Common name: banded tilapia
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to sunfishes and black basses (Lepomis and Micropterus; family Centrarchidae). Cichlids can be distinguished from centrarchids by a single nostril opening on each side of the head (vs. two openings in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (vs. a continuous lateral line in centrarchids). Distinguishing characteristics of banded tilapia were given in Thys van den Audenaerde 1964, de Moor and Bruton (1988), Eccles (1992), and Skelton (1993). This species is included in keys of Skelton (1993). It was illustrated in de Moor and Bruton (1988) and in Eccles (1992). For color illustrations or photographs of this fish, see Goldstein (1973), Axelrod (1993), and Skelton (1993).
Size: to 23 cm SL (Skelton 1993).
Native Range: Tropical and subtropical Africa: Kasai drainage including the Lulua and Kwango (middle Congo River basin), upper Congo River basin including the upper Lualaba, Luvua, Lake Mweru, Luapula, Lufira, and Upemba region (Thys van den Audenaerde 1964), upper Cuanza, Cunene, Okavango, Lake Ngami, Limpopo, Sabi, Lundi, northern tributaries of the Orange River, and Bangweulu (Teugels and Thys van den Audenaerde 1991), Lake Malawi, and Zambezi system (Skelton 1993); distribution map provided in Philippart and Ruwet (1982).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Tilapia sparrmanii are found here.
Table last updated 9/28/2021
† Populations may not be currently present.
Means of Introduction: Probable fish farm release or escape (Smith-Vaniz, personal communication).
Status: Failed in Florida (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990; Courtenay and Williams 1992).
Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.
References: (click for full references)
Axelrod, H.R. 1993. The most complete colored lexicon of cichlids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Burgess, J.E. 1958. The fishes of Six Mile Creek, Hillsborough County, Florida, with particular reference to the presence of exotic species. Paper presented at the 12th annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners, Louisville, KY. Unpublished mimeograph.
Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.
Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.D. Williams. 1992. Dispersal of exotic species from aquaculture sources, with emphasis on freshwater fishes. 49-81 in A. Rosenfield, and R. Mann, eds. Dispersal of living organisms into aquatic ecosystems. Maryland Sea Grant Publication, College Park, MD.
de Moor, I.J., and M.N. Bruton. 1988. Atlas of alien and translocated indigenous aquatic animals in southern Africa. South African National Scientific Programmes Report 144. Foundation for Research Development and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa.
Eccles, D.H. 1992. FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes: field guide to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy.
Goldstein, R.J. 1973. Cichlids of the world. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Pelzman, R.J. 1972. Evaluation of introduction of Tilapia sparrmanii into California. California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Administrative Report 72-3. Unpublished mimeograph.
Philippart, J.-Cl., and J.-Cl. Ruwet. 1982. Ecology and distribution of tilapias. 15-59 in R.S.V. Pullin, and R.H. Lowe-McConnell, eds. The biology and culture of tilapias. ICLARM conference proceedings 7, International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines.
Skelton, P.H. 1993. A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern Book Publishers, Halfway House, South Africa.
Smith-Vaniz, W.F., J.D. Williams, L.G. Nico, and W.F. Loftus. Key to the cichlid fishes of Florida. Unpublished mimeograph (in prep).
Teugels, G.G. and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde. 1991. Tilapia. 482-508 in J. Daget, J.P. Gosse, G.G. Teugels and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde, eds. Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 4.
Thys van den Audenaerde, D.F.E. 1964. Révision systématique des espèces congolaises du genre Tilapia (Pisces, Cichlidae). Annales du Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Sciences Zoologiques 124:1-155.
Leo Nico, Bill Loftus, and Matt Neilson
Revision Date: 11/1/2012
Peer Review Date: 11/1/2012
Leo Nico, Bill Loftus, and Matt Neilson, 2021, Tilapia sparrmanii Smith, 1840: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=484, Revision Date: 11/1/2012, Peer Review Date: 11/1/2012, Access Date: 9/28/2021
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.