to navigate and to use their senses – in overcrowded dams this is impossible and they often bang into each other, and into the sides of the cages or tanks – hurting their fins and scales in the process.

So – are you ready for fish farming? Whether you get a government grant for fish farming or a tilapia fish farm – youare going to have to know how to farm fish – and it is not all roses – you have to be pretty hard hearted to do it the way everyone else does it – and there is growing outcry about fish farming methods – maybe you can come up with a way to grow fish in a kind and respectful manner – or maybe, like most farmers it is just the money that counts!

This entry was posted in Farming fish in South africa and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to TILAPIA fish farming South Africa

  1. Nathan says:

    Hi , I am just about ready to take the Plunge into sustainable fish farming . I am in Cape town South african and i have similar issues as above . Where will i be able to purchase breeding stock of Talapia , where and who supplies the food in my area and also is there anyone locally close to me that i can get in contact with to chat and see how to start off . Once again thanks for a great site and all the replies

  2. Gerhardus says:


    I am really interested in the fish project. If we look at the global situation, Fukushuma and the fish market , there are a gap in the market for producing fish in large quantities. Will you please forward information on fish farms, need to get a thorough knowledge on this before I can invest in such a project. I have emailed a friend in Europe who are in the Forex market and might be interested in investing.

    I need a full case study, cost analysis, sustainability on such a project.

    I want to see the possibility in Natal area.

    Please reply as soon as possible.


    Hardus Malan



  3. James Grant says:

    I’m almost ready to take the plunge into AP. I do however want to make the right decision as to the type of fish I want to use in my system. As I am from the southern part of South Africa where the water is generally colder than in the northern parts, I guess the best choice would be to go for either Trout or the Israeli Tilapia. I was however wondering if you as seasoned breeders might know if the Tilapia Lidole, commonly known as Chambo, from Lake Malawi, has ever been bred in tanks i.e. outside of their natural habitat? And if so by whom?

  4. sonika mc arthy says:

    Would it be possible to get a goverment grant on tilapia fish farming project

    thank you

  5. Haniff says:

    I have 7hectre farm with borehole water. I would like to know can I get a government grant to start up tilapia farming, and if so then how do I go about getting the grant.
    thank you.
    A Haniff

  6. Antonia says:

    I would like to start tilapia farming as soon as possible. I have made enquiries with various people who know about tilapia and have done a lot of reading on thesubject on the internet, as advised. I am about to submit a proposal for funding.
    My concern is that looking at the internet I have not yet identified a strong tilapia market in South Africa. The market is mostly outside the country. I would like to identify a South African or Southern African market if possible. Can you help me?


  7. Petrus says:

    Hi, i want to start a small fish farm in my comunity, and want to start with tilapia fish. this will not be a hatchry but a food saurce to the comunity. can you maby help me in the right direction how to start, and to get the right info? Thanx.

  8. Teresa says:

    please let me know where in South Africa, (gauteng) can I buy tilapia fish pellets.
    thanking you in advance. 0825187722

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>