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How old do tilapia need to be before breeding and producing babies?

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Lots of variables to consider, but I have females in the 4-6 month range (4-5 inches) actively engaging in breeding activity. The smaller females certainly produce smaller batches of eggs, but I've not noticed any difference in mortality/hatch rate in my breeding tanks. I mostly let nature run it's course now and wait until a female has eggs in her mouth to separate her from the main FT's. This has been much more productive than my attempts at pairing males and females in a breeding tanks. Once she is discovered, we gently move her to a 55gal tank setup for fry (I run an U/G filter and modified pump inlet arrangement so not to suck up the fry). After they hatch, mom hangs out for a week or two, then back to the FT.

Nature works out when they CAN breed, but to the best of my knowledge, there are no adverse effects which might require you to keep a female from breeding until older. Hope that makes sense.

Hope that helps

I read someplace that they need some sort of strata or bed to lay their eggs in for fertilization.

What do you know about that?

What do you use if anything? I would appreciate any and all advise and information.


I have used a clay flower pot, flat, clay tiles and PVC pipe. They sometimes use them and sometimes just nest on the bottom or in the gravel (in my breeding tank).

They really aren't picky and pretty much work it out when and where to breed. You might do better, but I found they do better picking their own partners as opposed to me trying to pair them.

If I could make one suggestion...let them do their thing and hatch the babies completely on their own. They are very good at it. Don't try to make an egg tumbler and hatch them yourself - you'll end up with a bunch of fuzzy, moldy, dead eggs.

Greetings. I've found tumbling works extremely well for me. Here is a paper describing the one I use. I built one today. Took $8 and 14 minutes. Used a bucket from Lowes instead of a 10 gal fish tank through I found the tank at Petsmart for $13. It is extremely effective though practice makes perfect. The airlift pump for example is very powerful. Too much air and the eggs will be blasted out of the tumbler jar.

Here is the link to the paper and a photo:  Enjoy:

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