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I have a tilapia with a mouth full of eggs, whats the best way to save them? I have her in a 10 gallon tank with a grate on the bottom so she can't get to them once she spits them out. Is this what I want to do?

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There's tons of good info in here - you should join!

Tilapia are mouth brooders so you don't really want her spitting out the eggs until they hatch and can swim around, and even then she may take the fry back into her mouth to protect them for a time.

Respectfully, leave her alone.

People frequently try to intervene and end up disturbing a very successful, natural process. Tilapia know how to have and then care for their young. There have been many unfortunate experiences posted by folks trying to "help."

She needs to get to those eggs - she will collect them and eject them over and over again. The tumbling process is beneficial to the eggs. You may have seen youtube vidoes of people building "tumblers" to simulate this. Many attempting to artificially hatch eggs have sad results as well. Moms know best - let her take care of her babies.

After they hatch, I generally don't take mom out for a few weeks. By that time they can eat finely ground pellets.

Good luck. It's a fun process and very rewarding.

Very cool. I did have one other question. Should I feed her? She was not eating which is how I noticed she was with babies.


Yep, that's the big sign something's up. She most likely will not eat until after they hatch. If you try to feed her and she won't have it, just remove the food.

Thanks alot, Very helpful information.

I'm sure you've already thought about it, but make sure the pump or filter intake has not only a fine screen, but the screen is a larger diameter than the pickup tube or intake. What can happen is that the little guys get too close and though they can't get sucked in, they can get stuck to the tube and injured or worse.

I modified a PVC adaptor that fit the pickup tube on my cannister filter just for the breeding tanks. It's greatly reduced suction is safe for the youngsters, but not ideal for the long term. When they get promoted from swimup fry to fingerlings, the adaptor comes off. I use two identical tanks, once mom and pop do their thing, pop goes to tank 2. A week or two after the babies hatch, mom joins him again and so on.

My inlaws have a large pond and raise Tilapia so the fish that don't go to the AP system go to the farm.


Makes a lot of sense. I will have to do that.

My sister in-law has a pond covered with duckweed. Told her to get some tilapia to take care of the duckweed and as a bonus have a fish fry! They are 1200 miles away so it’s not like I can stock it for her.

Tom, my tilapia regime is this: ignore the brooding mother for seven days once you noticing her with eggs. At day 7, gently net her out. Gently. I use a net in each hand, and move in slow motion. Once you get her, quickly move her to a small tank with nothing but a heater and bubble stone. Most of my mothers will hold the eggs through the entire process, a few will spit them out, usually in the net. Either way, make sure she and the eggs get into the clean small container, and then split. Leave her alone. She will calm down and gather every one of them back into her mouth. Yes, feed her, not too much. She hasn't eaten for a week, and those baby's will need to eat too. Sometimes she will take a bite and let the babies feed in her mouth. At 7 days, the eggs will be hatching, literally. I usually see a mix hatched and unhatched eggs if she happens to spit some out. Moving her too early may result in her spitting them out and not retrieving them, too late and she may also abandon them. As soon as she won't let them back in her mouth (another week or so), move her back to the main tank. You may have to do some partial water changes in the fry tank, as it gets nasty quick with those heavy little feeders. About 2 weeks after becoming free swimming, I move the fry to a larger tank with a pump and a GB, to sell or graduate to a grow out tank.

That's my method. GL

Great information. Thanks a bunch.

She will not eat while holding.

Tom Hickey said:

Very cool. I did have one other question. Should I feed her? She was not eating which is how I noticed she was with babies.


Tis the season to breed tilapia. So I thought you might find this paper on how to hatch tilapia eggs helpful. However, just to answer some pre-questions:

1. Yes it works.

2. Yes it really is that inexpensive. Naturally the cost has gone up some since 2002 when this paper was written but it can still be done for under $15 (not including the air pump)

3. Yes it is completely scaleable.

4. Yes it will work on a variety of other egg types as well.

Here is the link to the paper. Enjoy:

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