Raising the production capacities of red tilapia will contribute to enhancing food security – Red tilapia characterized by fast growth, taste quality and abundance of meat and ability to produce proteins of high nutritional value. It is also rich in “omega-3” fats and vitamins “B” and “D”. And known as water chicken, the red tilapia has become increasingly popular because its similar appearance to the marine red snapper gives it higher market value. The original red tilapias were genetic mutants. The first red tilapia, produced in Taiwan in the late 1960s, was a cross between a mutant reddish- orange female Mozambique tilapia and a normal male Nile tilapia which became famous in more than 170 countries around the world, due to its ease of breeding and cultivation, in addition to the rewarding material value. And It was called the Taiwanese red tilapia.
Another red strain of tilapia was developed in Florida in the 1970s by crossing a normal coloured female Zanzibar tilapia with a red-gold Mozambique tilapia.
This kind of tilapia is characterized by a set of characteristics that made it one of the preferred species for breeding and cultivation in fish farm ponds, as it comes in the third rank among the types of fish nominated for cultivation in water ponds, and its cultivation and breeding is excellent in various parts of the world, as its farms are found in Taiwan, India, Kenya and Mexico And Egypt.
It tolerates salinity up to 35 degrees, good growth, so the world turned to it as a marine fish.
It has an overall “bluegill” profile with a body that are more deeply compressed than other tilapias. Pure bread species are a uniform red color and pinkish ventrally, but fade to a reddish-white upon death. They have a small head and mid-sized eyes. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 9 or 10 rays; their caudal fin is rounded; and, their dorsal fin has 15 to 18 spines and 10 to 13 rays with a long base. They have 16 to 22 gill rakers on their first arch and their lateral line is interrupted. Their body is covered with cycloid scales. The Red Tilapia reaches a maximum 38 cm (15 inches) in length and 4.3 kg (9.5 lbs) in weight. They are very tolerant of brackish waters and of temperatures between 13oC (55oF) and 37oC (98oF). They are opportunistic omnivores consuming diatoms, invertebrates, small fry, and vegetation ranging from macroalgae to rooted plants to decaying plant material. They are active diurnally. Their behavioral patterns are not well documented but they are assumed to be very similar to or identical to the Blue Tilapia and the Mozambique Tilapia from which they are derived.
The mentioned fish are wonderful additions to an aquaponics system as they serve as a natural biological control for many aquatic plant problems. Adults can reach up to 24 inches in length and up to 9.5 pounds.
Suitable environments for cultivation
It is considered one of the species most able to adapt to the different degrees of salinity of the aquatic environment, so it is suitable for cultivation and rearing in different aquatic environments such as India, including the following:
- Environment of rivers and canals;
- The environment of reservoirs and lakes;
- Village ponds and irrigation tanks;
- River estuary environment;
- Salt water.
Red tilapia: a healthy and safe option for consumption in light of the challenges facing the food industry as:
- It has a short production cycle of around six months, allowing farmers to produce multiple crops per year. This makes it an ideal candidate for small-scale aquaculture operations that can provide income and food security for rural communities;
- It can be raised in ponds or tanks using low-cost feeds such as agricultural by-products or commercial pellets. It also has a high feed conversion ratio, meaning it can convert feed into body weight more efficiently than other species;
- Its high financial value in the markets;
- The shape of the meat and its white color in addition to the good taste;
- The ability of this species to withstand huge fluctuations in the aquatic environment;
- Its ability to produce high-quality protein from low-quality protein sources, so it is considered one of the preferred types as an animal protein source for humans;
- Its ability to adapt to high water salinity, which reaches 10 g / liter, and it can be bred in salty sea water;
- Ease of harvesting and transportation from earthen ponds compared to Nile tilapia;
- Red tilapia feed on cheap fish feed.
Challenges in red tilapia farming
- The non-availability of a suffi cient quantity of quality seed;
- Limits commercial level farming of red tilapia in many parts of the world;
- The improper management of broodstock may lead to inbreeding which results in low quality seed production;
- Red tilapia is a hybrid variety, therefore, strict biosecurity measures must be implemented in farms to prevent the escapement of culture stocks to the wild which may lead to genetic pool contamination of wild or native stocks;
- Sex conversion and all male seed production using hormone incorporated feed may have impacts on natural ecosystems due to residual effects.
Red tilapia is a promising fish species that can contribute significantly to enhancing food security and improving nutrition in many parts of the world. Its production efficiency, nutritional benefits, and adaptability to different environmental conditions make it an ideal candidate for small-scale aquaculture operations. Therefore, governments and development organizations should invest in research and development programs to promote the sustainable production of red tilapia and support small-scale farmers in adopting this promising fish species.
Raising the production capacities of red tilapia will contribute to enhancing food security