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My tilapia are breeding on their own, whats next.?

While we weren't trying to breed them but hoping they would on their own, I just noticed that 2 of my females have bulging mouths, I for sure seen eggs in 1 of their mouths.

1st: How long till they release their eggs?

2nd: I have 4 females & 2 males in the same tank, if I try to remove the un brooding ones, will the others spit out their eggs?

3rd: best recommendation for my situation please?

thank you in advance for your help.

Mike H.

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I have one male/one female blue tilapia.

1. There is approximately a two week incubation period, after which time babies will be spewed out. When afraid, and at often at night, the babies will retreat back into the female's mouth (yup, all of them!) In an aquarium, I usually remove the male when I realize she has a mouthful; then after the babies arrive I also remove the female after 4 more days. This cuts down on the number of fry being eaten by the adults. The one time I left all in the tank, the babies were all gone after a week and a half. Give the babies plenty of places to hide if you are unable to remove the adults. There will be anywhere from 200-400, or more, fry when she 'delivers'. Are you prepared for that many? I've run out of room and have been in a daily race to keep the tanks relatively livable for them...lotsa babies do a lot of do-do! Occassionally I'm able to sell some of the fingerlings here in Tucson

2. Even if the eggs are spat out, I believe she will retrieve the eggs back into her mouth as things settle down. I have carfully removed the one male with no effect on the brooding female.

The fry need to eat algae; if you don't have any available, pick up some 'First Bites' packets. I've been unable to get any of that in bulk, so after the first week or so, I crush up high-protein fish flakes.

How big is your tank?

Hope this info helps...I'm no professional, but this has been my experience.

thank you for the reply, my tank is a  55g. we thought we had 2 males but aren't really sure now. we removed 2 fish so far. we have 2 lighter colored (assume these are females) and 2 dark colored fish (assume these are males) they are also aggressive towards the other fish and each other. we turned a couple upside down to see the difference but we really can't tell. they are only 5" long and really sure what we are looking for. we have seem pics of the difference on the internet but still hard for us to see and make it out.

I had trouble sexing the fish too so I just gave up on it. I took the brooding female out of the tank while she still has eggs and put her in a clear (translucent) plastic tub (the kitchen type so you can actually see through it). I bought a cheap aquarium filter for the tank and made sure the inlet screen was tiny. It's hard to separate the mom from the fry because they dart into her mouth at the first sign of danger. What I did was scoop as many as I could on 4-5 different occasions ( after the mom settles down she releases the fry again) then put the mom back in with the population. Make sure she's 's eating because she doesn't while she's brooding. It's easier to start a fry tank than protect them from the larger population. I got 500 and 300 in my first 2 litters. I haven't bred any since but some still survive in the larger population somehow. Unless you're prepared to have several large tanks like IBC size don't try to keep all of them. Like Pam said keeping up with the filtering is almost impossible and it will take forever to grow them.

thank you very much

so far still no babies. hopefully soon.
we did find another female crawfish in the sump that had berries so we put into a separate part of the sump and will be moving her soon to another small aquarium as soon as get it.. lol
Well we tried to seperate the female and she spit out her eggs and just left them.
Now we found another female and tried to seperate her and she did the exact same thing. Not sure what to do now at this point.
Do I just let them hatch next time and take out chances that we can save some of them.?

Sounds unusual to me. I've only done it twice and they didn't spit em out. Letting them hatch might work. The fry will dart into the moms mouth at any sign of danger.

Please re-read my initial posting; in part within item 1, it says: In an aquarium, I usually remove the male when I realize she has a mouthful; then after the babies arrive I also remove the female after 4 more days.

I try not to relocate the female. Assuming you have another tank or two, carefully just remove the males. How many fish do you have in the 55 gal? Can you cull it down to just one known female and male?

I've attached a picture of my male, who is in the same 55 gal as my female. I separate them with a plastic grid (left side of pic) cut to size from one of those ceiling light fixtures. Currently, I don't want them to breed...but this same techique might be used to isolate the female with eggs while the others can be removed from the tank.

Hope this is helpful.


That's the thing Pam, we werent trying to get them to breed. We seen the female had a swollen mouth, we were trying to isolate her but it didn't work. We had placed all the tilapia back in the same aquarium and were getting ready to put them back into the System FT, when we saw that about her. We did end up getting a few out but are worried because it is hard to isolate her from the others at this point. I guess we could just put and a male into the aquarium once we get all the others out and try again.

I always find it easier to keep an eye on the female at watch for the eggs to hatch and then save the fry.  My first attempt at catching mama resulted in her spitting them all out, probably a little prematurely.   I can tell when the fry are about ready to leave the nest so to speak because the female gets very aggressive and tries to keep all of the other adults at the other end of the tank.

That being said, I am never able to save all the fry and in fact often just let nature take its course (most get eaten) as I do not currently have the room for 200+ fry every month.  There always seem to be a few that survive judging on the varying sizes that I have at any given moment

Thank you Suzanne, I dropped a few pieces of 1/2" & 3/4" PVC about 4-5" long into the tank, hoeofully if they hatch they will hide in those so the others can't eat them. We don't want many fry just maybe 40-60 to add to our system.

When I had the mom in a separate tub (plastic sterlite 20ish gallon) I took the fry in several attemps because they dart back into the moms mouth. I got 300 in one batch and 500 in another. I haven't tried breeding since LOL. They are still multiplying in regular population.

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