Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), is one of the important candidate species for aquaculture in India . It has become a fish of choice because it is fast growing and an affordable source of animal protein.
Tilapia is the third most important fish after carps and salmon in the world. India’s contribution for export to outside countries of Tilapia is recently insignificant and there is vast potential for exporting this fish. This fish is most suitable for culture in tropical zones as the temperatures are highly suitable for fast growth. This fish can tolerate temperatures of 82-86°F .This fish is a prolific breeder and sustained efforts by several research institutions led to the production of mono sex all male culture. Presently, Genetically Modified Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) is being successfully produced and farmed in our country. This species takes only 6 months to reach to 600-900 gms size from 50-80 gm size stocking.
Tilapia’s unique characteristics make it an ideal candidate for genetic improvement through selective breeding.
Tilapia are shaped much like sunfish or crappie but can be easily identified by an interrupted lateral line characteristic of the Cichlid family of fishes. They are laterally compressed and deep-bodied with long dorsal fins. The forward portion of the dorsal fin is heavily spined. Spines are also found in the pelvis and anal fins. There are usually wide vertical bars down the sides of fry, fingerlings, and sometimes adults.
It can be grown in diverse farming systems and is omnivorous, requiring minimal fish meal in its feed. It has a naturally high tolerance to variable water quality and can grow in both freshwater and marine environments. Because tilapia are hardy and have good disease resistance, they are inexpensive and easy for small-scale farmers to grow for food, nutrition and income.
Tilapia is the generic name of a group of cichlids endemic to Africa. The group consists of three aquaculturally important genera Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and Tilapia. Several characteristics distinguish these three genera, but possibly the most critical relates to reproductive behaviour. All tilapia species are nest builders; fertilised eggs are guarded in the nest by a brood parent. Species of both Sarotherodon and Oreochromis are mouth brooders; eggs are fertilised in the nest but parents immediately pick up the eggs in their mouths and hold them through incubation and for several days after hatching. In Oreochromis species only females practice mouth brooding, while in Sarotherodon species either the male or both male and female are mouth brooders.