Mozambique Tilapia Mozambique tilapia a cichlid fish native to southern Africa is popular for aquaculture, due to its excellent eating qualities and handling ease. Primarily due to illegal releases and escapements it is found the tropical and subtropical habitats in the southern states where it is for the most part is viewed as an invasive species.
Mozambique tilapia is commonly found in warm weedy ponds, canals, and river backwaters. A somewhat unique population is found in the Salton Sea, California, where it inhabits shoreline zones of the estuaries. Winter water temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit are generally fatal, with it ideal temperatures range in the seventies and eighties. Mozambique is highly tolerant of brackish waters.
Tilapia are deep bodied, laterally compress fish, shaped similarly to sunfish. They have long dorsal fins, the front section being spiny rayed. Coloration is a pale gray along the back turning yellowish sides, and there may be three or four spots on the side.
Mozambique tilapia matures within the first year and can breed continuously in waters over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Males construct nests in soft bottomed areas. He then lures a female to the nest, where after a swimming courtship the female lays a hundred or more eggs. The eggs are taken into the female’s mouth along with milt from the male. The male chases the female away and looks for another female, while the female incubates the eggs and protects the fry by taking them back into her mouth in the presence of predators. The period of incubation and care will run upwards of three weeks.
While Mozambique tilapia are used occasionally for weed control, being omnivores, their usefulness in this regard is somewhat limited compared other tilapia species. Their diet includes plankton, some aquatic insects, larval fish, detritus, and organic matter.