I know tilapia can be pretty viscous and eat other fish so my gut response to my own question is "no, why would you want to??" But, they say a tilapia can only eat what it can fit its mouth around. So, if you put say significantly older catfish in with tilapia (i.e. if the catfish are more medium size and the tilapia are fingerling size), might they be ok in the same tank? What do folks think?
(Note: I only have one tank. So, while I don't want to do something dumb like lose half of my fish to hungry tilapia, I'm looking for a way it might work.
If you are doing similar sizes, then I expect that tilapia can share with most fish unless the problem is actually "tilapia domestic violence" When involved with breeding tilapia can be really violent to each other, I'm not sure if this is likely to carry over to other species of fish though. A male tilapia will often chase and really stress out a female that is not in the mood if there are not enough fish in the tank or not a big enough tank to give her a rest and then a female with a mouth full of eggs can get really violet and beat up other fish that come into her territory when she is trying to make a safe place to release her eggs.
I generally kept my tilapia in a cage or floating frame within a bigger tank to keep them from breeding out of control and outside the cage I kept channel catfish. I did have one instance of tilapia breeding take place in that cage when I dropped and left a 4" plumbing fitting in there for a few days. A few of those tilapia babies kept escaping me and were free outside the cage (since as fry they would swim right through the 1/4" mesh that was supposed to keep the adults from managing to breed) and my big catfish were apparently too well fed and too lazy to catch and eat those tilapia fingerlings.
So I would guess that you could keep catfish and tilapia together. If you are starting with small tilapia fingerlings (like 1-3 inches) and you stock catfish fingerlings in the 3-5 inch range then I expect you might be ok as long as you keep them fed well with good high protein fingerling food till they settle in and think of pellets as food instead of other fish. I've never really stocked multiple species freely in the same tank though.
Of course catfish do eat other fish and as catfish get bigger, their mouths are really big and while mine were too lazy to eat the tilapia fingerlings, I don't know that it would be the case everywhere. I do know sometimes catfish do get territorial and aggressive and I think most of the ones I've had jump out of a tank were being chased and bullied by a bigger fish.
I've also been told that bluegill can be really aggressive in tank culture but I haven't seen it myself since they are in their own tank.
Read on Aquaponics Source that you can introduce a prey species to control tilapia population growth. Best predator among the many they claim to have tried is large mouth bass.
I have koi and tilapia living perfectly happy together in all my tanks. I keep them roughly size graded in each tank to avoid any issues of big tilapia from eating small fish. Once the fish are at least 4" I stop fussing with size grading. I find the koi are much more fun to grow than tilapia. The koi are actually growing faster than the tilapia in my water temp of a constant 70 degrees.
Tilapia and asian catfish get along fine. In fact none of my tilapia have been that violent with each other. They may eat the very small fry but mostly they swim peacfully together, They are crowded sometimes still they don't bother each other. I try to give them a happy envionrnent.
I have too have a small number of Tilapia growing with my Koi (by mistake), and recently David Hart started a new IBC tank where we have Catfish and one Tilapia living together. They are roughly the same size / weight and I have not seen any problems. Not sure what would happen if you were to introduce different fish of different size at different times...probably suspect that if Catfish fingerlings or say 2 inches were introduced to a tank with Tilapia of much bigger size, say 4+ inches, there would probably live in harmony. Not sure if it was the other way round though. I am sure that as TCLynx states, you could plan to have the larger Catfish for fish quantity control re Tilapia fingerlings...only problem is, as she states, we tend to have our fish "too well fed and too lazy to catch and eat those tilapia fingerlings."
Hope that all of you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I think I'm going to be putting some bluegill in with some of my catfish here soon.
When we finish harvesting the big old catfish out of the big tank, I'm gonna move 70 of the smaller catfish over to the big tank and that should leave me with 15 smaller catfish in the blue tank where I will put the left over bluegill from the front porch tank (which is going away.) So I will see how about 15 advanced catfish fingerlings do with an assortment of bluegill from 3-6 inches.
Thanks for all the responses, guys! This is helpful :)
Well the catfish might eat what they can, but I find they can be very lazy when well fed and mine never put much effort into eating the small tilapia.