Zebra tilapia in exhibit

Zebra Tilapia

Scientific Name

Tilapia buttikoferi






Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone


Coastal rivers and streams with rocky substrates

Estimated Wild Population

Zebra tilapia in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern

More Information

Physical Description

Zebra tilapias were named for their black and white stripes—which resemble the pattern more commonly associated with zebras. They can grow up to 16 inches long and travel in large groups to fend off larger predators. Zebra tilapias are omnivorous, eating a variety of animals and plants. Females brood their fertilized eggs in their mouth—and keep newborns trapped inside for an additional three months after hatching. Newborns are independent one week after being released, but return to their mother's mouth at night and when sensing danger.

Interesting Fact 1

This species goes by several other names, such as tiger tilapia, hornet cichlid, and zebra cichlid.

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care. 

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

ADOPT an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.  

Browse the Wish List

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Learn More