Tilapia (genus)

Tilapia sparrmanii

Tilapia is a genus of African cichlids. The genus name is derived from " thlapi ", a general term for fish in the Bantu languages. Tilapia was the most species-rich genus of cichlid Africa about 100 years ago. In several revisions, the first mouthbrooding species new genera have been assigned and limited to about 40 tilapia substrate- spawning species. Early 2013 the subgenera Coptodon, Heterotilapia and Pelmatolapia were then raised to the rank of independent genera and Coelotilapia erected as a new genus for Tilapia joka, so that only four species left in the genus Tilapia sensu stricto.


  • Tilapia baloni Trewavas & Stewart, 1975
  • Tilapia guinasana Trewavas, 1936
  • Tilapia ruweti (Poll & Thys van den Audenaerde, 1965)
  • Tilapia sparrmanii Smith, 1840 ( type species )

Three other species, " tilapia " busumana ( Günther, 1903), " tilapia " brevimanus Boulenger, 1991 and " tilapia " pra Dunz & Schliewen 2010 remain provisionally in the genus, but belong to a different tribe, the Gobiocichlini and must in future be assigned to a new, previously undescribed genus.


The genus Tilapia ( Sensu stricto ) occurs in up to Luvua, the Lake Mweru and the Luapula in the southern Congo Basin from Kwango. In the south, the range extends from the Kunene River on the Okavango and the Zambezi to the Limpopo, in the east to Lake Malawi, the Zambian Bangweulusee. The distribution area includes Lake Ngami south of the Okavango delta, the Guinassee and Otjikotosee, two karstic lakes in northern Namibia and the northern tributaries of the Orange River. In addition, the genus in southern Gabon and the Republic of Congo occurs.