Pelmatolapia mariae
(Boulenger 1899)
Family Cichlidae

Lateral view of spotted tilapia
The photo above shows an adult, top, and a juvenile, bottom, spotted tilapia. These fish are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Top: UF 237983 Bottom: UF 237902 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

The spotted tilapia is a member of the cichlid and tilapia family. It has a moderately deep, compressed oval body, and adults have between four and six dark gray to black blotches along the side of the body. Juveniles are yellow to green with between six and eight black bars on the body. There is a black stripe crossing the eye on a diagonal from the nape to an area just posterior to the corner of the mouth, and it is most distinct on juveniles. The black “tilapia spot” is present anteriorly on the dorsal fin, and it is also most prominent in juveniles. The spotted tilapia inhabits roadside ditches, canals, wet prairies, rivers, creeks and lakes.

Status & distribution

  • Status — Non-indigenous freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Western and North Central drainages
  • River Drainages — Caloosahatchee River, the Everglades and the Indian River
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