Tilapiine cichlid

Last updated

Tilapiine cichlids
Tilapia sparrmanii.jpg
Tilapia sparrmanii
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Tribe: Tilapiini
Genera [1]


The Tilapiini (occasionally Tilapini) are a tribe within the family Cichlidae commonly known as tilapiine cichlids. Formerly this tribe contained many other genera and species, including the economically important Oreochromis and Sarotherodon , but a taxonomic review found that this grouping was paraphyletic and most were moved to Coelotilapini, Coptodonini, Heterotilapini, Oreochromini and Pelmatolapiini. Together, most species in these tribes are called "tilapias". In a more distant past, a number of other, more different genera like Steatocranus also were included in Tilapiini. With these as separate, Tilapiini now is a much more restricted tribe with only three genera and about half a dozen species from Central and Southern Africa. [1] [2] [3]



The tilapiines were recognised by the ichthyologist Ethylwynn Trewavas.

mtDNA-based phylogenies of tilapiines must be evaluated with caution, however, as they are usually close to, but do not represent the true evolutionary relationships of these fishes. The reason is that hybridization within any one of these major lineages is known to usually produce fertile offspring, and might [4] also do so between the lineages. Gene pools in these fishes have been kept (largely) separate by behavioral cues for millions of years, but reproductive incompatibility has been far slower to evolve, like in many Pseudocrenilabrinae (African cichlids). [5]

A small sample size—one to a mere handful of specimens per taxon—as is often used in molecular studies further acerbates the problem. As discussed below for the example of mouthbreeding, nonmolecular data such as morphology or behavior have also turned out to be extremely prone to homoplasies, not the least due to the small but ongoing gene flow between evolutionarily quite distant gene pools.

Essentially, most traditional and mtDNA-based phylogenetic hypothesis for tilapiines must be considered with a high degree of caution. This problem could be alleviated to some extent by using nDNA sequences. Comparing these with the mtDNA data, hybridization effects could be discerned. Also, resolution of nDNA likely is still good enough to delimit the clades that apparently exist in the "tilapiines" if numerous taxa and specimens are sampled. Researchers could then reanalyze morphological data to discover actual autapomorphies.

Evolution seems to run quickly in this group. Even the fast-evolving mtDNA sequences often are incapable of properly resolving interspecies relationships. [6] The precise evolutionary history of some tilapiines may not be properly resolved with presently available methods, for the reasons discussed above.

Diversity of breeding behaviour

Like other cichlids, tilapiines exhibit complex reproductive behaviours and guard their eggs and fry. Broadly speaking, the plesiomorphic trait is substratum-spawning behavior, meaning that the fish form pairs, lay the eggs on a rock or into a depression made in the substrate, and then both parents guard the eggs and fry.

Related Research Articles

Cichlid Family of fishes

Cichlids are fish from the family Cichlidae in the order Cichliformes. Cichlids were traditionally classed in a suborder, the [Labroidei]], along with the wrasses (Labridae), in the order Perciformes, but molecular studies have contradicted this grouping. The closest living relatives of cichlids are probably the convict blennies, and both families are classified in the 5th edition of Fishes of the World as the two families in the Cichliformes, part of the subseries Ovalentaria. This family is both large and diverse. At least 1,650 species have been scientifically described, making it one of the largest vertebrate families. New species are discovered annually, and many species remain undescribed. The actual number of species is therefore unknown, with estimates varying between 2,000 and 3,000.

Tilapia Common name for many cichlid species of fish

Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the coelotilapine, coptodonine, heterotilapine, oreochromine, pelmatolapiine, and tilapiine tribes, with the economically most important species placed in the Coptodonini and Oreochromini. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes, and less commonly found living in brackish water. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisanal fishing in Africa, and they are of increasing importance in aquaculture and aquaponics. Tilapia can become a problematic invasive species in new warm-water habitats such as Australia, whether deliberately or accidentally introduced, but generally not in temperate climates due to their inability to survive in cold water.


Mouthbrooding, also known as oral incubation and buccal incubation, is the care given by some groups of animals to their offspring by holding them in the mouth of the parent for extended periods of time. Although mouthbrooding is performed by a variety of different animals, such as the Darwin's frog, fishes are by far the most diverse mouthbrooders. Mouthbrooding has evolved independently in several different families of fish.

The Wami tilapia is a tilapiine cichlid that grows to over 20 cm in length and is considered a useful food fish in Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar, where it may have been introduced by man. It is tolerant of brackish water and grows well in saline pools, making it particularly suitable for aquaculture by communities living close to the sea. Like other tilapia it is an omnivore and will feed on algae, plants, small invertebrates, and detritus. The common name refers to the Wami River.

Nile tilapia Species of fish

The Nile tilapia is a species of tilapia, a cichlid fish native to the northern half of Africa and the Levante area, including Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon. Numerous introduced populations exist outside its natural range. It is also commercially known as mango fish, nilotica, or boulti. The first name leads to easy confusion with another tilapia which is traded commercially, the mango tilapia.

<i>Oreochromis</i> Genus of fishes

Oreochromis is a large genus of oreochromine cichlids, fishes endemic to Africa and the Middle East. A few species from this genus have been introduced far outside their native range and are important in aquaculture. Many others have very small ranges; some are seriously threatened, and O. ismailiaensis and O. lidole possibly are extinct. Although Oreochromis primarily are freshwater fish of rivers, lakes and similar habitats, several species can also thrive in brackish waters and some even survive in hypersaline conditions with a salinity that far surpasses that of seawater. In addition to overfishing and habitat loss, some of the more localized species are threatened by the introduction of other, more widespread Oreochromis species into their ranges. This is because they—in addition to competing for the local resources—often are able to hybridize.

<i>Sarotherodon</i> Genus of fishes

Sarotherodon is a genus of oreochromine cichlids that are native to the northern half of Africa, with a single species, S. galilaeus, also ranging into the Levant. A couple of species from this genus have been introduced far outside their native range, and are important in aquaculture. Most other species have small ranges and some are seriously threatened. They mainly inhabit fresh and brackish water, but a few can live in salt water. Species in this genus, as well as those in several other oreochromine and tilapiine genera, share the common name "tilapia" and historically they were included in the genus Tilapia.

<i>Neolamprologus</i> Genus of fishes

Neolamprologus is a genus of cichlids endemic to eastern Africa with all but one species, Neolamprologus devosi from the Malagarasi River, occurring in Lake Tanganyika. It is the largest genus of cichlids in Lake Tanganyika and also the largest genus in the tribe Lamprologini, which includes Altolamprologus, Chalinochromis, Julidochromis, Lamprologus, Lepidiolamprologus, Telmatochromis and Variabilichromis. The latter is a monotypic genus doubtfully distinct from Neolamprologus.

<i>Astatoreochromis</i> Genus of fishes

Astatoreochromis is a small genus of haplochromine cichlids endemic to riverine habitats in East Africa. Tilapia bemini, usually placed in the tilapiines, may be rather close to this genus. However, extensive hybridization capabilities of African cichlids seriously confound analyses of phylogeny based on mtDNA, while morphological analyses tend to yield little information due to widespread parallel evolution.

Haplochromine Tribe of fishes

The haplochromine cichlids are a tribe of cichlids in subfamily Pseudocrenilabrinae called Haplochromini. This group includes the type genus (Haplochromis) plus a number of closely related genera such as Aulonocara, Astatotilapia, and Chilotilapia. They are endemic to eastern, southern and northern Africa, except for Astatotilapia flaviijosephi in the Middle East. A common name in a scientific context is East African cichlids – while they are not restricted to that region, they are the dominant Cichlidae there. This tribe was extensively studied by Ethelwynn Trewavas, who made major reviews in 1935 and 1989, at the beginning and at the end of her career in ichthyology. Even today, numerous new species are being described each year.

<i>Tilapia</i> (genus) Genus of fishes

Tilapia is a genus of cichlid fishes endemic to freshwater habitats in Southern Africa. In the past this was a very large genus including all species with the common name tilapia, but today the vast majority are placed in other genera.

Mozambique tilapia Species of fish

The Mozambique tilapia is an oreochromine cichlid fish native to southeastern Africa. Dull colored, the Mozambique tilapia often lives up to a decade in its native habitats. It is a popular fish for aquaculture. Due to human introductions, it is now found in many tropical and subtropical habitats around the globe, where it can become an invasive species because of its robust nature. These same features make it a good species for aquaculture because it readily adapts to new situations. It is known as black tilapia in Colombia and as blue kurper in South Africa.

<i>Haplochromis</i> Genus of fishes

Haplochromis is a ray-finned fish genus in the family Cichlidae. It has been used as the default "wastebin taxon" for Pseudocrenilabrinae cichlids of the East African Rift, and as such became the "largest" fish "genus". Many of these cichlids are popular aquarium fishes; like similar Haplochromini they are known as "haplos", "happies" or "haps" among aquarium enthusiasts.

<i>Oreochromis amphimelas</i> Species of fish

Oreochromis amphimelas is a species of tilapia cichlid endemic to north–central Tanzania, where it is found in Lake Manyara and a number of other saline lakes with closed basins. Maximum recorded size is 28 cm (11 in) in standard length.

<i>Oreochromis leucostictus</i> Species of fish

Oreochromis leucostictus is a species of cichlid native to Albertine Rift Valley lakes and associated rivers in DR Congo and Uganda. It has now been introduced widely elsewhere East Africa, and is believed to have negative ecological impact, particularly on native tilapias. This species is reported to reach a standard length of up to 36.3 cm (14.3 in), but is usually much smaller. It is exploited by small-scale fishery and aquaculture operations.

<i>Oreochromis variabilis</i> Species of fish

Oreochromis variabilis, the Victoria tilapia, is a critically endangered species of African cichlid native to Lake Victoria and its tributaries, Lake Kyoga, Lake Kwania, and Lake Bisina (Salisbury), as well as being found in the Victoria Nile above Murchison Falls. This species can reach a standard length of 30 cm (12 in). This species is important to local commercial fisheries and is potentially important in aquaculture. It is also found in the aquarium trade.

Pseudocrenilabrinae Subfamily of fishes

The Pseudocrenilabrinae are a subfamily in the cichlid family of fishes to which, according to a study from 2004, includes all the Middle Eastern and African cichlids with the exception of the unusual Heterochromis multidens and the Malagasy species. This subfamily includes more than 1,100 species. Previous authors recognized additional African subfamilies, e.g. the Tilapiinae of Hoedeman (1947), Tylochrominae of Poll (1986), or Boulengerochrominae of Tawil (2001).

<i>Pelmatolapia</i> Genus of fishes

Pelmatolapia is a genus of cichlids native to tropical Africa. This genus and Pterochromis are the only in the tribe Pelmatolapiini, but formerly they were included in Tilapiini.

Oreochromini Tribe of fishes

Oreochromini is a tribe of cichlids in the Pseudocrenilabrinae subfamily that is native to Africa and Western Asia, but a few species have been widely introduced to other parts of the world. It was formerly considered to be part of the tribe Tilapini but more recent workers have found that the Tilapini sensu lato is paraphyletic. Despite this change, species in Oreochromini are still referred to by the common name tilapia and some of the most important tilapia in aquaculture —certain species of Oreochromis and Sarotherodon— are part of this tribe. In contrast, several species have small ranges and are seriously threatened; a few are already extinct or possibly extinct.

Oreochromis mortimeri, the Kariba tilapia or kurper bream, is a species of cichlid, formerly classified as a Tilapiine cichlid but now placed in the genus Oreochromis, the type genus of the tribe Oreochromini of the subfamily Pseudocrenilabrinae. It is found in the rivers of south central Africa especially the middle Zambezi where it is endangered by the spread of invasive congener Oreochromis niloticus.


  1. 1 2 "Pseudocrenilabrinae". NCBI. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  2. Nagl et al. (2001), Klett & Meyer (2002)
  3. Andreas R.Dunz & Ulrich K.Schliewen (2013). "Molecular phylogeny and revised classification of the haplotilapiine cichlid fishes formerly referred to as Tilapia". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 68 (1): 64–80. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.03.015. PMID   23542002.
  4. LI Si-Fa; ZHAO Yan; FAN Wu-Jiang; CAI Wan-Qi; XU Ying-Fang (October 2011). "Possible genetic reproductive isolation between two tilapiine genera and species: Oreochromis niloticus and Sarotherodon melanotheron". Bioline.
  5. Nagl et al. (2001)
  6. Compare support values and proposed relationships in Nagl et al. (2001) to Klett & Meyer (2002)

Further reading