Tilapia Tilapia is a genus of fish in the cichlid (pronounced ‘sishlid’) family. These freshwater fish are native to Africa but have been widely introduced to warm waters in many countries. Their natural habitat is lakes but they are now extensively bred and reared in fish farms. The cichlids are mostly carnivorous, hunting about for food on the bottom or snapping up organisms floating in the water. Most species of Tilapia, however, feed on algae in plankton, though Tilapia zillii eats the stems and leaves of water plants. When swimming in ‘schools’, the fish usually move almost simultaneously and this tends to keep the school together. In their breeding behaviour, the cichlids may be divided into two groups, the substrate spawners and the mouth brooders . The former lay eggs in a pit dug in the bottom of the lake or pond. The eggs are aerated and guarded by the parents. The mouth brooders, on the other hand, though they may lay their eggs in pits, then take them into the mouth and keep them there till the young hatch. The male guards the territory round the pit, driving off intruders by nipping or pushing them
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