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Blue versus nile tilapia (aureus vs. nilotica)

I've been doing some researching on the internet and can't really find any differences between the two varieties except that in the blue, the males get a bright blue head. Are there any differences in the toleration of lower/higher temperatures, oxygen, size etc? I live in Phoenix so there will be some (LOTS) of heat in the summer, I'm not sure if I will need to heat the pond (I am planning on making it about 800 gallons- 5 'X 7' X 3') in the winter. I don't know if one or the other of these two fish would offer any advantages to me. I am brand new to this so thanks for your help!

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Potential world record tilapia caught in St. Lucie River, FL

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/sep/01/potential-world-record-tilap...
Realistically, if you're brand new, what you mainly want is tough, hardy fish. For that, O. mossambicus, the common black tilapia, wins. (They're also very tasty.) I believe that niloticus is more vegetarianin its eating habits than either mossambicus or aureus. Try asking the folks at Friendly Aquaponics, I'm sure they know. Last I knew they were raising blues and also some stunning white tilapia.
The blues are the only legal ones in Florida unless you have an Aquaculture permit.

Rachael, It's been a long time since you posted this. How are things going? 

I live in the Phx area as well (Gilbert) & we're starting a 200 gal tank with Nile Tilapia. We have it cycled & just added the tilapia. We used chicken poop & goldfish to get it going. Yes, there are risks in doing that, but you go cautiously & it can work. If this goes well we'll expand to a 1500 gal. tank 

Since you started in the summer & have made it through the winter, I'm wondering how you did through the freezes? We're building a greenhouse which will have a swamp cooler to control the heat. I'd love to find out how your system is progressing.  

My first test system sprung a small leak in the growbed so I built a new system out of an IBC. The fish are growing, some grew very fast, some are still only a few inches long (Males vs females?). I made an arch over the top of the growbed out of an 8' x 4 piece of concrete reinforcement mesh and covered the whole thing with greenhouse plastic. It got really hot in there during the days (well over 100˚), I thought it would make the lettuce bolt, but the cooler water temps must keep that from happening. That along with a small aquarium heater rated for 90 gallons (the tank part of my system is probably 175 gallons) kept the fish warm enough even through that 19˚ night. I have since built a 500 gallon pond, but don't have growbeds for it yet, I'm hoping to expand into that this spring/summer.

We raise 4 different tilapia strains.  White Brook White Niles (O. niloticus based strain), Red Niles (O. niloticus based strain), A pure Blue (O. aureus based strain) and Hawaiian Golds (O. mossambicus based strain).  They are all fairly similar in most aspects, but they do have their differences.

 

The White Brook White Niles and Red Niles are the fastest growing and have the best body conformation for maximum fillet yield.  They also tolerate low temperatures rivaling that of Blues.  The Blues are the most cold tolerant, but really only by a degree or two.  They are a fast growing fish, but not as fast as the Niles.  The Hawaiian Golds are the least cold tolerant, at around 56F degrees, but they are extremely easy to breed (males and females can be ID'd without vent examination quite accurately and easily) and have amazingly striking orange/gold color.  For a Mozambique strain, they are impressively fast growers as well, and make an excellent choice for growers who have a temperature controlled system.

 

Depending on the application, there are situations where one strain is better suited than another.  Typically, for most growers, a fast growth rate is the single most important characteristic.  Cold tolerance is less important than most people consider it to be.  If a fish can reach harvest size within 5-6 months, you don't have to worry much about cold tolerance as long as you are maintaining an indoor breeder colony over the winter months or purchase your fish annually.  Frankly, those are the two primary options for the bulk of growers in the US.

 

Sylvia sells the White Brook White Nile and Pure Blue Tilapia on her website in small quantities.

Interesting ... do you know anywhere could we get Hawaiian Golds in Hawaii? Here on Kauai we have some wild golden tilapia, I have had them in my system,a nd they aren't as hardy or as fast-growing as the blacks.
Kellen Weissenbach said:

We raise 4 different tilapia strains.  White Brook White Niles (O. niloticus based strain), Red Niles (O. niloticus based strain), A pure Blue (O. aureus based strain) and Hawaiian Golds (O. mossambicus based strain).  They are all fairly similar in most aspects, but they do have their differences.

 

The White Brook White Niles and Red Niles are the fastest growing and have the best body conformation for maximum fillet yield.  They also tolerate low temperatures rivaling that of Blues.  The Blues are the most cold tolerant, but really only by a degree or two.  They are a fast growing fish, but not as fast as the Niles.  The Hawaiian Golds are the least cold tolerant, at around 56F degrees, but they are extremely easy to breed (males and females can be ID'd without vent examination quite accurately and easily) and have amazingly striking orange/gold color.  For a Mozambique strain, they are impressively fast growers as well, and make an excellent choice for growers who have a temperature controlled system.

 

Depending on the application, there are situations where one strain is better suited than another.  Typically, for most growers, a fast growth rate is the single most important characteristic.  Cold tolerance is less important than most people consider it to be.  If a fish can reach harvest size within 5-6 months, you don't have to worry much about cold tolerance as long as you are maintaining an indoor breeder colony over the winter months or purchase your fish annually.  Frankly, those are the two primary options for the bulk of growers in the US.

 

Sylvia sells the White Brook White Nile and Pure Blue Tilapia on her website in small quantities.

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