Tilapia Domestic Violence, breeding

This is a follow up to my article about keeping tilapia from breeding.

So now that we have talked about how to stop the fish from breeding, how do you get them to breed when you want them to. I’ve read where people will put two females into a 50 gallon aquarium with one male and give him a flower pot as the “love cave” then warm up the temperatures for them. I believe 86 F is probably needed to get this to work. I never got my aquarium that warm and the females were never in the mood so the male spent most of his time beating them up until I finally separated them. This is how many female tilapia wind up dead since there is no domestic abuse hot line from the fish tank. Even if the water is warm enough, there may still be violence among the fish in such small tanks.

Now if per chance you have two female and one male in a fish tank that does get warm enough for the breeding to get going, there is another domestic tilapia violence issue. A Female tilapia holding a mount full of eggs or fry ready to be released will become very protective and may be the one doing the battering of other fish in the tank.

I have had fish killed by both of the above Breeding tilapia domestic violence issues. Both times it was in 50 gallon or less tanks with only a few fish. I have also had the male die when he was so excited he jumped out of a tank.

Now the above makes it sound like I never managed to breed any tilapia but I kept killing my breeders. Well that isn’t really the case, I only lost about 3 or 4 fish total to domestic fish violence in small tanks before giving up on watching the process closely. Next I will let you know what did work for me.

I did actually get successful breeding going on when I threw a dozen tilapia into my duckweed tank when the water was good and warm. I lost no fish to domestic violence in that situation (well perhaps I can’t say that but I lost no large fish to it. It is possible that some fry ate smaller fry and I would never know it.) Anyway, in that system we were able to breed huge numbers of tilapia to the point that we were feeding tialpia fry to the chickens as snacks (chickens love pumpkin seed size fish.)

The biggest challenge with the above set up was the duckweed cover made it really tricky to inspect the fish and if I was feeding pellets to the adults and high protein powder to the fry, the duckweed cover remained. I could get rid of the duckweed cover completely by not feeding the fish for a week but that would mean the fry are not getting the high protein feed they need to get off to a good start and allow them to grow fast. Apparently how the fry spend their first month greatly affects how they will grow the rest of their life. This is likely why escaped tilapia can be such a trash fish in many places, they tend to wind up stunted and overpopulated. My breeding experiment would probably have worked better had it not started off as a duckweed tank.

It is not hard to breed Tilapia.

6 comments to Tilapia Domestic Violence, breeding

  • Hello there.
    An aquaponic student here in Saudi Arabia.
    I’ve been studying and practicing it in my own little balcony here in Jeddah. A couple of months back I decided to try adding Tilapia to my system but ended up with more than 7 8-month old goldfish dead, not including they also tried to kill each other. Some are more aggressive than others.

    Two days ago I tried again to buy 8 more new (adult are the only thing i can buy from the supermarket originally intended for cooking), anyway, as before, they were very aggressive and a few ended up becoming the punching bag. I decided to cook the 4 that got badly beaten and it turned out 3 of them have eggs still in their tummy and i think one is male with that big white sack inside.

    It is very hard to get fry here in Saudi Arabia because I don’t think a lot are doing AP. In my knowledge I probably have gotten in touched to less than 10 who wants to learn about it, and only one who actually tried but failed.

    Do you have any tip other than separating them?///



    • TCLynx

      Aggression can be a challenge with Tilapia. If you only want to keep a small number in a tank and breed them, then you probably want one male and 2-5 females and the tank needs to be fairly large to keep them from beating up on each other.

      If you are just trying to raise them to eat, you may want to keep them much more crowded and that sometimes makes it so the aggressive one can’t beat up another one too bad since the aggression will be spread out among too many other fish.

      How big is your tank?

  • David R

    How many times a female tilapia breed in a year.

    • TCLynx

      That will depend on temperature and conditions and if you are stripping them of eggs or not. If you are letting the females hatch the eggs naturally then you need to give them more time between breeding so she can eat a bit and not waste away. If you are stripping the eggs to hatch them without the mother, then she could probably breed every 2-3 weeks when temperatures and conditions are good.

  • tony

    I have 300 gal tank with about 24 adults. 3 females in the tank with about 21 males. 3 aggressive males have taken control of the 3 clay pots but guard them. I wonder if I should remove the males and try to see if the next set of males are less aggressive.

    • TCLynx

      If you are trying to breed the tilapia, you have your ratio of females to males all backward. You want at least 3 females for each male. I had good luck with breeding when I placed about a dozen fish into a 300 gallon tank that was over 80 degrees F.
      IF you want to breed tilapia, you probably want to place most of the males into a separate grow out tank and just put one good male breeder in with your three females.

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