Tilapia In Aquariums
One of the reasons Tilapia is such a popular fish among fish farmers worldwide is that it is a sturdy and adaptable fish that will eat almost anything. These traits also make it an excellent aquarium fish, provided the aquarium is large enough. many Tilapia species can be kept by even beginner aquarists. Tilapia can also be kept in outdoor ponds, but most species are sensitive to cold and can only be housed outdoors during the warmest months of the year, aside from those living in the tropics.
may different species of Tilapia have been successfully kept by aquarists, but the most commonly kept species are Zebra/Tiger Tilapia (Tilapia buttidoferi), and Spotted Tilapia (Tilapia mariae). In order to create the perfect aquarium for your tilapia you need to find out more about the natural habitat of the specific species you're interested in. It is impossible to provide general guidelines that would be true for all types of Tilapia. It's also very important to learn about the particular type of Tilapia's temperament and and maximal size.
Small Tilapia can be housed in 40 gallon aquariums, while larger Tilapia will require at least 70 gallon aquariums. It is also important to keep in mind that it is more difficult to keep the water quality up in a small aquarium that a big one. A skilled aquarist might be able to house Tilapia in a fairly small aquarium, but if you are a beginner, it's best to opt for a larger tank.
Using plants in a Tilapia aquarium can become problematic in that many species of Tilapia eat plants, and these fishes are known to be fond of digging. It is therefore common to use rocks, roots and similar types of aquarium decoration to create hiding spots for Tilapia. Cover the bottom with gravel and sand, and ideally include flat rocks in the set up. If you are willing to risk the life of a few plants, your Tilapia will greatly appreciate it. Choose hardy and inexpensive plants, and over their roots with rocks to help prevent digging. Example son plant types that have been sucessfully kept with tilapia in aquariums are Java Fern, Anubias, Crinum, and some Cryptocoryne species.
Several Tilapia can be housed together, but they are territorial, especially during the breeding period. It is there for a good idea to create natural boders in the aquarium. Tilapias of the genus Tilapia tend to be more territorial than the members of the genera Sarotherodon and Oreochromis. (These fishes are still referred to as Tilapias for historical reasons) Sarotherodon and Oreochromis species will often live in schools, and are therefor less territorial.
Quite a few Tilapia species might eat small fish in the aquarium, so are not suitable tank mates for such fishes. Tilapias can instead be combined with catfish, barbs, and semi-aggressive cichlids. (All Tilapias belong to the cichlid family.)
As mentioned above, most Tilapias are sturdy and highly adaptable. When it comes to water values, they are known to acclimatize themselves to most conditions as long at you avoid extremes. Most species will tolerate both acidic and alkaline waters (pH 6-8) and will stay happy as long as the water temperature exceeds 74 degrees F. poor water quality will make the fish more prone to illness.
*This information courtesy of the Aquatic Community*