Tracing its origin to the Nile River, tilapia has been farm raised for decades and is cultivated in warm waters the world over. It is the second-most cultured group of fish in the world, exceeded only by carp. Domestically, tilapia are cultured in the southern and western states. Costa Rica and Colombia are major suppliers of fresh product. Three of the most common species cultivated in the United States are Tilapia nilotica, an emerald-green tilapia known for its high yield and rapid growth; T. aureus, a cold-resistant strain; and T. mossambica, noted for its reddish skin color, which makes it popular for the live market and display tanks. Legend has it that tilapia was the fish Jesus of Nazareth multiplied a thousandfold to feed the masses. This gave the species its frequently used name of “St. Peter’s fish,” a name the FDA does not allow to be marketed. Whole tilapia normally range from 1 to 2 pounds. Some buyers prefer fish larger than 2 pounds.
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.