Scientific name (farm raised): Oreochromis; including: O. niloticus, O. mossambicus, O. aureus, and O. hornorum and various hybrids
Other Names: St. Peter's fish, sunfish.... There are two types of Tilapia available for consumption. Farm-raised and wild caught fish.
Range & Habitat: Tilapia is a hardy, prolific, fast-growing tropical fish native to Israel, where it has been farmed for about 2,500 years. It requires water temperatures from 76 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Market Description: Currently, tilapia are produced in outdoor ponds and indoor systems. They are prolific breeders and were considered a national pest in Indonesia until the citizens began using them as a food source. Tilapia production in outside ponds is strictly regulated in the southern United States for fear that some fish may escape from the farm ponds and encroach on native sport fishing populations. It is hardier and more prolific than other species.
Tilapia, several species and their hybrids of Oreochromis, are the second most important group of farm raised fish in the world. Tilapia farming and consumption are rapidly increasing in the US. Tilapia is now the fifth most popular seafood consumed in the United States.
Flavor & Texture: Tilapia has a light, sweet flavor and semi-firm texture, comparable to catfish. It has a delicate taste. Tilapia fillets are white in color with a mild taste that goes great with sauces. Tilapia is often substituted for Flounder when the later is not available with very little noticeable difference.
Buying Tips: Tilapia is sold fresh or frozen, usually fairly fresh from the farm. It is sometimes marketed as St. Peter's fish, cherry snapper or sunfish. Tilapia is commonly sold in fillets but can be purchased live at some markets.