Blue Tilapia: Oreochromis aureus
Young nondescript gray with a black spot at rear of dorsal fin; adults generally blue-gray shading to white on the belly; borders of dorsal and caudal fins with red to pink borders; broken lateral line and the spiny dorsal fin is joined to the soft dorsal fin. In central Florida, anglers can assume every tilapia they observe in fresh water is a blue, and any tilapia over 3 pounds is also likely a blue tilapia.
Female Mozambique tilapia (O. mossambicus) nearly identical, but doesn’t grow as large and currently only occurs in coastal areas south of Titusville; possible hybridization between blue and Mozambique tilapias further complicates identification; male Mozambique tilapia easily distinguished by large mouth and black coloration when breeding. Photo to right is of a spawning male and female Mozambique tilapia.
Widespread and abundant in Florida; found in fertile lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and canals. It is tolerant of saltwater and found in some near shore marine habitats, such as Tampa Bay.
Native to north Africa and the Middle East.