Species group: Cichlids
Other common names: Tiger Tilapia; Hornet Tilapia; Buttikoferi Cichlid; Buttie Cichlid
Scientific name: Tilapia buttikoferi
The Zebra Tilapia is a member of the Cichlid family which is native to coastal rivers and streams in West Africa.Tilapia buttikoferi are a popular aquarium fish, but unfortunately have been released into rivers in parts of the United States. The Zebra Tilapia is considered to be established in Florida, and because of this, is illegal there and in some other areas. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) the wild population is considered to be of Least Concern as "this species has a wide distribution with no known major widespread threats."
Zebra Tilapia are large fish with stocky, oval-shaped bodies. The body is white or yellow with 7 to 9 dark colored stripes. The color intensity of the stripes depends on the color of the substrate in the tank but fade as the fish grows older. The stripes extend on to the fins. Yellow and white color varieties are known in this species.
It is an aggressive omnivore, and can reach lengths of 15 inches. Zebra Tilapias are extremely aggressive and are kept singly in tanks. Juvenile fish are sociable and can live peacefully with other fish. However, as they grow, their aggressive tendencies develop and they may attack any other fish in its territory. This aggressive behavior may even be seen in a breeding pair. In a community tank, they may be kept with bigger fish species.
This fish requires a 125 gallon tank. Artificial plants are kept in the aquarium since these fish have a tendency to uproot and destroy live specimens. The base of the tank is layered with fine substrate since the fish dig and move it around and tend to spit some of it at the glass sides of the tank. A few sturdy rocks in the tank provide the fish with resting place. This fish is mainly a bottom dweller.