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Updated on November 15, 2014

Tilapia - Sustainable, Healthy and Delicious

This page is about tilapia, a fast growing sustainable fish. Farm raised tilapia are easy to grow and process, making them ideal for aquaculture.

Consumers like its firm flesh, mild flavor and low cost, making tilapia one of the top ranked farm raised fish of the USA.

In 2010, Americans consumed about 1.4 pounds of tilapia per capita, placing tilapia among the 10 most popular types of seafood.


Tilapia have gone from being an obscure fish to one of the most popular fish in many cultures. Tilapia are easily grown and consumers like tilapia's firm flesh and mild flavor. Markets have expanded rapidly in the U.S. during the last 10 years, mostly based on foreign imports.

Tilapia sales have surpassed rainbow trout sales in the U.S. and Tilapia is now the fifth most popular seafood consumed in the United States.

Tilapia are a good source of protein, vitamins and contain omega 3 fatty acids and omega-6 compounds.

Tilapia is often broiled and served with tartar sauce and is quite delicious. Other preparations include grilling, baking, blackening and others.

The correct spelling for the name of the fish is tilapia. The name is often misspelled as "talapia", "tipilia", tipillia or tipalia.

baked tilapia picture
baked tilapia picture

Tilapia Recipes

Tilapia Quesadillas


4 flour tortillas

8 oz. tilapia fillets

6 oz. cheese (Mexican melting cheese, Monterey jack, cheddar or American)

olive oil

1 tomato

1 avocado

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

salt and pepper to taste


1. Chop and mix tomato, avocado, onion; sprinkle with lime juice and a little sea salt. Chill while quesadillas are cooking.

2. Cook tilapia on a grill or sear in a cast iron skillet coated with olive oil. Separate fish into flakes. Slice cheese into thin pieces.

3. Heat a skillet, adding just enough butter or olive oil to prevent tortillas from sticking.

4. In the heated skillet, add 1 tortilla, then position fish, cheese and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper. Cover with second tortilla.

5. Cook until bottom tortilla is golden brown. Carefully flip and brown remaining side.

6. Remove from pan and cut into 4 sections. Serve immediately with salsa.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan


2 pounds tilapia fillets

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

3 green onions, chopped

thinly sliced lemon and parsley for garnish, optional


1. Place fillets in a single layer on a greased baking dish or broiler

pan; brush with lemon juice.

2. Combine Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, butter, and green onions in

a small bowl; set aside.

3. Broil flounder fillets 4 to 6 minutes, or until fish flakes easily

with a fork. Remove from oven; spread with cheese


4. Broil about 30 seconds longer, or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

5. Garnish with sliced lemon and parsley if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

Baked Tilapia with Fresh Herbs

This is a simple and delicious baked tilapia recipe.


1 lb tilapia fillets

1 cup grated bread crumbs

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano

1/2 cup melted butter


1. Rinse fillets and allow to drain in a colander. If necessary, blot away excess water with a paper towel.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Dredge fillets in butter and roll in dry season mixture. Place fillets on a greased cookie sheet.

4. Bake at 375-degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes. The fish is cooked when it is white and flakes easily.

An Overview of Tilapia Aquaculture

Tilapia are the second most important group of farm raised fish in the world. The species has been introduced in over 100 countries. Tilapia farming and consumption is rapidly increasing in the U.S. Worldwide harvests of farmed tilapia surpasses 800,000 metric tons and tilapia are second only to carp as the most widely farmed freshwater fish in the world.

Raising tilapia is easy and inexpensive. They are easily spawned, tolerate poor water quality, and grow rapidly at warm temperatures. The fish adapt well to fresh or salt water and fatten fast. Unlike many farm raised fish tilapia do not require fishmeal and fish oil as an essential part of their diet. This enables tilapia to be grown on a grain based diet. These attributes, along with relatively low input costs, have made tilapia the most widely cultured freshwater fish in tropical and subtropical countries.

In the United States, the geographic range for tilapia culture is limited by the temperature-sensitivity of tilapia. For optimal growth the ideal water temperature range is 82-86 °F, and growth is reduced greatly below 68 °F. Death occurs below 50 °F. Therefore, only the southernmost states are suitable for tilapia production.

Tilapia Aquaculture Certification

Best Aquaculture Practices certification is coming for Tilapia Production.

As with other BAP standards for fish, those proposed for tilapia facilities include a set of base-level "global" standards that specify the sustainable use of land, water, nutrients, and other resources, and strive to prevent culture methods from causing environmental damage.

BAP certification for tilapia farms will help insure that fish do not contain residues of antibiotics and other chemicals, and that they are free of microbial contamination.

BAP certification for tilapia farms will address tilapia that are grown in controlled ponds, cages in lakes and reservoirs and other methods.

Certified farms must provide adequate living conditions for fish that limit stress, potential injury, and exposure to disease. Suitable stocking densities and feeding procedures that reduce the use of marine-based feed ingredients must be employed. Proper procedures must be used during harvest and transport.

The American Coalition for Tilapia (ACT)

A new coalition representing virtually all the fresh tilapia producers and distributors has been formed. The companies involved are Aquamericas (or Mountain Stream, ENACA), Golden Lake Tilapia (or Nicanor), Marine Harvest, Rain Forest Aquaculture, Regal Springs Tilapia, Shell and Fish (or Empagram) and Tropical Aquaculture (or Aquamar, Santa Prascila). Their goal is to make sure consumers understand the benefits of fresh tilapia, and to fight low cost products that are refreshed and may have been treated with Carbon monoxide.

Where Do Tilapia Come From?

Tilapia History

Tilapia, also known as St. Peter's fish is a spiny-finned freshwater fish of the family Cichlidae. Found mainly in the waters of Africa and the Middle East, non-native populations are established in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, USA and Queensland and Victoria, Australia.

Tipilia are an important source of food both in their native lands as well as places such as North America where they are grown as food fish. Economically they are beneficial as the fish are fast growing, easy to raise and resistant to diseases.

The Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) may have been farmed in ancient Egypt. It is a commercially important tilapia of aquaculture. A number of other species and hybrids are used for tilapia aquaculture.

Avoid Releasing Tilapia

Tilapia can be an invasive species when released.

Tilapia should not be released into the wild. Since tilapias are fast growing and eat up the surrounding zooplankton they can potentially be an invasive species when introduced into non-native environments. Negative results of releasing tilapia can affect a wide array of environmental attributes that are important to support recreation, water quality, plant and animal diversity, and species abundance.

Tilapia Feedback

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    • jder profile image


      7 years ago

      Just to let you know, it turned out very well! Thanks again!

    • jder profile image


      7 years ago

      The tilapia with herbs is about to go in the oven, thanks for the recipe!

    • Cal-gal profile image

      Meredith Davies 

      7 years ago

      We have just started raising tilapia here in Northern Brazil. We plan to harvest 4,500 between June and July at which point I will be trying some of your recipes.

      You have a lot of good information here and it is well presented.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love of the family thinks it doesn't have a lot of flavor, but I add a lot too it. The fish I use are farmed. Thanks for adding my Natural Disaster lens to yours on the oil spill, I appreciate it. ~claudia

    • Demaw profile image


      8 years ago

      I didn't know tilapia could be an invasive species. The only ones I have so far seen in stores were farm raised over seas. Good information.


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