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Tilapia: 5 Things You Didn't Know About This Fish

Updated on January 24, 2016
Blond Logic profile image

Mary is a tilapia farmer in Brazil. Through her articles, she shares insights and tips to make your farm more profitable.

Tilapia Fish
Tilapia Fish | Source

Tilapia Fish

If I ask you about tilapia you might say something like, “Oh tilapia, is one of my family's favorite fish to eat”. It is true that it has seen a surge in popularity for a few reasons.

Firstly is because of the cost, tilapia is a less expensive option compared with many other fish.

Secondly, it is popular with all family members because it doesn't taste too fishy. Some fish are quite strong and for some people too strong. This is not the case with tilapia, it has a less fishy taste so even the kids enjoy it.

But it may surprise you to know that there is more to tilapia than just a meal.

How do I know? We have a small tilapia farm here in Brazil. We farm it for the local community and also sell to larger buyers from the state's capital.

When the fish is collected by a our larger buyer it is taken to a factory where it is processed into fillets, packed and shipped out.

So what do they do with the excess fish waste?

Tilapia as a Bio Fuel

Normally bio-fuels are produced from maize, sugar cane or soybean crops which are grown on land that could be farmed for food crops for human consumption. When there are people who are going hungry, one has to question the morality of growing crops to power cars and other vehicles.

This is one of the reasons projects like this one in the Central America are encouraged by many environmentalist and charities.

The remains of the processed tilapia are pulverized and used to make bio-fuel. In the country of Honduras, a company called Aquafinca, which supplies 25 million kilograms of tilapia to the US, have built a special processing plant for the fish waste. They produce 15,000 liters a day of bio-diesel which they use for their company vehicles, and to produce electricity for their operations.

After the fish is crushed, methanol and caustic soda are added. This mixture is filtered and the glycerin which is removed is sold to soap and cosmetic manufactures. The bone meal is used in pet foods, and sold to garden centers.

There are similar plants, in other parts of the world which also use fish viscera as bio-fuels including Brazil and Vietnam.

Collagen From Tilapia

The injections of collagen many people have could have come from tilapia. It is fast becoming a popular choice as it readily available, and fish collagen is more easily absorbed than collagen from an animals such as cows. Alternatives were found after BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or mad cow disease as it is more commonly known was discovered.

The collagen is not only in the form of injections but also as a supplement and in moisturizers and facial creams.

Orange Juice with Fish Oil
Orange Juice with Fish Oil | Source

Orange Juice Containing Tilapia.

Yes you did read the title correctly. In some countries, fish oils, including those from tilapia are being added to orange juice to increase the levels of Omega 3 in the diet. Tilapia is a rich souce of Omega 3 and along with other fish such as sardines, and anchovy are now added to popular juices. One such brand is the popular Tropicana Orange Juice.

Tilapia Leather

As someone who has scaled many tilapia in her life, I can tell you that the skin of this fish is not only robust but quite beautiful. This and the ample supply are just two of the reasons, it is being used as a material for everything from jackets to jewelry. Do you fancy wearing a tilapia bikini?

This is a popular emerging market as a by product of this commercially produced fish.

Tilapia Skin Bikini

Algae and Tilapia

Tilapia are marvelous for clearing algae in lakes and ditches, and in some parts of the United States they are released to do just that. However it is worth noting that left to their own devices, tilapia can begin breeding at 4 months and they are prolific breeders. What can occur is an over population of fish in a short amount of time. You will then end up with stunted fish and a body of water which can become full of algae due to the fish excrement.

The way to combat this is to allow fishing. If a lake is full of tilapia and dragged with a net, it is unlikely you will be able to clear it. These fish are resistant and can live in temperatures up to 40°C (104°F). They also can survive in very little water and one of their favorite tricks is to hide in the mud to avoid capture. Only through draining a lake or allowing a ditch to dry out can you be assured of removing all the tilapia.

Natural predators such as birds which eat fish will remove many as well.

Heron with a Tilapia
Heron with a Tilapia | Source


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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 years ago from Brazil

      Hello nettraveller,

      You are very welcome, glad you enjoyed it.

    • nettraveller profile image

      nettraveller 2 years ago from USA

      I'm going to be looking out for one of those wallets, or maybe the shoes. Thank you for some new perspectives in an interesting read!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hello Grand Old Lady,

      It is interesting that you mention St. Peter's Day as this weekend we will be going to the beach to see of procession of traditional Brazilian fishing boats called jangadas. They take a statue of St. Peter from one church to the other.

      Thank you for your visit and I am pleased you enjoyed it.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      This is very interesting. It must be wonderful to own tilapia farm. I can just imagine you scaling its skin. How wonderful that nothing goes to waste in this industry. I had expected you to mention that tilapia is also called St. Peter's fish, but you took the industrial point of view which is so much more enthralling.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you.

      It is an enviable lifestyle if you like working outdoors. We are hands on and do most of the work ourselves.

      Like, Brazil, Mexico has large and small farms rearing tilapia. If you are going to have a small farm, it is best to sell locally. Good luck to you, I hope you make it to Mexico.

    • profile image

      Jason 3 years ago

      You do an excellent job. I have read several of your articles on here about Tilapia. I am interested in following your footsteps in Mexico someday. Thank you, Jason F.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Faith Reaper,

      We enjoy it here in Brazil. Glad you liked this piece, thanks for the vote, the pin and the tweet.

      Have a great week.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, learned a lot here. We eat tilapia, but I never knew of its many other unusual uses ... fascinating stuff here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Your farm sounds amazing and you have much experience to share no doubt.

      Up and more, pinning and tweeting

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Robert,

      Glad you found it interesting, and thank you for the compliment.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Another interesting look at tilapia from our HP expert on the topic!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Nell,

      When I lived in the UK I had never heard of a tilapia but it is very popular in other parts of the world.

      It is indeed a very useful fish.

      Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your weekend as well.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi, Well I never knew that! To be honest I had never heard of it before! but all those uses, from skin care to bio fuel! well I learn something new everyday! lol! amazing that you have a tilapia farm, how interesting, I would love to see that! have a wonderful weekend, nell

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Word 55,

      You are right Omega 3 is important. Tilapia also has Omega 6 but not in an abundant quantity as other fish. It is great to know that it is being used as much as possible.

      Thanks for reading and I am pleased you enjoyed it.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hello The Examiner 1

      Yes I believe the Tropicana in the US has tilapia. Look for the one with added omega 3, and read the label. I saw it on their website where it lists the ingredients. I like tilapia and orange juice but not together.

      Thanks for the vote and the pin.

      Now go out and get yourself some tilapia, you don't know what you are missing.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi M Jennifer,

      I think the tilapia farms and processing plants are only just scratching the surface with their ideas. I know in places like Vietnam, they will put small tilapia in the flooded rice fields and when the rice is ready, so are the fish.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Ryem profile image

      Ryem 3 years ago from Maryland

      This is a very interesting hub. I've only known of tilapia from eating, but I learned a lot from you. : )

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hello Jupiter90,

      As you can imagine we eat a fair bit of it, fried mostly. However locally they tend to split it open flat, leaving the scales on sprinkle it with rock salt and olive oil and barbecue it. This is then served on a banana leaf and eaten with the fingers.

      Great to hear from you.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Janis,

      Glad you enjoyed reading about it. It is good to know that all parts are being used. Thanks for the votes and sharing this post.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Humm, you learn something everyday. This was a very informative article. It good to know how useful tilapia fish is. I no the omega 3 aspect is of supreme use. Thanks for presenting this info Blond Logic and Jan for sharing it1

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I have never eaten tilapia fish - unless the US is one of the countries with fish oil in Tropicana! This was very intriguing I have learned quite a bit about this fish. I voted up and pinned it.


    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 3 years ago from Arizona

      Very interesting! It is terrific that the fish by-products are used so extensively. What a versatile and economically important fish.

      Best -- Mj

    • jupiter90 profile image

      jupiter90 3 years ago

      Thanks for the hub. My favorite tilapia dish is fried tilapia with baked french fries. Sometimes I will cook the tilapia in soup. As you said, tilapia doesn't have that fishy taste. To me, tilapia actually tastes like moist chicken breasts.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Oh my, what an informative hub about tilapia, Blond Logic! I had no idea of its many uses. I love cooking and eating tilapia for its taste and affordability. I'm glad I stopped by, appreciate the expanded knowledge about this great fish. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      Yes I believe they are caught and eaten. This has so many advantages, not only are they feeding people, they are keeping the mosquito population in check, and the algae down. This is a much better method than spraying insecticides and herbicides, which can be harmful to humans and aquatic life.

      Pleased you found it interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      What a revelation! You shared some amazing facts here about the tilapia. What about those which are used for "clearing algae in lakes and ditches?" I wonder if they are also caught for food. Great article and voted up!