Tilapia has become the third most important fish in aquaculture after carp and salmon; worldwide production exceeded 1,500,000 metric tons in 2002 and increases annually. Because of their high protein content, large size, rapid growth (6 to 7 months to grow to harvest size), and palatability, a number of tilapiine cichlids—specifically, various species of Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia—are the focus of major aquaculture efforts.
Tilapia fisheries originated in Africa. The accidental and deliberate introductions of tilapia into Asian freshwater lakes have inspired outdoor aquaculture projects in various countries with tropical climates, most notably Honduras, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia. Tilapia farm projects in these countries have the highest potential to be "green" or environmentally friendly. In temperate zone localities, tilapia farmers typically need a costly energy source to maintain a tropical temperature range in their tanks. One relatively sustainable solution involves warming the tank water using waste heat from factories and power stations.
Tilapiines are among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm 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 raised in rice fields at planting time and grow to edible size (12–15 cm, 5–6 inches) when the rice is ready for harvest. Unlike salmon, which rely on high-protein feeds based on fish or meat, commercially important tilapiine 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 is contained and not spread to the wild. However, tilapiines have acquired notoriety as being among the most serious invasive species in many subtropical and tropical parts of the world. For example Oreochromis aureus, O. mossambicus, Sarotherodon melanotheron melanotheron, Tilapia mariae, and T. zilli have all become established in the southern United States, particularly in Florida and Texas.
Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Being prolific breeders, female tilapia in the ponds or tanks will result in large populations of small fish. Whole tilapia can be processed into skinless, boneless (PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30% to 37%, depending on fillet size and final trim
The FAO has not recorded any production of farmed tilapia by India. Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA), the R&D arm of Marine Products Export Development Authority, has established a facility in Vijayawada to produce mono-sex tilapia in two strains. This project involves the establishment of a satellite nucleus for the GIFT strain of tilapia in India, the design and conduct of a genetic improvement program for this strain, the development of dissemination strategies, and the enhancement of local capacity in the areas of selective breeding and genetics. The development and dissemination of a high yielding tilapia strain possessing desirable production characteristics is expected to bring about notable economic benefits for the country.Farming of Tilapia is not permitted in the country on commercial basis. The Rajiv Gandhi Center for Aquaculture (RGCA) has expressed interest in obtaining the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT strain) for aquaculture development in the country. The GIFT tilapia strain, selectively bred in Malaysia and the Philippines, has achieved an improvement of more than 10 per cent per generation in growth rate and has been widely distributed to several Asian countries and to Latin America (Brazil). However, rather than passively importing the improved genetic stock, the Center is interested in running a formal breeding program (fully pedigreed population) similar to the one that has been carried out for the GIFT strain in Malaysia.
The aim is to produce fast-growing high yielding tilapia strains adapted to a wide range of local farming environments that can be grown at as low a cost as possible.
The project involves several steps. The first is the establishment of a new nucleus of the GIFT strain at the RGCA and the design of a formal breeding program to further improve its genetic performance within the local environment. This will involve enhancing the capacity of local personnel in selective breeding, genetic improvement, statistical analysis and hatchery management through specialized training courses.
More info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaculture_of_tilapia
Juan Gonzalo Angel