Tilapia control methods and their effectiveness

Two species of tilapia, Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and the black mangrove cichlid or spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae), are becoming significant pests in many waterways in tropical and sub-tropical Australia. Numbers of both species have increased and they have spread significantly since their introduction during the 1970s and 1980s due to natural and human-assisted (whether deliberate or unintentional) dispersal.

There are a range of control measures currently available for use on tilapia and other pest fish but most are situation specific. For example, screens and filters can be used to prevent movements of pest fish, and poisons may be effective in eradicating small, newly established populations. In the majority of situations, unless the entire population and any possible source of reintroduction are removed, the highly flexible reproductive capacity of tilapia will, in the absence of effective ongoing management, see the population quickly return to original numbers.

There is currently no single overall option for the control of tilapia. The main focus of tilapia management is restricting the range of both species by attempting to minimise their spread by people. Targeted education campaigns actively highlight the potential damage caused by introduced tilapia to the natural environment and educate the  public on what the fish look like and what to do if one is found. Community involvement in protecting and conserving local waterways is the most effective control method in stopping the further spread of both tilapia species in  Australia.

This fact sheet outlines current management tools for tilapia in Australian waterways and their effectiveness. Produced by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre as part of the PestSmart series.

Documents TILFS6 PestSmart Factsheet: Tilapia control methods and their effectiveness  [275 kb PDF]
Author Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
Year 2014
Publisher Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
Pages 2 pp
ISBN/ISSN PestSmart code: TILFS6
Control method Integrated Pest Management
Region Australia - national