Friday , 21 June 2024

Farming Tilapia


Tilapia is known as the “aquatic chicken.” It has become a global staple fish and protein source because it grows fast and breeds easily in captivity. An easy fish to culture, it is tolerant to a wide range of salinity and temperature levels. Moreover, farming tilapia requires minimal inputs.

How to breed and culture TILAPIA?

Female broodstock (Oreochromis niloticus) with eggs in its mouth

Hatchery in netcages

  1. Install 3 x 10 x 0.75 m fine-meshed netcages in ponds or 3 x 10 x 1.5 m fine-meshed netcages in lakes
  2. Stock four (3 females and 1 male) or five (4 females and 1 male) tilapia breeders (3-4 month old, minimum 100 g) per square meter
  3. Feed breeders at 3% of total biomass with tilapia feeds containing 40% protein
  4. Check for the presence of fry three weeks after stocking the breeders
  5. Collect fry and transfer to nursery netcages
  6. Place breeders in separate holding facilities and continue feeding them high-protein tilapia feeds for the next breeding cycle
A fixed cage module

Nursery in netcages

  1. Stock 800-1,000 fry/m2 in netcages of appropriate mesh size
  2. Feed fry with supplemental feeds to avoid or minimize cannibalism
  3. Sort fry after two weeks
  4. Re-stock fingerlings according to size in separate netcages
  5. Transfer fingerlings to grow-out enclosures when total length is 37 mm (size 17) to 46 mm (size 14)

Grow-out in ponds

  1. Prepare the pond by sun drying the pond bottom and applying lime to stabilize soil and water pH. Lime is unnecessary when soil pH is above 7.5 and the alkalinity of the pond water is above 50 mg/liter of CaCO3
  2. Stock 1-2 fingerlings/m2 for extensive systems, 3-4 fingerlings/m2 for semi-intensive systems, and 5-10 fingerlings/m2 for intensive systems
  3. Feed fingerlings with tilapia feeds daily at 2-3% of the total fish biomass in semi-intensive systems and at 3-5% of the total fish biomass in intensive systems
  4. Intensive systems require good water management (water change as needed) apart from additional provisions like paddlewheel aerators
  5. Harvest fish when they reach the market size of 150-300 g (4-6 months)

Is TILAPIA seed production profitable?

Technical information for a small-scale netcage-based hatchery

No. of broodstock (F=1,600; M=400) 2,000
Female broodstock that produces fry per cycle (%) 80
Fry production per female broodstock (pcs) 200
Production per cycle (pcs) 256,000
Number of cycles per month, 36 days 2
Productive months per year 10
Production per month (pcs) 358,400
Recovery after one month (%) 70
Production per year (pcs) 3,584,000
Farm gate fry selling price, size 22 (PhP/pc) 0.45
Gross sales 1,612,800

Costs-and-returns (per year) (as of 2016)

Total variable cost (PhP) 436,000
Total fixed cost (PhP) 450,000
Net income per year (PhP) 726,800
Internal rate of return (%) 146
Return-on-investment (%) 163
Payback period (years) 0.48

Is TILAPIA farming profitable?

Technical information for a 5-hectare tilapia grow-out pond

Project duration (years) 5
Area (ha) 5
Stocking density (per m2) 7
Total stocks per crop 350,000
Croppings per year 2
Average weight at harvest (kg) 0.250
Feed conversion ratio 1.8
Survival rate (%) 75
Recovery at harvest (pieces) 262,500
Total weight at harvest (kg) 65,625
Farm gate price (PhP/kg) 55
Gross sales (PhP) 3,609,375

Costs-and-returns (as of 2016)

Total variable cost per cropping (PhP) 2,742,000
Total fixed cost per cropping (PhP) 531,813
Net income per year (PhP) 335,562
Internal rate of return (%) 108
Return-on-investment (%) 129
Payback period (years) 0.72

SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department. (2016). Tilapia hatchery and grow-out [Brochure]. Tigbauan, Iloilo, Philippines: Author.


Watch related videos!

Tilapia Cage Farming

Tilapia Cage Culture

Get a copy of our manuals!

AEM 66 Tilapia culture: The basics (2020) 54 pp
Maria Rowena Romana-Eguia, Ruel Eguia, Rolando Pakingking Jr.
An aquaculture extension manual that revisits the basics of tilapia culture with updated information on the grow-out technology in cages and ponds. Updated cost and returns analyses were also included to guide farmers.
Download here for free
Each print copy costs US$6

AEM 51 Modyular na pag-aalaga ng tilapya sa mga kulungang lambat (2011) 27 pp
Ruel Eguia, Maria Rowena Romana-Eguia, Nerissa Salayo
An extension manual in Filipino detailing the traditional cage culture method, the concept of modular cage culture, the economic feasibility of modular cage culture, and post-harvest processing.
Each copy costs US$5

Thumbnail Tilapia farming in cages and ponds (2004) 40 pp
Ruel Eguia, Maria Rowena Romana-Eguia
This 40-page manual describes the farming practices for tilapia in cages, pens, ponds, and tanks. Also details selection of quality seedstock, maintenance of stock (feeding, water management), and harvesting.
Download here for free

AEM 23 Pagpapaanak ng Tilapya, 3rd edition (2007) 52 pp
Ruel Eguia, Maria Rowena Romana-Eguia
A 52-page manual in Filipino that discusses the spawning of tilapia in concrete tank hatcheries, hapa hatcheries in ponds and lakes, and the hatchery operations of tilapia.

Download here for free
Each copy costs US$3.50*
*Special authors’ price

AEM 22 Pag-aalaga ng Tilapya, 3rd edition (2007) 55 pp
Ruel Eguia, Maria Rowena Romana-Eguia
A 55-page manual in Filipino detailing the culture and grow-out of tilapia until its harvest. This manual also includes a list of government agencies in the Philippines involved in tilapia research and development.

Download here for free
Each copy costs US$4*
*Special authors’ price

Check out our online bookstore for more titles:

Attend our hands-on training!

Tilapia Hatchery and Grow-out Operations training course at SEAFDEC/AQD’s Binangonan Freshwater Station.

View training brochure

To apply, kindly contact:

Training and Information Division
(63-33) 330 7030

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