Origin – China
- Presentation – Whole, Fillets
Tilapia is the third most important fish in acquaculture after carps and Salmonids, with production reaching 1,505,804 metric tons in 2002 . Because of their large size, rapid growth and palatability, tilaiine cichhlids are the focus of major acquaculture efforts, specifically various species of Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and Tilapia, collectively known colloquially as tilapias. Like other large fish, they are a good source of protein and a popular target for artisnal and commercial fisheries. Originally, the majority of such fisheries were in Africa, but outdoor aquaculture projects in tropical countries such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia are underway in freshwater lakes. Intemperate zone localities, tilapiine farming operations require energy to warm the water to tropical temperatures. One method uses waste heat from factories and power stations.
Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Cultivators use large doses of hormones such as testosterone to reverse the sex of newly spawned females. Because tilapia are prolific breeders, the presence of female tilapia results in rapidly increasing populations of small fish, rather than a stable population of harvest-size animals. Cultivators also use growth hormones to accelerate growth.
Whole Tilapia fish can be processed into skinless, boneless (PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30 percent to 37 percent, depending on fillet size and final trim. The use of tilapia in the commercial food industry has led to the virtual extinction of genetically pure bloodlines. Most wild tilapia today are hybrids of several species.
Use as food
Tilapia have very low levels of mercury as they are a fast-growing and short-lived fish that mostly eats a vegetarian diet and therefore do not accumulate mercury found in prey.
There is research suggesting that farm-raised tilapia contains an 11:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids whereas other fish, such as salmon, contain closer to a 1:1 ratio.