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Tilapia ruweti – A Gem of a Fish from West Africa

Tilapia ruwetiI am not too fond of many tilapia species, for eating or keeping, but recently I find myself staring at a little guy we got in called Tilapia ruweti. Seems there isn’t a lot of information out there on this fish, which is starting to peak my curiosity. What I did find is that they come from the Congo Watershed, the Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe in West Africa.

So, now I’m contemplating a set-up to accommodate these interesting newcomers. I’d probably consider a 20 long for a pair. I am assuming that I’ll have to mimic conditions for stream fish of the same region, maintaining a pH of 7.0 and a low hardness. Décor should consist of fine to small gravel, some caves (in the form of small flowerpots) for breeding, and of course, other rocks and driftwood for fish to escape an angry male or female. I’m assuming they nibble on plants, so be wary and keep tough leaved plants if you insist on having them.

Diet should consist of veggie flakes, lettuce, sliced cucumbers, and occasionally a feeding of freeze-dried or frozen shrimp to ripen a female for spawning. The info I’ve read indicates that they get to about 4 inches in length, which is very manageable.  In our tanks these little 1 inch fellas take flake food like its going out of style, but it does any fish good to vary their diet as much as possible. I haven’t noticed any aggression in our holding tanks at all, so far. That being said, I haven’t found any outside observations on thier aggression levels, so that is something I’ll need to watch when they get comfortable in a tank at home.

I also can’t find anything on sexing these fish, but that won’t stop me from taking them home! I normally purchase 5 to 6 fish so they can pair up anyway, unless a pair is already apparent. Looking at the ones we have here, there seems to be a larger (inch and a quarter) male sporting a tan body with a white belly and a black dot at the base of the dorsal fin with irridescent blue Tilapia ruwetispots all over the body, and an irridescent blue lower jaw. Besides size, the reason I think the larger one is a male is that his pelvic and anal fins are black. On some of the smaller ones, these fins are clear with yellowish tint to the anal fin–coloration much like the female haps of Lake Victoria. Lets hope thats the case! I may have to get rid of my Cuban pair to make way for these magnificent little tilapia. Wish me luck!



One comment

  1. avatar

    Hallo Jose

    Thanxzzz for your inspiring articles! Being a aquarium freak from EVER I could remember, I currently have a 700LTR Tanganyika setup(1 of many tanks-even Pogycentrus Nattereri in a 1500LTR)), but your articles sparkt me to build a 110LTR Tanganyica aquarium for 5 Lamprologus Daffodil and 5 Altolamprologus Calvus…sorry, I wanted to comment on your Tilapia article…
    I would compare these little guys to the neolamprologus ocellatus of Tanganyica…small guys between all the big hunters of the open river waters!
    The few Tilapia species I came across, they seemed behaving like Frontosas…dominant male being the leader of a shoal. But as you said, MUCH less aggressive!

    As you can see I have got very little knowledge of the Tilapia and there for I thank you for sharing. Please keep us updated on your observations.

    Best Fishes from Namibia

About Jose Mendes

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That Fish Place’s resident “Cichlid Pro.” In addition to working at TFP for 13 years, Jose’s been breeding Cichlids for over 14 years and has produced over 200 different species. Jose is the man to question for everything cichlid. Check out Jose’s work in the article: Keeping and Breeding African Cichlids in Small Aquariums, and his many other contributions on cichlid husbandry, behavior, and his personal experiences with keeping cichlids from across the globe.