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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Flip Side of Tilapia

A debate over the merits and drawbacks of tilapia aquaculture has raged in Nicaragua since the 1990s. With the so-called Blue Revolution, the world would feed itself and develop commercial crops through backyard ponds. That vision has transformed into a modern, international trade in tilapia, with aquaculture practices varying from country to country. Tilapia offers unique opportunities and threats to biodiversity and to food security. In the tropics, in particular, bad aquatic cultivation techniques which contaminate natural waters are used, leaving behind destruction in its wake. Furthermore, the nutritional benefits of tilapia have been found to be far poorer than wild-caught fish.

Our research group at FUNDECI/GAIA has worked on this topic for several years, particularly given the recent introduction of tilapia into Lake Apoyo. We have participated in field research and in one review of the literature regarding the environmental impacts of tilapia aquaculture. The issue is particularly important throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, all countries with commercial tilapia production facilities oriented toward export to the US fish markets.

We will be re-posting several of the scientific and journalistic contributions to this argument in the near future. For now, we present the most recent contribution to the discussion, from Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times. Her contribution to the controversial issue includes interviews with our staff member Jeffrey McCrary and reference to research performed by FUNDECI/GAIA.

May 2, 2011

Another Side of Tilapia, the Perfect Factory Fish

AGUA AZUL, Honduras — A common Bible story says Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, which scholars surmise were tilapia.
But at the Aquafinca fish farm here, a modern miracle takes place daily: Tens of thousands of beefy, flapping tilapia are hauled out of teeming cages on Lake Yojoa, converted to fillets in a cold slaughterhouse and rushed onto planes bound for the United States, where some will appear on plates within 12 hours.
Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia last year, four times the amount a decade ago, making this once obscure African native the most popular farmed fish in the United States. Although wild fish predominate in most species, a vast majority of the tilapia consumed in the United States is “harvested” from pens or cages in Latin America and Asia.
Known in the food business as “aquatic chicken” because it breeds easily and tastes bland, tilapia is the perfect factory fish; it happily eats pellets made largely of corn and soy and gains weight rapidly, easily converting a diet that resembles cheap chicken feed into low-cost seafood.
“Ten years ago no one had heard of it; now everyone wants it because it doesn’t have a fishy taste, especially hospitals and schools,” said Orlando Delgado, general manager of Aquafinca.
Farmed tilapia is promoted as good for your health and for the environment at a time when many marine stocks have been seriously depleted. “Did you know the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week?” asks the industry Web site, But tilapia has both nutritional and environmental drawbacks.
Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are the main reasons doctors recommend eating fish frequently; salmon has more than 10 times the amount of tilapia. Also, farmed tilapia contains a less healthful mix of fatty acids because the fish are fed corn and soy instead of lake plants and algae, the diet of wild tilapia.
“It may look like fish and taste like fish but does not have the benefits — it may be detrimental,” said Dr. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who specializes in fish lipids.
Environmentalists argue that intensive and unregulated tilapia farming is damaging ecosystems in poor countries with practices generally prohibited in the United States — like breeding huge numbers of fish in cages in natural lakes, where fish waste pollutes the water. “We wouldn’t allow tilapia to be farmed in the United States the way they are farmed here, so why are we willing to eat them?” said Dr. Jeffrey McCrary, an American fish biologist who works in Nicaragua. “We are exporting the environmental damage caused by our appetites.”
Defenders of tilapia aquaculture point out that this young and rapidly growing industry has begun improving standards and toughening regulation. The two-year-old Aquaculture Stewardship Council, the brainchild of the conservation organization WWF and I.D.H., a Dutch sustainable trade program, is rolling out an inspection program for tilapia farms independent of the industry. Those that choose to participate — and pass — will receive labels identifying their product as “responsibly farmed.”
In a nod to its growing popularity, this year tilapia’s will be the first of 10 fish certification programs to be initiated. Aquafinca, which began adopting more environmentally friendly cultivation in 2006 to better appeal to large corporate customers like Costco, this year became the first farm to pass an initial inspection.
Proponents say tilapia aquaculture will only grow in importance because it provides food and jobs in a world of declining fish stocks and rising population. “There are going to be more farmed fish each year,” said Kevin Fitzsimmons, a biologist at the University of Arizona. “Think about it: if we tried to get beef from hunting, there would be a lot of hungry people.”
From Africa to the World
Native to lakes in Africa, this versatile warm-water fish was deployed by many governments in poor tropical countries around the world in the second half of the 20th century to control weeds and mosquitoes in lakes and rivers. In a cistern or pond, a few fish yielded dietary protein.
In retrospect, that global dispersal “maybe was not the best idea,” said Aaron McNevin, a WWF biologist who is coordinating the development of standards for tilapia farms, because tilapia “is one of the most invasive species known and very hard to get rid of once they are established.” Today, wild tilapia has squeezed out native species in lakes throughout the world with its aggressive breeding and feeding.
By the 1990s, businesses saw opportunity in farming this hearty species, which tolerates crowding and does not need expensive meat-based feed. Using selective breeding, scientists created today’s industrial strains: big, fleshy fish with tiny heads and tails, and intestines that allow them to absorb food faster. Farmed tilapia reaches its sales weight of about two pounds in roughly nine months of intensive feeding.
“Nature is for maintaining species; what we do is make fillets,” said Danilo Sosa, a technician at the tilapia breeding pens of Nicanor Fish Farms, outside Managua, Nicaragua, plopping a tilapia used for breeding on a wooden table and scanning the chip in its gut that identifies its breeding line.
Last year, more than 52 million pounds of fresh tilapia were exported to the United States, mostly from Latin America, as well as 422 million more pounds of frozen tilapia, both whole and fillet, nearly all from China, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The growth has been abetted by the creation and marketing of new products like fleshy “tilapia loins” — even though fish do not possess that anatomical feature.
For United States shoppers picking up tilapia from China or Honduras or Ecuador, there is little guidance. “It’s such a complicated job for consumers to decide what to eat, with aquaculture production expanding so rapidly,” said Peter Bridson, aquaculture research manager of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which produces the popular Seafood Watch, an independent consumer guide to buying sustainable fish.
The new sustainability standards being developed for aquaculture will be tailored by species to address their diverse environmental risks. For tilapia, that means fish cages can be placed only in lakes where tilapia already live, and must be designed to prevent escapes. To limit overtaxing of lakes, the new guidelines establish water quality rules for oxygen and phosphorus, a product of fish waste.
Fish farms may not use prophylactic antibiotics. But even the new rules allow for some practices considered unacceptable in the United States, where cage farming in lakes is generally forbidden. In many states, tilapia must be housed in specially designed pens with roofs to prevent birds from carrying the fish elsewhere; their waste is often collected to use as fertilizer rather than released. Also, the new standards allow for baby fish to be fed testosterone even though markets like Whole Foods will not buy hormone-treated seafood.
For the moment, Seafood Watch lists tilapia raised in the United States as a “best choice,” tilapia from Latin America as a “good alternative” and tilapia from China as “to be avoided.” Less than 5 percent of the tilapia consumed in the United States is farmed within its borders, and that is mostly whole fish. Dr. Bridson said these rough ratings were largely based on the presence of effective monitoring in those places and how farms disposed of their waste.
The Pollution Problem
But many biologists worry that the big business of tilapia farming will outweigh caution, leaving dead lakes and extinct species.
Dr. McCrary has spent the past decade studying how a small, short-lived tilapia farm degraded Lake Apoyo in Nicaragua. “One small cage screwed up the entire lake — the entire lake!” he said of the farm, which existed from 1995 to 2000.
Waste from the cages polluted the pristine ecosystem, and some tilapia escaped. An aquatic plant called charra, an important food for fish, disappeared, leaving the lake a wasteland. Today, some species of plants and fish are slowly recovering, but others are probably gone forever, said Dr. McCrary, who works for the Nicaraguan foundation FUNDECI.
That experience explains why Dr. Salvador Montenegro, director of Nicaragua’s Center for Aquatic Resource Investigation, has spent a decade fighting to close the much larger Nicanor tilapia farm in a remote corner of Lake Nicaragua. “This kind of intensive fish farming jeopardizes a lake that is a national treasure, already under stress from pollution,” he said, once comparing its effect to allowing 3.7 million chickens to defecate in the water. Weaker fish, like the rainbow bass, have been disappearing from Lake Nicaragua as the number of tilapia has increased, said Ben Slow, a local fisherman.
But David Senna, the manager of Nicanor, said the company’s cages occupied only a tiny fraction of the lake, in an area with deep water and strong currents sufficient to carry away fish waste; it has taken monthly water samples to prove it. While he acknowledged that early on there were some escapes — one involving 10,000 tilapia — he noted that tilapia were introduced to Lake Nicaragua in the 1980s, “so if they’re going to take over, it was already doomed.”
Nutritional Concerns
For doctors, the debate has centered more on tilapia’s nutritional benefits, or lack thereof. Like all fish, tilapia is a good source of protein, with few of the unhealthy saturated fats in red meats. But unlike most other fish, tilapia contains relatively little of the fish oils that medical research has shown assist brain development and protect against heart disease, stroke and abnormal heart rhythms: a pair of omega-3 fatty acids.
“When people talk about the need to eat more fish, they are using that as a metaphor for fish oil, DHA and EPA,” said Edgar R. Miller III, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “So what do we do about the fact that tilapia and catfish, which are farm raised, have very low levels of these compounds?”
While a portion of tilapia has 135 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, a portion of salmon has over 2,000 milligrams. And farmed tilapia may have even less than wild tilapia because fish acquire omega-3s by eating aquatic plants and other fish. “They are what they eat,” Dr. Bridson said.
In farmed tilapia, raised largely on corn and soy, omega-3 levels depend on how much fish meal or fish oil the farm’s breeders mix in. While most fish species need a good helping of these fatty acids to grow, herbivorous tilapia grow decently with little or none. And there are compelling reasons to skimp on fish meal or oil additives: they are costly and create more pollution.
“The content can vary dramatically and the consumer won’t know it,” said Bruce Holub, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, who said that omega-3 levels should appear on every fish label.
He and other experts echo the industry’s message that tilapia is nonetheless beneficial to eat as a lean source of protein and one that still contains some omega-3, where protein alternatives like red meat and chicken have none. But others are concerned about research showing that another type of fatty acids, the so-called omega-6 acids, outnumber the beneficial omega-3s in farmed tilapia by a factor of 2 to 1. Some research suggests that ratio increases the risk of heart disease; in salmon and trout the ratio is reversed.
With this in mind, the Mayo Clinic advises patients that some typically farmed fish, like tilapia and catfish, “don’t appear to be as heart-healthy.” More research will be needed to see whether improving fish feeds enhances tilapia’s health benefits, and whether the omega-6 levels in tilapia are significant relative to its already high prevalence in the American diet.
The Choice
Although environmentalists long battled to shut down Nicanor, the Nicaraguan fish farm is failing for another reason: cheap frozen tilapia fillets from China.
Imports of frozen tilapia to the United States rose 30 percent in 2010, as fresh fillet imports dropped 2 percent, reducing demand from smaller producers like Nicanor. Much of the fish that China exports is what producers call “refreshed,” which means it is frozen and packed in carbon monoxide to preserve color so it can be thawed and sold in fish displays, where it will appear to have been recently caught. Even in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, the tilapia on supermarket shelves is from China.
“People wanted to pay $3.99 a pound for this frozen stuff rather than $5.99 for fresh, especially during the recession,” said Mr. Senna, the Nicanor manager. Chinese fish farms are regarded as poorly regulated, Dr. Bridson said, which is why the world needs clearer standards for sustainable fish farming and consumer labeling. Until then, the biggest producer offering the cheapest product is poised to win.
“If I have 100 tilapia in a pond, I may have happy tilapia because they have room to swim, but I won’t be able to sell them since I won’t get access to the global market,” Dr. McCrary said, adding that, for now, “there’s no tilapia equivalent of free-range chicken.”

Blake Schmidt contributed reporting from Managua, Nicaragua.

82 Readers' Comments

1. Erika
May 2nd, 2011
10:55 am
It's completely disgusting and it's a nasty business and it's not a response to feeding a hungry world, it's a corporate response to human appetite with no regard to serious consequences that radiate from farming these fish, and there's little nutritional value. And of course the corporate methods of fattening pigs, cattle and chickens rapidly for slaughter in infanthood is the same with these fish. Feed 'em corn.
2. Pilgrim
May 2nd, 2011
10:55 am
I hope no consumers in the US who are thinking about feeding this to their families, or buyers who are thinking about feeding it to other people's families, believe that regulations will affect how food is produced in China. The rigging of "organic" inspection process and other practices have made it amply clear that it's best to just steer clear of Chinese produced food until practices change.
Ridgefield, CT
May 2nd, 2011
11:05 am
"If we tried to get beef from hunting, there would be a lot of hungry people.”

Nope. There are other things to eat. It takes 16 lbs. of feed to produce 1 lb. of beef. That's hardly an efficient way to produce food. Our factory farming systems deliver cheap meat at great environmental and health costs—to say nothing of the misery wrought upon the animals. We have to change our "carnocentric" view of eating.

4. han
toronto, canada
May 2nd, 2011
11:15 am
I used to work in a hotel in Bermuda. we used Tilapia for staff meal almost everyday imported from Vietnam. I got really tired of cooking same fish everyday let alone my falks gotten tired of eating it everyday. Then I came to Canada where I live now. And I found sushi restaurants using it instead of Sea Bream/Red Snapper which is what Aunt Jemima syrup is to maple syrup from Vermont/Quebec. And I think it's ubiquitous in all over North America now. Of course this excluding few that charges top dollers.

5. ns1337
New York, NY
May 2nd, 2011
11:22 am
I just hope it doesn't drive the price of real fish higher. I would hate to be forced to eat this Koi Carp looking "chicken of the sea".
6. LJG
May 2nd, 2011
11:23 am
Tilapia cooks well, especially when breaded and fried, but the taste is so bland. I would never cook this fish for guests.
7. RC
May 2nd, 2011
11:36 am
Since the oceans are already contaminated with plastics and other toxic organic compounds, lake-farmed fish may provide potential health advantages.
8. Nick
May 2nd, 2011
11:37 am
There are many rural Africans who have small Tilapia pools on their plots of land. The fish grow quickly and have the added benefit of reducing malaria as the fish consume vast quantities of mosquito larva. And they taste good!
9. Bernice German
Boulder, CO
May 2nd, 2011
12:30 pm
What are the effects of farmed tilapia eating genetically modified corn? The article said that the diet of the tilapia is corn and soy, and most corn is now genetically modified. Studies have shown that mice and other animals will not eat GMO's if there is any alternative. These tilapia may or may not have an alternative. So I am concerned about effects of the GMO's on the fish. I know the industry mantra is that there are no effects, but I am among the many who believe otherwise.
10. HIGHLIGHT (what's this?)
branford, ct
May 2nd, 2011
12:35 pm
It'a simply impossible to figure out what to eat any more, within reason economically. Pesticides are a worry with fresh fruits and veggies; processed foods are a major no-no; carbs will kill you; meat and poultry are pumped full of antibiotics... Oh, sure I can buy Irish salmon at my local fish market -- for $24.95 a pound.
I saw tilapia as a reasonably priced choice. Now, forget that.
11. Waisingrin
Shanghai, China
May 2nd, 2011
12:40 pm
I'd warn everyone to steer clear of Chinese seafood of any kind. I have gotten hospital sick many times after eating fish or shrimp when I first got here. Then I started to see the correlation. I have now a hard rule, regardless whether its at the Hyatt or at a local restaurant - No Seafood. Here is why:

They raise fish in artificial ponds mostly. They feed the fish chicken waste by dumping stuff they scrape from chicken farms into the ponds. They then dump high levels of antibiotics into the pond to keep the fish from dying in that sewage. The fish are harvested and sold. Sure, it is cheaper, basically recycled chicken waste. Knowing what you now know, you'd be pretty stupid to eat this or feed it to your family. I have no idea what will happen if these idiots use up all of our last remaining antibiotics this way and we have no more drugs to fight regular infections. They know nothing, care about nothing. Just short term "making money" is their culture.
12. angryworkerbee
May 2nd, 2011
12:40 pm
Honestly scientists, can't I have anything?

St Louis
May 2nd, 2011
12:41 pm
Wild seafood contains high level of omega-3 fatty acids primarily because their diet is high in things that are able to synthesize these fatty acids, namely phytoplankton. If fed a diet primarily of corn or soy, surprise surprise, the fish contains lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids, hence farmed fish have never been a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. So it makes sense that the fish that have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are those that feed on phytoplankton directly, fish like sardines and young herring and those fish that feed on other fish, like tuna and cod, will have lower levels of omega-3. Crucially, both herring and sardine populations are currently sustainably fished. Here's the kicker, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are particularly prone to oxidation and oxidized omega-3 fatty acids smell, well, fishy. Hence fish that is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are also going to have the fishiest smell. In the Netherlands where they eat herring raw the age of the herring can usually be determined by how fishy the flavor, with the youngest freshest herring having a very delicate flavor compared to older fish.

14. jp
May 2nd, 2011
12:41 pm
They've been bred to have small heads and efficient guts. Maybe they can be further bred to walk on land so they won't be such a detriment to water life. Imagine a Tyson facility where chickens mingle peacefully with tilapia.

15. esoterica81
Santa Monica, CA
May 2nd, 2011
1:02 pm
After reading this entire article, I am frustrated by the article for not addressing a key question: are the tilapia raised by Aquafinca real or were they genetically modified? Heavens - where on earth would you find a FISH that eats CORN and SOY?

16. RC
Pompano Beach FL
May 2nd, 2011
1:03 pm
We will continue to see the proliferation of fish-farms. They not only will proliferate for the age old quest by business for profits (people will always have to pay to eat)… but they will also proliferate out of dire necessity. The oceans are becoming deserts, with species consistently being depleted to the point of extinction, by a virus-like species that continues to populate like indiscriminate rodents.

Bi-pedal rodents.

Farmed fish are kept in concentrations never seen in the wild, with each fish occupying less room than the average bathtub. This causes several forms of pollution and facilitates the spread of disease. Packed tightly, fish rub against each other and the sides of their cages, damaging their fins and tails and becoming sickened with various diseases and infections.

Then… there are the plethora of pathogens and parasites. And the pollution it always generates, in which the fish live... and then we in turn eat.

And some of the places in the world where it’s farmed simply aren’t trustworthy. They know that the market that it’s being delivered to is often half of the world away, and legal recourse for “issues” would be tenuous at best, and difficult to pursue. The worse that might happen is lower demand… which is doubtful.

All of this requires the use of various chemicals and antibiotics to battle the diseases, and/or battling to prevent them. These inherent bacteriological and contamination issues that invariably arise in a “farm” setting, result the use of antibiotics, which it is believed then concentrate in humans, resulting in said humans becoming antibiotic resistant. Not to mention the inevitable leaching of said chemicals and antibiotics into the environment. A revolving circle of GMOs corn feed, “cides”, cleansing chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.

Tilapia are fed a corn based grain diet which is considered, by some, to be part of the reason for its being a marketable fish to avoid eating. Monsanto and friends don’t like it when their GMO corn products are highlighted in a comment such as this, and it being pointed out that they monopolize the market. If I suddenly fall off of a mountain ridge to my death, hopefully someone will remember that there are no mountains in FL.

The above info is the tip of the berg. It gets worse, as you dig deeper into it.

Overpopulation is the driving force. The people on this planet have to reduce their numbers… period.

Knowledge is power, but it can be depressing. The more you learn about the realities, the more you realize that there won’t be any forthcoming solutions.

Not eating isn't an option.

Perhaps natural, or man-made disasters that result in a monumental thinning out of the herd, will solve the problem.

17. Sylvia
Boulder, CO
May 2nd, 2011
1:10 pm
I think this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Wild fish just aren't going to be an option for much longer so I think that if we want to continue to have fish as part of our human diet that we need to continue to improve ways to make aquaculture more sustainable and more nutritious. The primary ecological concerns around tilapia farming as outlined in this article were centered on farming the fish using pens in lakes. We can get around this by farming them in tanks using recirculating aquaculture techniques. In fact, recirculating aquaculture facilities can be set up anywhere, including in old abandoned buildings in city centers where the harvest can be closer to the end customer. The other environmental issue is about disposal of the fish waste. As a passionate aquaponic gardener who uses fish waste as the primary plant fertilizer throughout my greenhouse this concept absolutely baffles me! Fish waste, when run through a properly set up aquaponics system, is a nearly perfect, complete plant food. Why would there ever be a waste disposal problem - just grow plants with it!

As far as the nutritional aspects of tilapia I firmly believe that as soon as consumers start demanding better farm raised fish feed by better feed that the feed will be improved. Right now we are just complacently buying tilapia from China and assuming it is healthy for us. We need to speak out for organic fish feed with sustainably farmed fish meal (or a fish meal substitute that is high in Omega 3) and no GMO corn and soy!

Tilapia isn't a bad fish! It is easy to grow and tastes great when properly raised and harvested. What is bad are the current practices surrounding the raising of tilapia. There are solutions available now to solve these problem, however. We just need to demand that they be used!

18. Warren
May 2nd, 2011
1:10 pm
It is amazing how marketing trumps science when comes to our food choices. This story is a testament to how the average American is spoken to regarding what they should and should not be buying. While Tilapia may be better than beef, most people will assume that they will be getting the health benefits afforded by fish, while in truth, they will receive very little. We need a system of dietary education that will help people make the proper dietary choices instead of relying on broad assumptions and marketing. For those who aren't aware of the significance of Omega-3 fatty acids in one's diet, the Omega-3 FAQ sums up the data rather well at

19. Irinel Petrescu
May 2nd, 2011
1:10 pm
Thanks for the story of tilapia. I appreciate well-researched reports.

Human overpopulation is the root cause of all these problems: how to feed soon to be 9 billion humans without destroying the planet. More on this topic can be found on the Times' Dot Earth blog.

Infinite steep growth rates, both in human numbers and growth on how much we consume .. well it's a path to disaster.

As to consumer choice, somewhere we forgot to value quality and chose quantity. Judging by the bulging waistlines, it would be far healthier to spend more on local food (grown in known, regulated conditions) and eat less.

Perhaps we need to require that we consumers have journalists photograph and investigate the source of all of our food. That alone would exclude the incredible stupidity of buying food from China. The only foods we should buy from China are local Chinese specialties. They should be luxury items here, consumed rarely.
Irvine, ca
May 2nd, 2011
1:15 pm
It is purely market driven. Poor people eats lower grade food of all kind. Only the well-to-do can afford to pick and choose what they want to eat. Sometimes even the poor people outlives the rich. Should we worry about the quality of fish?

21. CH
May 2nd, 2011
1:20 pm
I recently discovered talapia and like it. But of course it's never that simple. As a consumer I guess I can't expect a well-priced piece of fish to actually provide nutrition without polluting the enviornment and creating other risks. Talapia being a source of lean protein is a good thing and Omega 3s can be gotten from other sources, but the farming methods and risks and the profit motives are sickening.

22. RL Nelson
May 2nd, 2011
1:35 pm
Tilapia can be farmed sustainably in aquaponics, which is the combination of recirculating aquaculture (fish farming)and hydroponics (soilless plant culture). Essentially, in aquaponics the fish waste is broken down by microbes into usable nutrients for the plants. In absorbing the nutrients, the plants help to clean the water for the fish. For every pound of fish raised, you also get roughly 10 lbs. of vegetbales...all from one input of feed, one infrastructure and one effort. This is efficiancy at its best. Aquaponics is a growing industry because it provides high quality protein and vegetables without the use of fertilizer, pesticides or hericides. You can learn more about aquaponics at
Recommended by 13 Readers
23. bob b
May 2nd, 2011
1:36 pm
Talapia, the seafood equivalent of the schmoo. Eventually they will breed them so they can grow
large mushroom flavored tumors. mmmmm, an added bonus because there are no bones in a tumor. BTW, I believe they pack them in carbon DI oxide (dry ice)
Austin, TX
May 2nd, 2011
1:36 pm
Tilapia is the Domino's Pizza of fish. Thanks for this report, now I feel better about opting for other types of fish even tho tilapia is usually the cheapest option at the grocery store.

25. Arnie S. Hattzler
May 2nd, 2011
1:37 pm
The physicians show antipathy to supplements. Instead of saying don't eat this fish, they could say, eat this fish and take an Omega-3 supplement.

26. Ochsucker
Times Square
May 2nd, 2011
1:40 pm
I hope that advances in genetic improvements to these and other fish continue to expand locally available affordable nutrition choices for americans are being water-boarded by Obamanomics.

27. JaneM
Central Massachusetts
May 2nd, 2011
1:45 pm
Farm-raised tilapia will only contribute to the obesity epidemic by providing corn and soy-based proteins, the same as our commercial beef, chicken and pork. Along with high fructose corn syrup, Americans are getting too much corn and soy, and it is making us fat - just like the animals they feed it to. We cannot work this off by mere exercise, we must improve our diet. A good start would be to cut all subsidies to corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, etc. In addition, we should be banning all GMO products.

May 2nd, 2011
2:18 pm
With the Pacific fisheries likely to lost to Japanese radiation contamination lake based fish farms will be critical.

29. SK
Boston, MA
May 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm
I love fish, but have lately thought the tilapia I buy tastes worse and worse. Now I know why. The last time I bought it, it actually tasted like dirt. Good riddance.
Long Island
May 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm
I have seen tilapia farms. I have collected tilapia as a widespread invasive species from the waters of Mexico. I have also collected the fish in Mexican caves 300 feet below the surface. These experiences made me resolve to die from old age without ever eating them. Your article hardens my resolve. Thank you.

31. JoeM
May 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm
A mushy, tasteless, and generally boring piece of fish.
I am vigilant for ANY foodstuff from China. I refuse to buy/eat their food exports, whether they call it "organic" or not.

32. Emmy
New England
May 2nd, 2011
2:30 pm
The only good thing about fishing was that the animals were able to live their natural lives until they were caught, and now even that's gone. I've had tilapia (never again, after reading this) and it's nothing special. Why pollute whole ecosystems for this? I've cut down on fish consumption because of the effects of trawling and boat pollution, but I still eat wild-caught salmon once in a while. There is no good reason to eat fish who are kept in awful pens and fill waterways with bacteria. None.
New York, NY
May 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm
This is the fish used in several sustainable agriculture projects, most famously the Growing Power urban farm in Milwaukee

As usual, there is a right way to raise this fish, in closed indoor ponds with the waste recycled into fertilizer. As usual the industry doesn't chose to do it this way...

34. Aquapon
May 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm
Emmy, the reason to eat fish that are kept in pens, or recirculating aquaculture tanks, is to take the pressure off the fish that we are pulling from the oceans! If we use techniques like aquaponics to raise fish and plants together in a sustainable fashion we can start to enjoy fish without guilt again. Please go to to learn more about ways to do this.

35. ORL
San Diego, California
May 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm
I don't eat much fish of any kind due to pollution and overfishing. Think about it: everything dumped down household drains ends up in rivers and oceans. Every pesticide used on crops. Industrial waste, etc.

I bought tilapia recently. It was fresh but tasted sewage or pond water. I wondered what kind of stagnant water this fish was living in. Have had the same experience with other farmed fish like catfish.
San Francisco
May 2nd, 2011
2:48 pm
Why do these fish look light colored in the picture? I have caught wild Tilapia and had eaten the farm raised version, a lot. It is black/gray. Also this fish has a nutty flavor and not totally bland as the article suggests.

37. R
May 2nd, 2011
2:48 pm
I knew a popular bistro on the Upper East Side that sold Talapia as Black Bass for years. Not Sure if anyone caught on!

38. The Bobs
La Conner,WA
May 2nd, 2011
2:49 pm
to sallyb of branford, ct

I understand your frustration. I'd say just do the best you can, by eating organic fruits and veggies when you can and look for animal growers that use the best practices. The produce can often be as reasonable as commercial fair but you will pay more for better raised animal products. Yet you not only will be helping your family, you will be helping support awareness and interest in more traditional or healthier ways to grow our foods.

Now if we could just figure out how to reduce the human population to a sustainable number, we would really be on the road to fixing our food dilemma.

39. Bimmer
New Haven, CT
May 2nd, 2011
2:50 pm
I figured out some years ago that farmed tilapia was affecting my health - I had been "floxed" some years earlier (an adverse reaction to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which is a whole other issue), and as a result, the antibiotics used in tilapia would cause a flare-up of my floxing symptoms.

Second, I just want to respond to posts the like of #3, the "16 lbs of feed for 1 lb of meat" argument. The issue is, humans are biologically evolved to be omnivores - meanwhile, a lot of the "feed" you refer to (corn, wheat, alfala for example) are things humans are actually NOT evolved to eat, especially in immense quantity. Grains are a product of civilization - we've only been able to eat them since the dawn of civilization some 10,000 years ago - not a long time in terms of evolution.

Therefore, #19 is correct - human overpopulation is the root cause of many of the dietary issues experienced around the world. We can only grow enough protein by using unnatural grain diets for that protein, and indeed, many humans in the poorer countries of the world are forced to consume far more grains (at the expense of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat) than they should.

In my mind, it makes more sense to control our population growth and allow humans to consume the diet we biologically are meant to, rather than switching to grain-heavy vegetarian diets to allow countless more billions to inhabit the planet.

40. MP
May 2nd, 2011
2:50 pm
Dr. Jeffrey McCrary's statement “We are exporting the environmental damage caused by our appetites” applies to just about everything American outsources. That is the whole point of it: bypassing American envrionmental and labor regulations.

Similar thoughts are how I contemplate offshore oil drilling and gas fracking here in the US. By sending out oil companies to Nigeria, Ecuador and other poor countries, are we encouraging worse environmental pollution because the damage is out of site and mind? Maybe is we had a couple more Gulf of Mexico oil spills, we would finally wake up to the need for clean renewable energy like we need population controls.
New Mexico
May 2nd, 2011
2:50 pm
I was going to read this article but then I got to the first paragraph,

"A common Bible story says Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, which scholars surmise were tilapia," and I asked myself:

"Self, what kind of writer starts a supposedly factual story out with a fictional event from mythology?"

42. Emmy
New England
May 2nd, 2011
2:51 pm

"Honestly scientists, can't I have anything?"

Ha - I sympathize. After being a vegetarian for 20 years and now going back to meat, I am constantly struggling with what to eat. The truth is, you can have anything you want. Just follow a few rules: buy from farmers in your area who care about the land. Go to a farmer's market and talk to the people growing your food. Buy meat / fish that is wild caught or humanely grown. Do not buy industrial-scale food. Buy artesinal salts and shade-grown coffee from small farmers. Eat small healthy meals and try make your own desserts: strawberries with melted chocolate, for example, instead of something wrapped in plastic.
Costa Rica
May 2nd, 2011
3:04 pm
Nutritional Concerns

For doctors, the debate has centered more on tilapia’s nutritional benefits, or lack thereof. Like all fish, tilapia is a good source of protein, with few of the unhealthy saturated fats in red meats. But unlike most other fish, tilapia contains relatively little of the fish oils that medical research has shown assist brain development and protect against heart disease, stroke and abnormal heart rhythms: a pair of omega-3 fatty acids.

Eating this fish twice a week is very much better than having a fast food burger or fried chicken dinner. Consider what you DON'T eat as well as what you do eat.

44. farmerfred
New York
May 2nd, 2011
3:10 pm
Whoa! Big, big mistake in this article. "He [Mr. Bruce Holub] and other experts echo the industry’s message that tilapia is nonetheless beneficial to eat as a lean source of protein and one that still contains some omega-3, where protein alternatives like red meat and chicken have none." That is patently incorrect. Red meat and chicken DO have omega-3s, and grass fed beef and pastured poultry are LOADED with them. The grass based meats also have a more beneficial ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. It's disturbing when "experts" can be this woefully ignorant. However, the article is quite correct that these tilapia have such a small amount of omega-3s because they're primarily eating corn and soy instead of their natural diet of plants. That's also exactly why factory farmed cattle, who are fed corn and soy instead of their natural diet of plants, are much lower in many important nutrients, including omega-3s, than their grass fed counterparts.

45. Elephant lover
New Mexico
May 2nd, 2011
3:15 pm
The only healthy diet is low fat vegan diet. It is also the easiest diet on the planet. The problem is that it is hard to be a non-fat vegan in the world today -- you can't go to restaurants. Few standard recipes work.
If one stays on a non-fat vegan diet one is not rewarding any of the animal or fish industries.
It is true that the population expansion is what is driving all so much of the fish and animal farming. It makes sense to give up all fish and meat and to encourage smaller families.

46. MSH
May 2nd, 2011
3:30 pm
The article should have also pointed out that most salmon eaten in the US is also farmed, and thus, contains much less omega-3s than wild salmon. In fact, most salmon is now white in appearance and is dyed to look like real wild salmon. Only salmon that is specifically labeled "wild caught" (with a price tag to match) is really healthy for you.

47. Ignaatz
Laguna Beach
May 2nd, 2011
3:40 pm
to further point out what msh says, the problem isn't the nutritional value of tilapia, its the nutritional value of any factory-fish raised on cheap fish food. garbage in, garbage out.
But the seas are already fished out so wild caught seafood is an already squandered and diminished source.
Like tobacco, alcohol, speed cams and student loans, once again government has sold out the needs of the masses to the needs of the few.

48. mike
calabash , n.c.
May 2nd, 2011
3:58 pm
Buyer Beware! Is anyone watching out for us? The world is so quickly
being destroyed by desperate money makers. In recent days we bought Organic lettuce , and it had some tiny worms in it. Extra protein? It's all so pathetic. It seems that everything is a play on words , to confound or draw in any dupe who will buy . The fresh vegetables at any supermarket , Is not fresh! So sad.

49. KJ
New York, NY
May 2nd, 2011
3:58 pm
Regarding Omega-3 fatty acids, it is incorrect to say that red meat and chicken have none. Grass-fed/free-range beef and chicken are naturally rich in Omega-3s.

50. Emmy
New England
May 2nd, 2011
3:58 pm
#34 Aquapon, sorry but fish pens are in no way going to help the ocean ecosystems. It is well established that fish farming can spread disease in wild fish, is not humane and uses resources (what the farmed fish are fed) that are seperate from a self-sustaining ecosystem. Nice try, though.

51. Laurie C
Marina, CA
May 2nd, 2011
4:10 pm
You can certainly improve your diet by buying local, attending farmer's markets and looking for locally grown meat.

This is a good thing for people to do, but we have to remember that many, many people in the US do not live anywhere near a farmer's market; that many supermarkets do not offer locally grown food; and that finding an animal farm to buy local meat from is something that is only available to a small segment of the population. In some places, even fresh produce is not available.

In addition to getting people to understand what "eating healthy" means, they also need to resources to actually do so. I think there needs to be less of "you should go to the farmer's market" and more of "we should help more farmer's markets come into existence". The town I live in did not have such a market until about eight years ago, when a student at the local college started one as her capstone project. It began small, with just three or four booths, and has grown to perhaps twenty -- still small, but big enough to offer people choices in local, healthy produce.

One thing that is great here is that the local hospital holds its own mini-farmer's-market each week, right in front of the main entrance. It includes brochures with tips and recipes.

Oh, and I am one of those don't-like-fishy-fish people, too. And I like tilapia! If only salmon were not so prohibitively expensive...

52. felderino
May 2nd, 2011
4:29 pm
Never liked it. Now I know why!

53. Megan
May 2nd, 2011
4:56 pm
I've had tilapia about 3 times. Each time it tasted like dirt. After the last time, I swore to never eat it again. Now, having read the article, I'm glad I have another reason to not eat it.

54. Leonard
May 2nd, 2011
5:45 pm
This is a really frightening reminder of our race to the bottom with respect to how we regard the environment. And it is a reminder of our utter indifference to the lives of other creatures except as they fill our stomachs or pocketbooks.
Washington, DC
May 2nd, 2011
6:55 pm
Tilapia is a general term representing several species of fishes native to parts of Africa. They are low food chain species, meaning that they naturally eat plants, algae, etc., and don't require fishmeal/wild fish to grow. Tilapia are eaten by some of the poorest people on the planet, and to say that they are "trash" and the "Domino's Pizza of fish", etc., is an insult to the peoples of Africa who count tilapia as part of their cultural identity and national heritage. It is also disrespectful to speak of a living animal this way. These are living beings, and even if they live on a farm--they don't deserve any less of our respect. Sure, tilapia may not be a "white colar" fish, but they have far less of an ecological footprint than salmon and shrimp farming, and they have assisted many people in the developing world to rise up out of poverty through increased food security.
Please. Just give fish a chance.

56. marshesl
Haverhill, MA
May 2nd, 2011
7:20 pm
One of the projects Peace Corps was implementing in Sierra Leone when I was a volunteer there in the early 1980s was fish farming, using tilapia. It was promoted as an excellent source of protein and a way for subsistence farmers to earn additional income; farmers were shown how to build and maintain the ponds that housed the fish. Many years later, back in the US, I discovered tilapia in my local supermarket and, remembering its health benefits, began eating it on a regular basis. But then came reports about the environmental destruction caused by farmed tilapia and I gave it up. Truly, but unfortunately, one man's poisson is another man's poison.

57. Joelle Morrison
Staten Island, NY
May 2nd, 2011
7:43 pm
I grew up in New Orleans and love fish and all seafood, but I have a hard time with tilapia. It has absolutely no taste. Why bother? You might as well eat tofu. Tofu has lots of protein, is tasteless, too, could be shaped like a tilapia, and comes in organic versions, thus avoiding GMO soy or GMO anything. And save up for an occasional splurge with real fish!
Beaumont, TX
May 3rd, 2011
3:00 am
This firm, white fish is excellent for many recipes.
We need to consume more fish these days, anyway.
A cultivated fish, down here in southeast Texas, it's a less expensive, but equally delicious, substitute for red snapper and farm-raised redfish.
However, it appears, wild tilapia is more nutritious, just as wild red snapper is.
Both are more expensive and less available.
The sad part is, as we pollute the Gulf of Mexico, our wild species are not thriving, even as collection is much more expensive.
Too bad.
It looks like, in the future, we will be stuck with farm-raised, less nutritious products in all directions.
But then, to impose qualifications necessary to improve nutrition would be regulation, right?
THAT would interfere with the free market.
Americans better learn, unregulated is not always free to have the best.
Just like with banks and with other regulations.
They are there for a reason.

59. Ely2k
May 3rd, 2011
5:48 am
Recently US Goverment authorized sea farming in special areas offshore. There are experiments on farming Tilapia saltwater. If that could be done, it is a bless for the world.

60. Fred F
May 3rd, 2011
5:48 am
Tilapia fish farms are your worst nightmare in China. Along the Yangtze river, there are these fish farms, with hundreds of fish packed into filthy small, netted-off pools. This is in the same area of the Yangtze that is filled with pollution run-off, of which the tilapia are living in, and surely eating with whatever biotics they are being fed. Just youtube search for the tilapia farms China, Yangtze and you will see what I am talking about. You'll never touch this fish again.

61. Sara
Milwaukee, WI
May 3rd, 2011
5:48 am
If you think this is bad, read about shrimp...even worse for the environment and more widely consumed in America. Also rarely sourced from the US; imported from countries with fewer/less strict regulations.
Kingsville, TX
May 3rd, 2011
8:55 am
And remember adding more injury to insult, remember that flying frozen fish around the world is a large, and totally unnecessary contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. See:

63. Kate
May 3rd, 2011
9:40 am
Personally, with all the health issues (e.g. melamine contamination) and obvious lack of oversight of farming and food processing practices, I won't eat anything coming from China. I now read labels in a way I never used to, and am grateful that Trader Joe's, where I almost exclusively shop, does not carry food from China either.

64. Jaydee Hanson
Washington DC
May 3rd, 2011
10:55 am
The chart on Omega 3 fatty acid content is accurate as far as it goes, but is misleading. Farmed salmon do have high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, but they also have very high levels of Omega 6 fatty acids. If you are worried about eating healthy fish the question you should ask is what is the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, not what is the total. In one of the most cited major studies (Coreen Hamilton, et al.Lipid Composition and Contaminants in Farmed and Wild Salmon,Environ. Sci. Technol. 2005, 39, 8622-8629, farmed salmon had greater levels of total lipid (average 16.6%) than wild salmon(average 6.4%). But the n-3 to n-6 ratio was about 10 in wild salmon and 3-4 in farmed salmon. In short, farmed salmon are fat fish that have so much of the inflamatory oil--omega 6, that it overwhelms the effects of the anti-inflamatory good oil--omega 3. Moreover, farmed salmon have higher levels of toxins that you want to avoid. The genetically engineered salmon now being considered by the FDA for approval as a farmed fish has even worse Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratios than ordinary farmed salmon.

Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Food Safety
Larchmont, NY
May 3rd, 2011
11:05 am
I stopped eating tilapia when I saw an episode of "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery about it. They were feeding the wastewater from farmed salmon to the tilapia. Blech. Even more disturbing, the farm was in the outskirts of Vegas.

66. Dick Glick
Tallahassee, FL
May 3rd, 2011
11:06 am
And my first meeting with tilapia:

The Aquatic Species Program was a research program in the United States launched in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter --

Kaplan Industries, a Slaughter house in Bartow, FL, received a grant from the Carter administration's renewable energy program in 1980. The grant was used by Kaplan to feed calves, housed in a covered area on floors which allowed waste to be washed into an anaerobic fermentation tank arrangement. With this arrangement, waste odors were magnificently absent.

The biomethane derived from the fermentation process ran a power generator feeding Kaplan's operation and the waste water was directed through a series of ponds that were siphon connected. The second to last was an algae growth site and the algae were then fed to tilapia in the last pond. The tilapia were sent to a cat feed manufacturer who returned the tilapia bones so as to become part of the feed used for the calves.

Then the Regan administration stopped funding such and the Kaplan project was ended! Waste odors returned!

67. ToddA
May 3rd, 2011
1:00 pm
Whenever I see frozen tilapia (or other fish) from China in a supermarket, I think of one thing. That one thing is a photograph published some time back by the National Geographic, showing tilapia being 'farmed' in ponds filled with industrial waste next to a massive pollution-spewing factory. I would no sooner each fish from China than I would drink water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As with so many things, cheaper is not always better.
May 3rd, 2011
1:33 pm
Glad this article states what this farm product is fed. Corn and soy, often if not always genetically altered, is enough to persuade me not to eat tilapia.
nyc metroplex
May 3rd, 2011
1:33 pm
70. shinystar
May 3rd, 2011
1:34 pm
awww man I knew something was up, with this one. Just had it for lunch and will eat this frozen bag but this will be off the menu at the household :( won't be too missed though, not a real appetizing fish. Humm what about those salted vacum packed mackerel.....?

71. tungbo
May 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm
There seems to be gapping holes in this article.
Tilapia may not be the best fish nutritionally, but one has to compare it to what the public would have eaten instead: grain fed beef is much more wasteful and energy intensive; wild fish of many species are being overfished and depleted. Farmed tilapia seems like a good compromise given further tightening of farming practices.
Etna, New York, USA
May 3rd, 2011
4:35 pm
The article speaks of tilapia as a single species, and the major farmed version may be. However, this group of fish consists of about 40 species, mostly African. Although they are all similar, there are species to species differences. One of those differences is what they eat naturally... none eat corn or soybeans or fish meal. Virtually all eat algae or other plant matter. So why are they fed high protein food? To make them grow faster and earn a bigger profit.

In the real African setting the native versions of these fish are great in ponds and in the wild because they can turn vegetable matter into valuable healthy protein ... for free. That was the original interest in growing tilapia... in small low-maintenance ponds for local consumption in Africa.

Also, the commercialized version is nothing like any wild species... NONE of those are orange... this so-called improved tilapia was made orange because that might sell better. Really. It is a sad story.

73. alan
May 3rd, 2011
6:05 pm
After reading about what happens factory farm salmon, I refused to eat any fish raised on a "farm." According to this article (published in the NY Times), the natural color of farm raised salmaon is gray but dye is added to the food to give them the same color of wild salmaon). Thus, when I go to the supermarket for fish, if it doesn't say "wild harvested," it remains in the case.

Too bad I can't take the same precaution when it comes to beef and produce. If anything, I blame the FDA for a lot of this because it seems that they err on the sides of the producers instead of the consumer. Now with genetically modified fish being sold (but not labeled as such), what next. As much as people criticize the Europeans, at lest their food supplies are much safer. For example, it's legal for McDonalds to use artificial flavors in their strawberry products but it is illegal for them to do so in England. A McDonalds' spokeswoman said the reason they put artificial ingredients in American products is that it based upon local consumer taste. If you had a choice between real strawberry and artifical strawberry flavoring, what would you choose?

74. RC
Pompano Beach FL
May 3rd, 2011
6:30 pm
#57 Joelle makes a valid point… and states…

“but I have a hard time with tilapia. It has absolutely no taste. Why bother? You might as well eat tofu.”

Untainted Tilapia (untainted any food, including tofu) is good.

As a former culinary professional, I can mention with certainty that tofu (usually extra-firm) is stir-fried/sautéed, at the very least, in an aromatic and/or infused oil…in a preparation where the tofu absorbs the seasonings and other ingredients used in the recipe. It is an absorption palate.

Good and untainted Tilapia is a mild-flavorful white fleshed fish. Not as bland as tofu… but in the fish dining world, an obvious light fish product, desirable from both the versatile cooking and consuming perspectives.

But the rub is “untainted”. Which is the rub in most things in the food chain.

Even that which is “certified” and labeled as organic… is suspect… as have many notable articles over the last 20 years exposed and pointed out.

I think that I see your point #57. Wiser and more considered choices are … wise and considered. Unfortunately for a few billion people across the planet, wise and considered decisions about what they consume is superseded, predicated, and dictated by personal economics… or lack thereof.

A vicious cycle, perpetuated by the powers that be… and condoned by the masses that are subject to their manipulations.

How do you feed 7-8 billion hungry mouths?

Tofu is a minor partial answer.

So is farm-raised Tilapia and other closely penned in fish and land animals. Chickens. Cattle. Swine. Homo-sapiens.

Soylent Green?

75. A-
May 3rd, 2011
7:00 pm
fish eating corn and soy???

now I dont feel like eating them :-
76. womanstruth
Portland, OR
May 3rd, 2011
7:01 pm
I can't figure out why we haven't gotten this yet but part of the reason why we are getting fat and diabetic is because we are feeding our industrialized animals corn and soy and then eating them. Hello?!

My carbs are carbs and now even my proteins are carbs. What is wrong with this picture?

77. Robert Holmes Herzstein
Pacific Palisades, CA
May 4th, 2011
4:15 am
The article correctly points out that wild fish like salmon are nutritious largely because their diet consists of aquatic plants and algae. The photosynthetic activity of plants produces thousands of compounds which, science is discovering, are extremely beneficial to health, such as antioxidants, phytochemicals, etc.

So what's the obvious implication for an optimal human diet? Skip most or all of the fish, mammals, and poultry, and eat the dark-green leafy plants themselves! Your health will benefit and so will the environment.
Atlanta, GA
May 4th, 2011
8:57 am
Not a good article, if you are a Tilapia!!! I don't care for them any way...rather have wild caught salmon, tuna, etc.
May 4th, 2011
8:59 am

80. Dark City
May 4th, 2011
11:05 am
When I read how famred tilapia is raised I stopped eating it, and to a commenter who mentioned frozen tilapia from China, I don't buy anything made or produced there. A matter of principal and safety.

81. Rozmarija Grauds
May 4th, 2011
12:55 pm
We alays read labels and never buy seafood from China or Thailand. Scary! we at least consider it safer to eat Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, and non-antibiotic raised chicken.
82. Jeffrey McCrary
Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
May 4th, 2011
6:00 pm
Mr. David Senna is partly right when he says "if they’re going to take over, it was already doomed". Lake Nicaragua once had a booming fishery based on native cichlids. A few decades after their introduction, tilapia are the most abundant of fish in Lake Nicaragua. Today's catch rate-notwithstanding better fishing equipment than three decades ago-is less than half, when including the wild tilapia catch. Where Senna is wrong is that every new fish introduced into the lake brings with it new genes, facilitating this amazing species to outcompete the local cichlids in ever more niches throughout the lake. Lake Nicaragua is the evolutionary origin and principal habitat of dozens of species of fishes which are not prepared to compete with this master of adaptation.

tilapia farm Nicaragua
Click on the "escudo" to contact us

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