Breeding Tilapia – Nugget 2 – by John Musser

We have been breeding and raising Tilapia successfully now for many years. I was taught by the best in the nation but I had to apply everything I learned. It was NOT easy but now breeding is a simple thing to me, the hardest was in smaller glass tanks. Many have tried and still don’t get it. It is a science just like Aquaponics but you can learn.


AESL has received hundreds of requests for this training and this is the very first time we are making it public.


In the coming new year we are starting “online training” courses on all the above. If you are on our mailing list or rss feed, we will let everyone know when we have our courses developed.


In the meantime I want to share some NUGGETS that I hope you will like.


Today’s nugget is on:

Breeding Tilapia – Nugget 2

Hint:  Don’t throw out information on breeding that you may think to be too simple.

  • The male Tilapia’s goal is once he reaches breeding age is to establish a territory that he can defend and to attract as many females as possible. Before you even introduce the males, have his domain prepared beforehand. Don’t deprive him or yourself. Give the male the right conditions from the beginning and then watch nature take its course from the first few days.

  • The male tilapia seeks females who are ready to drop eggs for him to fertilize and he chases out of this territory any tilapia or other fish that is not ready to breed with him. This is why you should have your breeding areas in a somewhat undisturbed area if you are using glass tanks.

  • The female tilapia’s biological goal is to reach breeding maturity. She then searches for a suitable male who is able to keep other fish out of his breeding territory while they are breeding. When she finds a suitable territory, the male will start by chasing out any other fish.

  • The size of the territory the male will usually choose to defend is generally 2 to 4 times his body length in diameter in a circle or semicircle. At AESL we teach that if you have a 55 gallon tank only keep two males. The Terra Cotta pots should be ten inches from the end of the glass and both turned and open toward the end of the tanks.

  •  The breeding follows a precise pattern with the male first establishing a territory. With glass tank breeding we help to establish by placing a clay flowerpot at two ends. Then, when a female is ready to breed she will swim into the region the male is defending.

  • The female will lay 3 to 5 eggs at a time in the center of the male’s territory, usually in the flower pot, then she will swim a little distance away. The male will swim over the eggs and fertilize them, then she will return and pick them up in her mouth and repeat the dance with the male all over again. The male and female continue their spawning until the female has a full mouth and this can take from 30 or 40 minutes to 2 to 3 hours for a large female. Don’t let anyone disturb this process. The larger she is the more eggs she lays at one time.  The number may range from a few to several hundred.

  •  The number of eggs the female produces is related to several key things; such as food and her mouth size to name a couple. The most important is her size in grams and her condition in terms of being well fed. The female mossambica, for instance, start breeding at 20 to 30 grams and continue up to and over 1,000 grams.



A well-fed, healthy one ounce female can produce as many as 50 or more eggs per breeding and up to 2,000 or more when she is fully-grown. I have witnessed one of our females open her mouth and have seen a dark cloud of fish. We have one 6 inch female that releases 400- 475 fry once or twice a month. Tilapia are old enough to reproduce at about three months of age.  This is one of the reasons why people love to breed Tilapia.

Yours for sustainability,

John Musser


P.S.  IF you like this and would like more NUGGETS then please comment below. Your private e-mail will always be safe with AESL. You may also visit our Facebook Page to join the fun conversations and ask your questions there!

You may copy and paste this for your notes. If you use this material online please give proper credit and then let us know,  so no one else tells us first.  You can simply tell us if you choose to use our material (online) below in the feedback section.

Copyright  AESL  2012



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Fishmaster Chrisreply
January 01, 2013 at 11:01 PM

I would love to be trained in breeding them!

August 29, 2013 at 08:08 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Fishmaster Chris, are you signed up for our Tilapia breeding webinar? You’d love it –

September 17, 2013 at 09:09 AM

i want to breed talapia

Fake Oakleysreply
September 27, 2013 at 05:09 AM

Breeding Tilapia – Nugget 2 – by John Musser « Aquaponics and Earth Aquaponics and Earth

Tommy Breply
December 19, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Hi. I would like to learn more about tilapia breeding and commercial interest. Thanks.

Steve B.reply
April 19, 2014 at 11:04 AM

I just recently got on your list. This is the kind of info I am looking for. Anything to do with breeding and raising Talapia. Most grateful.

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