Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes and less commonly found living in brackish water.
The tilapiines of North Africa are the most important commercial cichlids. Fast-growing, tolerant of stocking density, and adaptable, they have been introduced to and are farmed extensively in many parts of Asia and are increasingly common aquaculture targets elsewhere.
Tilapia can be used in most recipes that call for white fish.
Tilapia is one of several commercially important aquaculture species (including trout, barramundi and channel catfish) susceptible to off-flavours. These 'muddy' or 'musty' flavours are normally caused by geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneol, organic products of ubiquitous cyanobacteria that are often present or bloom sporadically in water bodies and soil. These flavours are no indication of freshness or safety of the fish, but can harm the reputation of a product in the eyes of the consumer. Simple quality control procedures are known to be effective in ensuring the quality of fish entering the market.