Sarotherodon melanotheron
(Rüppell 1852)
Family Cichlidae

Lateral view of a blackchin tilapia
The blackchin tilapia shown above was collected in Brevard County, Florida in 2014. It is now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection, UF 187787. Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

The blackchin tilapia is a member of the cichlid and tilapia family. This species is deep-bodied and compressed, with olive to metallic green coloration apparent dorsally, silver with bronze streaks apparent laterally and bright white coloration apparent ventrally. Adults have scattered, irregular black blotches on the lower part of the head, extending onto the body in some individuals. This species has a small mouth, and the black “tilapia spot” is located anteriorly on the base of the second dorsal fin and most prominently on juveniles. The blackchin tilapia inhabits a variety of freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats ranging from creeks and rivers, drainage ditches, canals and ponds to shallow backwater coastal lagoons and bays.

Status & distribution

  • Status — Non-indigenous freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Peninsula drainages
  • River Drainages — Tampa Bay, the Everglades and the Indian River
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