Oreochromis aureus
(Steindachner 1864)
Family Cichlidae

Lateral view of two blue tilapia
The photo above shows an adult, top, and a juvenile, bottom, blue tilapia. These fish are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Top: UF 190929 Bottom: UF 187066 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

The blue tilapia is a member of the cichlid and tilapia family. It has a deep-bodied, compressed shape. This species is olive to bluish gray dorsally, yellow-olive to silver laterally and white ventrally. The caudal fin has many irregular bands and a pinkish-red posterior edge. There is a small mouth with bicuspid jaw teeth, and both jaws have an inner row of smaller tricuspid teeth. The “tilapia spot” is on the base of the second dorsal fin and is most prominent in juveniles. Blue tilapia live in a wide variety of habitats including roadside ditches, canals, springs, wet prairies, creeks, rivers and lakes with vegetation.

Status & distribution

  • Status — Non-indigenous freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Peninsula drainages
  • River Drainages — Withlacoochee River, Tampa Bay, the Myakka or Peace River, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee River, the Everglades, Indian River, the Tolomato or Matnazas River and the St. John’s River
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