Oreochromis niloticus niloticus

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Global
Production method — Closed recirculation system (RAS) monoculture
Picture of Tilapia

Sustainability rating one info

Sustainability overview

Farming tilapia in fully closed recirculation systems avoids all of the negative environmental impacts associated with open water production. Issues such as discharges, escapes, transfer of disease and parasites, habitat damage, water pollution or degradation are prevented in closed system production systems. Tilapia are omnivores, and as such have a low requirement for fishmeal and fish-oil in their diets, making them a net producers of protein and therefore a valuable aquaculture species.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 1

For uncertified tilapia it is impossible to ascertain the sustainable sourcing of feed. It is known that most feed manufacturers have a sourcing policy in place but the specifications within them are unknown.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: 7

Tilapia farmed in closed production systems do not have the environmental impacts of those farmed in open systems. Issues such as escapes, pollution and disease transfer are all mitigated in closed systems.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 1

Humane slaughter practices are adopted but welfare standards need to be defined.



Criterion Score: 2

The regulations and planning required for land based aquaculture are in place and broadly effective. There is no independent certification of this species in this land based system.


Production method

Closed recirculation system (RAS) monoculture

Tilapia can be farmed in a number of ways, which varies according to country and size of production. They can be produced in open systems, using pens submerged in freshwater bodies, or in raceways that are flushed by streams. They can also be farmed in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), a system that ensures waste is retained and escapes prevented.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


Tilapia is a generic name used to describe groups of fish called cichlids that are native to Africa. Tilapia are hardy, freshwater fish that tolerate a wide range of water conditions. They inhabit warm ponds, lakes and streams, and reproduce in fresh and brackish water. They mainly feed on phytoplankton, zooplankton and algae. They reach a maximum size of 45cm and a weight of 2kg.


NACA. A review of global tilapia farming practices. Available online at: http://www.enaca.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=453

FAO 2005-2018.Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Oreochromis niloticus. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by Rakocy, J. E. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 18 February 2005. [Cited 12 September 2018].

Bacterial Diseases of Finfish in the South East Asian Region. Available online at: http://www.thefishsite.com/articles/574/bacterial-diseasesof-Finfish-in-the-south-east-asian-region