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Zebra Tilapia Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Tilapia buttikoferi
  • Class

    Ray-finned fishes
  • Order

  • Range

    Found in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

  • Status

    Zebra tilapias are considered a Species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

  • Habitat

    These freshwater fish tend to live in coastal rivers and streams with rocky substrates, but they thrive in most waters and do not require the same alkaline conditions necessary to other African cichlids.

  • Niche

    As adults, these diurnal fish--active during the day--are territorial and aggressive. They live and travel in large groups to allow smaller individuals to hide from larger predators. Zebra tilapias are omnivorous, eating a variety of animal- and vegetable-based foods.

  • Life History

    Like most African cichlids, zebra tilapias are mouth-brooders--the female broods her fertilized eggs in her mouth. She can't eat during this process. Young zebra tilapias, known as "fry," hatch after 10-12 days but stay in their mother's mouth for three months until they are about a quarter-inch long. They are independent one week after being released. However, until they grow too large, they still return to their mother's mouth at night and when sensing danger.


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