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Tilapia - Fish Farming in the Philippines

Updated on November 18, 2014

Heh, an Aquatic Version of "Chicken" ... (But not "Chicken of the Sea")

Tilapia are some of the most farmed ("cultured") fish in the world--right up there with carp, catfish, trout, and salmon--and are considered the fifth most popular seafood eaten in the U.S.

During a trip to the Philippines a few years ago, I saw various methods of fish-farming--in particular, the methods used for raising and harvesting (and cooking!) these interesting fish. The up-close photos of these critters and their ponds here were taken during that trip at my wife's cousin's farm in Pampanga Province on Luzon Island.

Aquaculture is important in many countries, particularly in Asian countries such as the Philippines--the protein provides a needed addition to otherwise protein-limited meals.

This website provides some information and additional resources for those interested in aquaculture and tilapia in particular.

Get the Treatises on Fish Farming Technology So You Can Harvest Your Own Tasty Meals!

Fish Farming Technology
Fish Farming Technology

This excellent reference on Fish Farming Technology covers much of what you need to start and operate your own fish farm -- and tilapia being one of the fish that can be raised with the methods described in this book.

The book's 81 papers and abstracts from a fish farming technology conference cover the planning, set-up, and building of holding tanks and large ponds, the filtration systems, powered aeration systems, feeding systems, and harvesting techniques. Discussions of the needs of various fish types are also included.


Want to See These Fish Moving (and How They Are Farmed)? Check Out These Vids!

Read Up on Tilapia (and other) Aquaculture and Farming!

There are lots of references out there to help you build your own aquaculture or mariculture enterprise. I've compiled some of those I believe are useful in that endeavor. After working at a university marine laboratory and helping them to build some large-scale aquaculture/mariculture tanks and ponds, I've seen the capability of these structures.

But they are delicate in other ways. If you don't have the water filtered just right, or if you don't have the right food or feeding routine, the fish won't thrive. Also, you may find yourself with algae problems or predator problems. But the references provided here will steer you away from making mistakes if you study them and follow their advice!

Tilapia Farm Pond in Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines

Tilapia Farm Pond in Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines
Tilapia Farm Pond in Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines

"Aquatic Chicken"?

Tilapia fish jumping in pond at feeding time - Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Luzon Island, Philippines
Tilapia fish jumping in pond at feeding time - Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Luzon Island, Philippines

There's good reason to want to raise or farm tilapia--they have a fine-tasting, flakey meat; they are relatively easy to raise or farm; they are more robust and prolific than other species; and, they've been farmed and harvested for nearly 2,500 years (lots of experience out there raising these fish!).

I've worked as a research aide at a university marine laboratory where we tested various methods of aquaculture and mariculture.

As you can see from the photos here, the tilapia ponds shown are natural-looking (sort of dug out of rice paddies that may have been there before the ponds were lined and filled with water). Also, the tilapia farms shown in the lake of the Taal Volcano are enclosed in underwater cages to keep the fish contained.

When I worked at the marine lab, we built holding tanks that were perhaps 6 cinder-blocks wide by about 30 cinder-blocks long and 5 cinder-blocks high. These "tanks" were then painted on the inside with a quick-setting resin to make them more water-proof. Then, a recirculating, water-filtration system consisting of three plexiglas 40-gallon aquariums filled with gravel and carbon chunks was mounted on one end of each tank. Water was directed from a main source into the filtration systems before being allowed into the tanks. When the tanks finally filled within about a foot of the top -- where the recycle outlet for the water going back into the filtration system was -- the "fry" (juvenile fish) were added to the tank.

We would feed the fish some commercially-available pellets about once or twice a week, and over a period of a few months, we watched as the fish grew to their adult size. Of course, along the way, we'd sample some of the fish to measure them and check for their health to adjust their feedings and water quality.

For a small setup... for instance, in coordination with a hydroponics garden or similar venture, you could probably use tanks originally intended as a horse or cattle trough or as a water-storage tank.

With a little research through the resources provided here, you might have a fine way to grow some protein -- that doesn't make noise like chickens or cows, but is similarly tasty.

Another View of a Tilapia Farm Pond, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines

Another View of a Tilapia Farm Pond, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines
Another View of a Tilapia Farm Pond, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines

Checking the Fish Size by Harvesting with a Net

Checking the Fish Size by Harvesting with a Net
Checking the Fish Size by Harvesting with a Net

Ready for Market - Caught in Net at Fish Farm Pond, Pampanga, Philippines

Ready for Market - Caught in Net at Fish Farm Pond, Pampanga, Philippines
Ready for Market - Caught in Net at Fish Farm Pond, Pampanga, Philippines

Yum! Grilled. With a Bit of Sauce and Garnish!

Yum! Grilled. With a Bit of Sauce and Garnish!
Yum! Grilled. With a Bit of Sauce and Garnish!

Want to See Tilapia Being Cooked? Check Out These Vids!

Another method for aquaculture -- fish pens in Lake Taal, as seen from Tagaytay City, Cavite Province, Philippines

Another method for aquaculture -- fish pens in Lake Taal, as seen from Tagaytay City, Cavite Province, Philippines
Another method for aquaculture -- fish pens in Lake Taal, as seen from Tagaytay City, Cavite Province, Philippines

Taal tilapia, packed in ice at a Seafood City supermarket, Tukwilla, Washington

Taal tilapia, packed in ice at a Seafood City supermarket, Tukwilla, Washington
Taal tilapia, packed in ice at a Seafood City supermarket, Tukwilla, Washington

So, How Do You Like YOURS Cooked?

Tilapia can't get much fresher than this--these two just came out of the water!
Tilapia can't get much fresher than this--these two just came out of the water!

How Do You Like Your Tilapia For Your Meal?

See results

Copyright and Attribution Notice

NOTE: All photographic images in this website, with exception of those obviously in the Amazon, eBay, YouTube, and similar sections, were shot on my own camera by me and are thus mine. Likewise, the narrative is original and based on my experiences. Your mileage may vary.

© 2008 David Gardner

Drop a Note and Say "Hi"

Submit a Comment
  • kehsiberry profile image


    6 years ago

    Hi! i love tilapia! great lens

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Er it is the Traditional fishing method, we can directly saw what we caught, I just want to try :)

  • Pat Goltz profile image

    Pat Goltz 

    6 years ago

    Thank you for this very informative lens. The pictures told me more that make me inclined to eat tilapia. It looks like they give the fish enough room to grow right.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    As someone who keeps and breeds tropical fish I have come across several of the various (about 100) species of Tilapia but I have never eaten one!

  • Mr Criminology profile image


    6 years ago from Philippines

    tilapia, grilled, wow super delicious.

  • Cynthia Haltom profile image

    Cynthia Haltom 

    6 years ago from Diamondhead

    Tilapia is not my favorite, I prefer fish that is wild and not farm raised.

  • gottaloveit2 profile image


    6 years ago

    Tilapia is one of my favorite fish - I love it broiled on low with lemon and butter. Had no idea how the little suckers were caught!

  • BusyQueen profile image


    6 years ago

    I love Tilapia fish, great info about this fish!

  • SciTechEditorDave profile imageAUTHOR

    David Gardner 

    6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

    @Zienna1: Yes. My wife is from Mabalacat. Mayup a bengi po! Tilapia manyaman! (Masarap!) And those pictures of the fish were taken at her cousins' fish farm. (Ya can't get 'em any fresher than that! [the fish, that is!]). Thanks for dropping by my lens!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Great lens! So do you have any relations in the Philippines? Just asking cause I know there's a lot of filipinos in Guam. My great grand parents are from Mabalacat,Pampanga, that's as far as I know. Thanks for sharing this lens. Now, I'm really missing home.

  • GardenerDon profile image

    Gardener Don 

    6 years ago

    Really enjoyed your lens - found it with a Squidoo search for "fishing".

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Great lens.

  • malenk lm profile image

    malenk lm 

    7 years ago

    Today is Friday ( no meat for us) so I grilled tilapia for dinner, yum....

  • Fox Music profile image

    Fox Music 

    7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this lens "Tilapia - Fish Farming in the Philippines"

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    great post! i eat talapia at least 3 times a week! good to know where my talapia comes from!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    I enjoyed your cooking video here and maybe I will try to follow the instruction. it's awesome.

  • attraction 42 profile image

    attraction 42 

    7 years ago

    Hi! nice lens. :)

  • norma-holt profile image


    7 years ago

    Nice story and great pics. Blessed.

  • SpenceG profile image


    7 years ago

    Tilapias are tasty. I like mine grilled as you have on one of the pictures.

  • xXOUTDOORSXx profile image


    7 years ago

    I love the way tilapia tastes

  • ikehook lm profile image

    ikehook lm 

    7 years ago

    nice lens, it made me hungry

  • biminibahamas profile image


    7 years ago

    I am interested in aquaponics so reading about the tilapia was just what I was looking for. Raising the fish that fertilize the plants. A great concept!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    i love Tilapia, and now i know many thing about Tilapia, thanks

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Hi, jut dropped by to take a read, I did enjoy this lens. Thanks for sharing.

  • DaniAteraba profile image


    8 years ago

    Terrific lens about my favorite fish Tilapia! My daughters love this local fish every time I cooked a dish for them. Congrats on your purple star! :)

  • Ben Reed profile image

    Ben Reed 

    8 years ago from Redcar

    Thoroughly enjoyed this lense. Learned so much about Tilapia

  • LornsA178 profile image


    8 years ago from USA

    Great lens! Thanks for featuring the Philippines again.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Nice lens about Tilapia, it's my favourite fish ever!

  • bead at home mom profile image

    Teri Hansen 

    8 years ago

    Great page on tilapia, we support 'Food For The Poor' and creating tilapia farms is one of the many ways FFTP helps the destitute in the Caribbean to thrive and grow more self sufficient. Thanks for sharing.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Tilapia is one of my favorite fishes, especially fried Tilapia. This lens is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Two thumbs up!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Hey, I am building an orphan's home in Tarlac! Great lens.

  • LaraineRoses profile image

    Laraine Sims 

    8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

    Hi. Congratulations on your very well deserved purple star. I'll be back to read more of your lenses.

  • goo2eyes lm profile image

    goo2eyes lm 

    8 years ago

    hello dave, sorry for late reply. thanks for visiting my lenses. how did you learn tagalog? have u been to the philippines or are there plenty of filipinos in guam?

  • Diana Wenzel profile image

    Renaissance Woman 

    8 years ago from Colorado

    Very interesting to see how tilapia are farmed. This is one of my favorite fish (to eat). I love them pan fried with sauteed almonds or baked in a thai seasoning. Delicious!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    In addition to being a very tasty dinner, tilapia are common in aquariums. They are extremely interesting in that they are mouthbrooders, the parents take the babies into their mouths when danger threatens.

  • TolovajWordsmith profile image

    Tolovaj Publishing House 

    8 years ago from Ljubljana

    Looks tempting, have to try it one day... thanks for this lens!

  • marckq profile image


    8 years ago

    Hi po, congratulations on your purple star.

  • AnongLans LM profile image

    AnongLans LM 

    8 years ago

    I love tilapia. It can be cooked in many different ways.

  • GlassesGirl profile image


    8 years ago

    I had no idea there was so much work involved in tilapia farming. It's a new favorite fish of mine!

  • sukkran trichy profile image

    sukkran trichy 

    8 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

    interesting read. your photos and vids are very informative. thanks for sharing.

  • madoc profile image


    9 years ago

    Great lens. I lensrolled it to, and added a link from my lens on Philippines agricultural reform, - you are now my authoritative source on "fish farming"!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    interesting! Once i visited salmon farm on shetland islands, great experience

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    We used to joke about the fish jumping into our boat when we caught a stringer of walleye. Looks like Tilapia could do that. Fish farming has created quite an industry. I've never had Tilapia but I haven't met a fish I didn't like. Congratulations on your purple star!

  • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

    Nathalie Roy 

    9 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

    I ate Tilapia a couple of time, it is pretty tasteless unless you dress it up. I think it is a good fish for those who don't like fish

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Tilapia offers one of the best source of food.

    I for one plan to try an aquaponics system with this fish.

    Self-sufficiency will become more important

    and Tilapia will play an even bigger role.

  • WhitU4ever profile image


    9 years ago

    Tilapia is one of my favorite kinds of fish, as well as Salmon, Trout, and Yellow Striped Bass. Add it to one of Rachel Ray's recipes, and it becomes a meal fit for a King!

  • Diana888 profile image

    Diana J. Limjoco 

    9 years ago from Puerto Princesa, Palawan

    Cool fact I want to have a little tilapia pond on our farm just for our own use! Great info here thanks!

  • alesxandrea profile image


    9 years ago

    In a place located in the southern Philippines, fresh tilapia which are grown in lakes are cooked in different ways like adobo, fried, grilled, and pinaputukan.They even make a chicharong tilapia. This fish is one of my all-time favorite. Thanks for presenting this very informative lens.

  • The-Bard profile image


    9 years ago

    Super lens about a great fish. I eat Tilapia daily when I'm in the Philippines - fresh from the lake just down the road. Grilled simply on a BBQ using charcoaled coconut shell, served up with calamansi (small limes) straight off the tree, and sometimes I press a tiny chili into soy sauce which is great for dipping the meat in. Gives an extra bite! I can easily live on this stuff. I even had filleted tilapia for my lunch today - I get it fresh-frozen from a fishmonger here in London. I grill it with olive oil and milk which makes an excellent fish sauce to pour over a side dish of asparagus. If I'm not eating Tilapia in the Phil I will be eating my all time favourite fish - boneless Bangus. I've been known to travel hours to get the best supply from Aliminos, Hundred Islands. 5*s well deserved.

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 

    9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I miss that tilapia grill. Wish I am eating it now. Very well presented lens.

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    Great lens!

  • poptastic profile image

    Cynthia Arre 

    10 years ago from Quezon City

    Very well presented lens. I'm Filipino but I know nothing about tilapia farming. I do know a lot about tilapia-eating (; I learned a lot on here, thanks for sharing! *blessed by an angel*

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    gusto ko sana malaman kung pano ang paraan sa pagpapalaki ng tilapia! may binubuwisan kasi kme.. tnx..

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    In Malaysia, we prefer Red Tilapia. We are farming it in our grandmother's fish pond. You can even swim with them but be careful not to touch their fin. You'll get stung but its not so painful.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Right after Basa, we will eat Tilapia -- That is an amazing picture of "Tilapia Ready for Market - Caught in Net at Fish Farm Pond, Pampanga, Philippines" -- quite a few fish in that net. We've fished in a fish farm in the Carolinas, but brought the fish in one at a time. Have you tried Basa yet? I'd be curious to hear your opinion.

  • NAIZA LM profile image


    11 years ago

    What a great catch! The Grilled Tilapia photos is deliciously tempting.. Great job as always. You have an eye for all things and amazing how you turn it into a fantastic Squidoo lens. Definitely, a fab five! I lensrolled you my other related lens.


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