Tilapia

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Tilapia (pronounced /təˌlɑpiə/) is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fishes from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapias inhabit a variety of fresh and, less commonly, brackish water habitats from shallow streams and ponds through to rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Most tilapias are omnivorous with a preference for soft aquatic vegetation and detritus. They have historically been of major importance in artisanal fishing in Africa and the Levant, and are of increasing importance in aquaculture around the world (see tilapia in aquaculture). Where tilapia have been deliberately or accidentally introduced, they have frequently become problematic invasive species (see tilapia as exotic species).

Etymology

The common name tilapia is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapia, which is itself a latinisation of thiape, the Tswana word for "fish".[1] The genus name and term was first introduced by Scottish zoologist Andrew Smith in 1840.[2]

As they have been introduced globally for human consumption, tilapia often have specific names for them in various languages and dialects. Certain species of tilapia are sometimes called "St. Peter's fish." This term is taken from the account in the Christian Bible about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a shekel coin in its mouth. According to the tale, the dark spots on the sides of the fish, a common pattern in many tilapiine cichlids, are the fingermarks of the saint.[3] While that name is also applied to Zeus faber, a marine fish not found in the area, one tilapia (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus) is known to be found in Sea of Galilee where the account took place. This particular species is known to have been the target of small-scale artisanal fisheries in the area for thousands of years.[4][5] In some Asian countries including the Philippines, large tilapia are often referred to as pla-pla while their smaller brethren are still referred to as tilapia.[6]In Hebrew, tilapia are called amnon (אמנון). In Arabic, tilapia are called bolty (بلطي ).[citation needed]