Interesting Tilapia Facts
Interesting Tilapia Facts

26 Interesting Tilapia Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published April 9, 2019Updated September 4, 2019
  • On average, Americans eat over a pound of tilapia each year.[5]
  • Tilapia is the fourth most eaten fish in the United States, after tuna, salmon, and Alaskan pollock.[5]
  • Tilapia is predicted to remain popular as food because of its mild flavor, ease of preparation, and affordability.[9]
  • Because tilapia is primarily a farm-raised fish and is known for being easily genetically edited, it has been dubbed a "frankenfish."[5]
  • China is the largest producer of tilapia, manufacturing over 50% of the world's supply.[9]
  • Tilapia are ideal for farming because they reproduce quickly, eat pretty much anything, don't mind overcrowding, and can live in any type of water.[5]
  • Tilapia History
    This panel from the Tomb of Nakht contains a tilapia hieroglyph just above the head of the central figure
  • Tilapia has been farm-raised as far back as ancient Egyptian times, and it is set to become one of the most farmed seafood products in the 21st century.[5]
  • The term "tilapia"  refers to nearly a hundred species of fish. They come in a variety of colors, but the red and black species are the most popular as food.[9]
  • Even though two companies, AquaBounty and Intrexon, jointly developed a gene-edited line of tilapia, they are exempt from genetically modified regulation because the engineered tilapia was not developed using gene editing techniques and does not contain any foreign DNA.[3]
  • The word "tilapia" isn't the name of a single species of fish; it's a genus. There are about 100 different species of the fish. The word for the most common genus of Tilapia, cichlid, comes from the Latin derivative "thiape," which is the Tswana word for "fish."[1]
  • As long as tilapia are raised in high-quality fish farms, they are considered one of the best fish for pregnant and breastfeeding women because of their low mercury and contaminant content.[9]
  • Tilapia are painted on ancient Egyptian tomb walls and included in a spell in the Egyptian Book of the Dead to help the deceased take his or her place in the sun boat.[6]
  • Because it is easy to prepare and cook on a mass scale, tilapia has been nicknamed "aqua-chicken."[5]
  • Tilapia have often been represented as the aquatic chicken, and it's perfectly justified.

    - Daniel Pauly

  • There over 100 species of true tilapia as well as a number of hybrids.[9]
  • To ensure that a tilapia crop is male, some farmers use a hormone called methyltestosterone. Although the FDA claims the fish are safe, some buyers refuse to use the treated fish.[8]
  • Some sushi restaurants use tilapia as a substitute for red snapper because it is more mild and sweet.[1]
  • In tropical regions, tilapia are often placed in ponds to control algae, duckweeds, and other pond-dwelling plants.[1]
  • Biblical scholars believe that tilapia was the fish Jesus fed the crowds at the Sea of Galilee, hence its nickname, "St. Peter's Fish."[9]
  • Tilapia Trivia
    Tilapia is also known as St. Peter's Fish

  • Tilapia was a symbol of rebirth in Egyptian art. It was also said to join and protect the sun god on his journey across the sky.[6]
  • Contrary to a popular Internet myth that tilapia is a toxic, "boneless and skinless" fish, tilapia does, indeed, have bones and skin and has no more toxins than other type of fish.[4]
  • Globally, tilapia production increased about 25% from 2012 to 2015, especially in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, and Vietnam.[8]
  • Tilapia is on the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) list of the 100 Worst Alien Invasive Species.[10]
  • Since tilapia have such short lifespans, they are more likely to absorb dioxins or mercury than other kinds of fish, including salmon.[4]
  • In Brazil, scientists are testing tilapia skin as a way to treat burn injuries.[7]
  • Fish Skin
    Tilapia skin has also been used on animals that have been burned in forest fires (Caters)

  • The United States produces about 0.2% of global tilapia supplies.[8]
  • China is the largest tilapia producer in the world, followed by Egypt.[2]

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