The Tilapia Are Breeding

Happy 1st Day of Spring!  It’s finally here.

Of the 23 White Nile Tilapia in our 55-gallon aquarium, only one of them has been digging nests in the gravel.  He began on the right side of the tank, and then abandoned that nest to dig another one near the filter intake pipe on the other side of the tank.  A day or so later, he abandoned that nest and returned to the other location to dig, and then finally reclaimed the nest by the filter.  I’m not sure what inspired him to move back and forth, but he and his mate definitely chose their honeymoon suite this time, because they have finally decided to start a family.

After an early evening feeding, I noticed that a female Tilapia began releasing her eggs on the bottom of the nest as the male watched very closely.  When she was finished, the male swam slightly above the eggs to fertilize them.  The female circled back and picked them up with her mouth.  Then they repeated this process many times.

In this first photo, the male is watching the eggs as the female releases them on the bottom of the nest.  Notice that the female (on the right) is whiter and larger than the male (on the left).

After she releases some eggs, she swims in a circle so the male can swim over and fertilize them.

Then she returns to pick up the eggs with her mouth.

Every once in a while, they examined the bottom of the nest together.

Eventually, another Tilapia decided to investigate.

And then the visitor began scooping up eggs.  I’m not sure if it was a female who wanted to incubate the eggs in her mouth, or if she was hungry.

Surprisingly enough, the breeding pair did not try to chase away the visitor.  This was quite unexpected, since the male had been attacking every fish that got in his half of the tank.

An hour or so after our lovebirds swam from their nest I tried to find the female so I could take a picture of the eggs in her mouth, but I couldn’t find her.  I decided to give all of them some food and then I would be able to find her easily, since she would be the only one that was not eating.

They all ate.

Unfortunately, it appears that she must have swallowed her eggs.  I have heard that this is not unusual after the first spawning.  They were very young, probably too young, so this will give them a chance to mature a little more before trying again.

Here are the latest photos of the Tilapia at about 14 weeks of age:



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16 Responses to The Tilapia Are Breeding

  1. babso2you says:

    This is soooo cool! I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  2. This is very exciting! I love tilapia! I cannot wait to see how this all turns out…are you selling to restaurants or the farmers market or just sustaining your family? I have not gone back and read your whole blog yet but its on my to do list! Thanks for such great pics and a great post!

  3. I also had no idea this was how tilapia fertilize their eggs… a science lesson for me too…BONUS!

  4. Sen says:

    Great work on the aquaponics! Wish my building skills were as tidy. I’ll keep watching with great interest.

  5. I’m fascinated by aquaponics but not yet brave enough to give it a go. I wish I had started a couple of years ago, that would mean I’d have an established system. It’s getting started that’s daunting. Aquaponics looks like such a great idea – maybe I’ll jump in soon. In the interim I’ll try to keep my new chickens happy and boost my veggie production. Chicken poo may not be quite as good as fish poo, but it should help.

  6. fishtanx2011 says:

    I hope the White Tilapia taste as good as they look!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Love the pics!! I’m just getting into aquaponics and look forward to reading back through your blog for tips and information to help me get going! 🙂

  8. stacy says:

    Wow! This is very interesting.

  9. kcwritermom says:

    My goodness, I never knew you could actually raise Tilapia! This is such an interesting blog – I can’t wait to read more!!

  10. mossandivy says:

    I love your blog and this cool adventure that you guys are on. It is so sad about your husband’s pain. Has he looked into alternative methods?
    I will look forward to reading each new post. It is all so exciting!

    • Yes, he has tried many alternative treatments and therapies, but nothing seems to help. It’s a terrible condition that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Fortunately, this aquaponics system is really distracting him from his pain.

      Thank you for sharing The Louvre on your blog. What a beautiful garden!

      • mossandivy says:

        that is so terrible. I have suffered from pain in the past for long periods of time, but nothing as bad as his. I remember the sadness and depression that I experienced with it.
        I always thought that if it happened again that I could turn to mmj. Apparently that is not the case.
        I so hope and pray that he finds a cure for this. You guys seem so wonderful.

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