A Look at Some Facts About the Tilapia and How It Is Impacting Our Environment


What is Tilapia?

Well, the term "Tilapia" is used to refer many different kinds of fish in the Cichlidae family. It is a term used for three species of fish actually Sarotherodon, Oreochromis, and Tilapia fish. One of their common characteristics is that they are mouthbreeders. This means that, while caring for their offspring, they usually carry and hide their hatched babies in their mouth, especially when they perceive danger while traveling from one area to another.

Habitat and Growth Stats

These species of fish usually dwells in shallow, fresh water bodies such as streams, lakes, and ponds. They eat mostly insects, algae and aquatic plants. They are hardy and prolific fast-growing fish that can live up to 10 years and can reach a weight of more than 10 pounds, but depending on the condition of the environment some species of tilapia can reach maturity at less than a quarter of a pound . Tilapia have become relatively important in the field of aquaculture due to their specific appetites. Whether deliberately or accidently introduced into a new aquatic environment, they usually create imbalance in the ecosystem.

Tilapia Benefits

Although Tilapia are considered as invasive, they are very useful in controlling diseases. In fact, they were introduced to the waters of Kenya in order to control the spread of malaria – a disease caused by adult female mosquitoes. The fish, simply by eating the mosquito larva, reduces the number of mosquitoes, and therefore, the spread of malaria. Moreover, tilapia are also an effective natural control for aquatic plant problems. The fish eats most "undesirable" underwater plants, most floating aquatic plants, such as duckweed water meal, and most kinds of algae. In the US and countries such as the Philippines and Thailand, tilapia are typically the preferred method to control plants, eliminating or reducing the use of poisonous chemicals and heavy metal-based algaecides.

Tilapia are Delicious and Versatile

Tilapia can be fried, baked, and even added to stews in order to make dishes. You can also process the whole tilapia fish into skinless, boneless fillets: the yield is from 30% to 37%, depending on the size of the fillet as well as the final trim. Tilapia are low in saturated fat, sodium and carbohydrates, and are good source of protein. They also contain the micronutrients potassium, vitamin B12, selenium, niacin and phosphorus. Neverheless, a study conducted at Wake Forest University revealed that farm-raised tilapia might contain low amount of omega 3 fatty acids, and high amount of omega 6 fatty acids. That combination is unhealthy to people who already have heart disease, asthma or are genetically speaking to heart problems.

Tilapia Availability

Most grocery stores sell tilapia nowdays. If a local market does not carry it fresh, you may purchase the fish in a flash-frozen form that usually does well to capture the delicious flavor of the fish. Tilapia are typically produced in the US in outdoor ponds and indoor systems for sale as live food fish to the supermarket trade and restaurant. The production of tilapia in outside facilities is strictly controlled to prevent environmental damage to native fresh-water systems, especially to sport-fishing resources.

Tilapia Farming

Tilapia is second most important kind of farm fish after carp. It is farmed in more than 85 countries, with most imports coming from Latin America (Costa Rica, Ecuador and Honduras), and Asia (Indonesia and China). In the US, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) reported that tilapia now ranks fourth on its "top ten" list of the most consumed seafood and fish of Americans. The increasing demand of tilapia in the commercial food industry has replied to the virtual extinction of genetically pure bloodlines. Majority of wild tilapia today are hybrids of many different species.

Source by Stephen Whitaker