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Blue Tilapia Species Profile, Care & Breeding Guide

Are you looking for a domestic kind of fish to care for in your home aquarium? Well, then Blue Tilapia would be the best choice for you. They are unique in appearance and come with a weighty personality.

Blue Tilapias have their origin in Africa and the Middle East countries. Though they are freshwater fish, they can also survive in brackish water.

These fish are territorial and need sufficient swimming space in the tank. They are best cared for in a broader tank in the form of a schooling group.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate
AppearanceBlue Tilapia comes with a bright red or pink margin on its caudal fin and a metallic blue-colored body.
TemperamentAggressive and territorial
Life Expectancy5+ years
Tank Size
Tank EnvironmentCold and freshwater tank with proper salinity
Tank MatesBottom feeders

Oreochromis aureus or Blue Tilapias have their origin in Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

They are chiefly found in tropical and subtropical parts of Africa and the Middle East. Do you know this fish is also known as the Tilapia Kashabi Elster in many parts of Africa?

However, these fish populations are not only limited to Western Africa and the Middle East, but also they are rapidly getting popular in South East Asia and America.

Oreochromis aureus usually lives in both freshwater and brackish environment. However, this fish mostly appears in marine waters.

Do you know what is the best part about Blue Tilapia? They can adapt to different types of habitats. Thus, they can reside in open water as well as a densely grown vegetation-filled environment.

Blue Tilapias are not only popular as freshwater fish, but they are also quite famous in the aquarium trade by the name Aureus Steindachner 1864.

You can easily find these fish in lakes, effluent ponds, streams, or impoundments. Besides, their colorful look makes it a favorite for all aquarists.

These Tilapia species usually come with a longer body. The caudal fin has a bright red or pink margin with a blue-hued body.

During breeding, the males have a bright metallic blue color on their heads, along with a vermilion hue on the margin of their dorsal fin and an intense pink coloration on the margin area of their caudal fin.

In the case of a females, you will notice a pale orange coloration on the borders of their dorsal and caudal fins when they’re ready for spawning.


The largest Tilapia measured to date was 18-inches in length. However, by facilitating a proper level of care in the home tank, they can grow up to a maximum length of 5-8 inches.


Usually, these are much hardy in nature. So, they tend to live for at least 5 years or even more subject to proper care.

Behavior & Temperament

Usually, Blue Tilapia fish are not much aggressive. Instead, they are quite peaceful. However, sometimes they can get territorial.

Also, one of the very popular habits of this species is that they like to roam around in the form of a school. Thus, they are better cared for when kept in a group.

Tank Requirements

While keeping this Tilapia fish in your tank, you need to ensure that you are meeting all their tank requirements.

Thus, from the right tank capacity to balanced water parameter, you have to be very particular about every minor factor while caring in your tank and facilitating their good health.

Since these mostly stay in freshwater bodies, it is essential to offer their natural habitat requirements in the tank for facilitating better care. In case you fail to provide them their native-like environment, Blue Tilapia will tend to become troublesome invasive species.

Well, do you know a fascinating fact about Blue Tilapia? The adults of this fish family possess a greater resistance to cold water temperature than cold water cichlids. Amazing, right!

However, juvenile specimens are not that much tolerant to cold water temperatures as adults. Hence, you need to set the temperature of the tank as per their age requirements. Otherwise, they will behave like problematic invasive species.

Also, they are not much demanding, which makes them great ones to care for in your tank. This Tilapia Aureu species usually call for very basic needs.

Perfectly clean and pristine water is the top requirement for any Tilapia species. So, while keeping Blue Tilapia in your tank, make sure to offer them a good filtration rate inside the tank.

An adequate oxygen level in the tank water is another demand they have. Also, keep the water surface well-oxygenated with a proper assortment of aquatic plants.

At the same time, Blue Tilapia fish need an adequate amount of swimming space in the tank. Thus while adding decorations to the tank, do not forget to leave some open spaces so that they can swim freely.

Also, for their better growth, it is crucial to add enough lighting to the tank. These usually prefers bright lighting. Thus, a high-intensity LED lamp for the tank will be pretty suitable for taking proper care of your Blue Tilapia.

Tank Setup

Before you house these in your tank, you need to maintain a proper tank setup. And for doing so, first, you need to choose the right tank for them and provide a suitable water condition, boosting their growth.

So, here is how you should set up the aquarium properly.

  • For the best care of an adult Blue Tilapia, you need to maintain the temperature of the water within a range of 8-30℃.
  • However, as already said, juvenile specimens cannot live in too cold water, like the adults. So, to keep them safe, you need to ensure that the tank temperature is about 20-22℃.
  • To facilitate proper water chemistry in the tank, maintain a salinity range of 29-45 ppt.

Blue Tilapia Tank Mates

Group of blue tilapia

Blue Tilapia fish are usually not so aggressive. However, since they have temperament issues like getting territorial, they can sometimes fight with other tank mates. So, you have to ensure that you are picking the suitable tank mate for these species.

Usually, it is better not to keep them within a community tank, as they can become the reason for stress for other fish.

But if you are still thinking of keeping them in a community tank, make sure that you are providing them with enough open free places for swimming to prevent them from turning into invasive species.

There are a few fish, which can survive well in a community tank with Blue Tilapia. Also, these can be kept with some bottom feeders. But you need to be consistent to monitor their behavior.

Besides, due to their sober temperament, Barbs are quite suitable tank mates. So, if you are thinking of keeping them with any suitable community fish in a community tank, simply go for various barbs.

Food & Diet

When it comes to the diet, they are usually known to be herbivores. However, they prefer a wide variety of diets for their better nutrition.

Young Blue Tilapias like to have plenty of copepods and cladocerans in their diet. Also, they readily accept foods like small invertebrates.

The adults quickly eat foods like phytoplankton and green algae, which offers them wholesome nutrition.

Also, you can offer them zooplankton to add some variety to their diet. These usually love to have some occasional treats with small food fish.

Do you know O aureus has an interesting attribute? They can adapt to a large variety of diets. They possess a unique quality to adapt their diet as per the suitability of their surrounding environment.

Care Guide

If you are thinking of keeping these fish in your tank, you need to ensure that you are offering them a proper level of care.

Blue Tilapia are hardy enough and much resilient to a large variety of water parameters. However, you must still ensure that you maintain a much more stable water condition to offer them the best care.

To keep them safe and healthy, it is vital to perform 20-25% weekly water change. Also, Blue Tilapia are much susceptible to some common fish diseases.

Usually, this species get immensely affected by the most common disease known as Flexibacter columnaris, a bacterial infection.

Well, many parasites are responsible for causing life-threatening diseases in Blue Tilapias. They are Epistylis Coliseum, Apisoma Piscicolum, Gyrodactylus Chilidsatus, Cichlidogyrus Tilapiae, and Neobenedenia Melleni.

Thus, after introducing a them to the tank, do not ignore any sign of their illnesses; otherwise, it can turn into a massive outbreak of diseases.

Breeding Guidelines

Blue tilapia juveniles

Similar to the African Cichlids, Oreochromis aureus fish are also quite popular as a maternal mouthbrooder. They have a unique breeding mechanism.

However, to take proper care of this fish species of the Tilapia family during the breeding season, you need to ensure that you are setting up a dedicated tank for them.

You must maintain the tank temperature range at 20-22℃ or 68-72 ℉ to initiate proper breeding of these fish. Besides, this fish can easily reproduce in both fresh and brackish water conditions. So, make sure you facilitate the right water conditions in the breeding aquarium.

In the very beginning, the male builds a nest to construct their territory. And after that, they tend to allure the females to spawning. So, when the adult females are ready for breeding,

they release eggs in the spawning areas made by the male specimens. As soon as the eggs are laid, the male specimen moves into the nest and fertilizes those eggs.

After fertilization, the females return to the nest and pick up the eggs in their mouths. And then, she will swim into the deep water. Females brood the eggs in their mouths until they form larvae.

The fry hatches in the mother fish’s mouth and will be released into the aquarium water only when they are large enough to swim.

At this time, you must offer them the proper nutrition. So, you can easily feed these fries with food fish items like crushed flakes or baby brine shrimp, which provides them with a protein-rich diet.

Interesting Facts

Are you now keener to purchasing Blue Tilapia fish for your home aquarium? If yes, then you need to know a few more interesting facts about them.

Check out below to discover some intriguing details about this Tilapia fish.

  • When these are introduced to non-native waters, they can become a problematic invasive species. Unlike other tropical fish species, they are much more cold-resistant and can also survive in warmer temperatures, and this trait makes them more prominent as invasive species.
  • When an adult female reaches sexual maturity, it tends to be about 10cm long. However, there are also reports of smaller females having round ovaries to attain sexual maturity.
  • This fish is widely popular in the aquarium fish culture market by the name aureus steindachner 1864.
  • When it comes to breeding, they require a very low temperature.
  • These fish do not contain enough amount of omega-3 fatty acids and are mainly meant for tanks. This is why you should never eat Blue Tilapia.

Where to Buy?

Though these are quite a bit rare than other popular Tilapia species, you can still easily find them in any of your nearby aquarist shops.

Besides, these fish are quite moderately priced. So, even if you don’t find them in a pet and fish store, you can look for them in a hobbyist shop or an online store.

If you face difficulty finding them on online stores with their common name, search with their trade name, i.e., aureus steindachner 1864.


Blue Tilapia is pretty suitable for petting in a home aquarium. However, these are not much recommended for aquarists with beginner-level experience.

Instead, a hobbyist having an intermediate level of fish-keeping experience would be apt to pet Tilapia Aureu of the Cichlidae family at home.

These fish look too attractive with their vibrant body and bright-edged dorsal and caudal fins.

Though there are some difficulties in carrying these fish in a community tank, you can easily house them in a species-specific aquarium in a group to avoid aggression.

Also, make sure you are offering them all their required needs to keep them happy and playful in your tank.