Lakeway Tilapia - The tilapia farming experts.

Tilapia fingerlings

Raised by Lakeway Tilapia

Call Lakeway Tilapia at (865) 262-8289 today!

Tilapia fingerlings and tilapia breeding colonies

Understand what you are buying!

We strongly recommend that you read our sections on Fingerling Grading and Tilapia Fingerlings to help you fully understand your choices.

Tilapia fingerlings are not created equally! Thirty days after they are hatched, our fingerlings are evaluated and graded according to their individual rates of growth. When you buy tilapia fingerlings from Lakeway Tilapia, you can choose from three different grades to suit your needs. We are the only hatchery that offers graded tilapia fingerlings to both commercial and non-commercial farmers.

Why buy from Lakeway Tilapia?

Free replacement for 30 days available! Even if you kill them on purpose!*
We only offer tilapia that have been raised in our own hatcheries.
We do not "source" our tilapia from the Great Lakes or Florida.
Lifetime expert technical support with all tilapia purchases.
Guaranteed live arrival without conditional requirements.
Free shipping on everything - we pay all costs!
We've got the lowest final prices by far.

A commitment to tilapia purity

Our tilapia fingerlings are raised indoors, away from disease-carrying insects, birds and rodents. The plastics used in our hatchery are white, food-grade and BPA free. We keep our breeding colonies and fingerlings in glass enclosures and employ the use of ultraviolet sterilizers to keep their environment sanitary. Our water is sourced from our own deep wells and is tested for purity before being introduced to our tilapia. We do not use hormones or give genetically modified food to our fingerlings. We feed a diet that includes organic Spirulina and high quality aquatic plants. And of course, all of our tilapia are independently inspected to be disease free.

No hormones

Think hormone use is rare? Think again. The state of New Mexico actually requires that all fish be treated with testosterone! Under the FDA, tilapia producers are not required to disclose hormone usage. However, it is a federal crime to ship fish after making false statements about hormones, so the companies that use them just don't talk about it. Lakeway Tilapia does not use hormones of any kind at any time. Our tilapia are 100% natural.

No imported or diseased tilapia fingerlings

You would be amazed at how many of the websites offering tilapia fingerlings don't possess an aquarium or raise any fish. Even top ranking websites that promote themselves as veritable tilapia stations are actually just re-shipping tilapia that were acquired elsewhere. You might also be surprised to learn that none of the aquaponics dealers on the Internet raise their own fish. Not a single one. At first you might think that it's no big deal, but it is and it can make you sick.

In November of 2018, the US Government began prosecuting tilapia dealers under the Lacey Act at the request of state officials who were fed up with the spread of potentially diseased tilapia. The Lacey Act is a 119 year old piece of legislation that regulates the trade of wildlife, fish and plants. Deadly diseases such as Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, found primarily in the Great Lakes region as well as toxic algae and deadly bacteria stirred up by hurricanes cutting through Florida's swamps are of primary concern. The reason why Lakeway Tilapia is licensed in or able to ship to places like Illinois, California, Hawaii and Alaska is due in no small part to the traceability of our tilapia back to our own sanitary hatcheries.

No stunted fingerlings

Under perfect conditions, tilapia fingerlings begin life growing at a maximum rate of 20% of their body weight every 24 hours. For the first 42 days that explosive growth will rapidly decrease down to about four percent. Normally, this steep drop in daily growth starts to flatten out so that by day 75 they are still growing at around three percent. On the 98th day, their growth rate levels off at about 1.5% per day where it remains for another 142 days. This completes the 240 day period of accelerated growth, after which the daily size increase drops to a point that can only be measured in months.

It is important to understand that these growth rates are on a "genetic timer" coded into the DNA of every tilapia and have nothing to do with the current size of the tilapia. A three month old fingerling is going to grow at a maximum rate of 1.5% per day even if it is still only an inch long due to stunting, instead of the six inches that are possible. This is why the first 42 days in the life of a tilapia fingerling are so important. Any stunting that occurs during this time will cascade throughout its entire life and cannot be recovered.

Stunting can be caused by poor conditions in a hatchery, usually by water temperatures outside the 80-88℉ range common in green houses. However, cramped conditions, lack of proper nutrition, chemical damage from city water supplies, improper use of acids to adjust pH and low dissolved oxygen content can all stunt tilapia fingerlings.

Thanks to our high volume and proprietary grading techniques, we are never forced to "hold" our fingerlings in limbo, squandering their accelerated growth. We ship our un-graded tilapia when they are between 10 and 12 days old and our graded tilapia when they are between 30 and 40 days old. In other words, every single tilapia that leaves our hatchery has been raised under perfect conditions and is growing at its own maximum genetic rate.

No fingerling word games

As you look around the Internet, check out the sizes of the fish being sold as "tilapia fingerlings" and you'll see a lot of ⅜ and ½ fractions being used. Some sites even add a bit of eye-candy by giving a size range of ⅜ to 1 inch or ½ to 1½ inches and one site even reads "up to" 3 inches long, but the "up to" part includes every other size down to ¼ of an inch according to the fine print. These same sites claim that a foot long tilapia weighs six pounds (actually about one pound) and that tilapia are filter-feeders that can sift phytoplankton out of the water column like a clam. It's all nonsense written by people who have never actually farmed tilapia or raised one to maturity.

Remember, the size of tilapia fingerlings does not tell you anything about it. A stunted fish at three months old can be the same size as a properly raised fish at one month old.

The only accurate way to judge tilapia fingerlings is by weight at an exact age. After 40 days of growth any tilapia that weighs one gram or more has graduated to fingerling status. The same goes for tilapia that weigh 750 milligrams within the first 30 days of life. Fish at this stage have working fins (they can swim backwards), true scales, developed guts and they have reproductive organs. Everything else is a tilapia fry. So how long is a 750 milligram or a one gram fingerling? Well, from their top lip to the tip of their tail the average in our hatchery is from ⅞ to 1¼ depending on where in the 30 to 40 day grading range that they are at the time.

Pure strain Blue tilapia for sale

From the River Jordan in the Middle East to the Lower Nile River in Africa, Blue tilapia have been fished and farmed for thousands of years. In South Africa, it is called a Blue Kurper, and in the north you might hear it referred to as an Israeli Tilapia. However, around the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), it is best known as St. Peter's Fish, named after the Bible story of Apostle Peter, who was instructed by Jesus to look into the mouth of the first fish that he caught for a coin to pay the temple tax. We are very proud of the fact that we have obtained genetically pure lines of this culturally significant fish.

Blue tilapia is one of only two species that make economic sense for fish farms in most of the United States. Due to their excellent cold water tolerance, down to 47º, Blue tilapia require less energy to keep warm, saving money for the tilapia farmer.

Live pure strain Blue tilapia for sale.
Scientific name: Oreochromis aureus
Water type: Fresh or slightly brackish.
Normal temperature range: 60º F to 86º F
Maximum temperature: 106º F
Minimum temperature: 47º F
Minimum breeding temperature: 68º F
Normal breeding temperature: 80º F
Optimal breeding pH level: 8.0
Feed: Algae discs, Purina Aquamax or duckweed.
Largest on record: 24" at 9.6 pounds.

Pure strain Blue tilapia fingerlings

We offer three grades of Blue tilapia as well as un-graded. All graded tilapia are shipped when they are between 30 and 40 days after hatching for accurate grow-out results.

We sell 10 tilapia for as low as $29 with free shipping! Be sure to explore each drop down list to find the quantity and price that's right for you.

Food Grade Tilapia®

Our organically raised Blue food grade tilapia fingerlings are ready for grow-out. They are between 30 and 40 days old and average about one gram in weight. They will grow to over one pound and will be ready for harvesting in approximately seven months. As a result of the grading process, our food grade fingerlings are predominantly male. Food grade Blue fingerlings™ can also be used in aquaponics systems however their faster growth rate may result in greater fish waste which may require additional filtration depending on your system design.

Food Grade Blue tilapia™ fingerlings with 30 day replacement plan* and free shipping
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia fingerlings.

Food Grade Blue tilapia fingerlings with free shipping
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia fingerlings.

Aquaponics Grade

Aquaponics grade tilapia have been specifically selected for aquaponics systems of all types. The primary benefit of aquaponics grade is their staggered growth rate which helps to maintain steady ammonia levels to feed nitrifying bacteria colonies for healthy plant growth. Select the largest tilapia for weekly harvest leaving the rest to drive plant growth. Aquaponics grade may also reduce or eliminate the need for additional fish waste removal depending upon the design of your system. Our grading process results in a fairly even mix of male and female tilapia.

Aquaponics Grade Blue tilapia with free shipping
Expect an average fish length of ½ to one inch.
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia fingerlings.
 

Aquaponics point: You can put 73 pounds of tilapia in a 275 gallon IBC tote and 88 pounds in a 330 gallon tote. You'll find quantities of 70 and 85 tilapia, intended for these tote sizes, in the drop down lists above.


Pond Grade

Pond grade are specifically selected for use as algae control in open water ponds and lakes. These tilapia are not recommended for food production or aquaponics systems. Their smaller size and slower growth rate means that nuisance vegetation such as algae, water meal and duckweed will remain as their primary dietary choice for much longer. We recommend 1000 pond grade tilapia per surface acre for algae eradication. If you intend to stock tilapia for the purpose of sport fishing, we recommended that you select our un-graded tilapia instead.

Pond Grade Blue tilapia with free shipping
Expect an average fish length of under ½ of an inch.
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia fingerlings.
 

Un-graded pure strain Blue tilapia

If you read nothing else, read this: Our un-graded tilapia are a pure strain version of exactly what everybody else is selling. The only other difference is that ours have a known hatch date of between 10 to 12 days, which guarantees that there are no stunted fish. We ship un-graded in the order received and can get them to you as quickly as anyone else for a lot less money.

Our un-graded Blue tilapia are 10 to 12 days old and between ¼ and ½ inches long. Because they have not been graded, they will result in approximately 30% food grade, 40% aquaponics grade, and 30% pond grade tilapia. Our un-graded tilapia are preferred for stocking ponds and lakes for sport fishing and may be used for algae eradication. They also provide a "full genetics package" for creating breeding colonies and an excellent way of introducing fresh genetic material to reduce inbreeding in existing ponds.

Un-graded Blue tilapia can also be used in aquaponics systems provided that a 1/16th inch screening is provided to prevent them from schooling into pumps and outlets. A good strategy for using un-graded in aquaponics would be to purchase 30% more than you actually need. After three to four weeks dispose of the smallest 30%, essentially removing the pond grade. This results in a mix that is 57% aquaponics grade and 43% food grade.

When it comes to un-graded tilapia, don't put any value in size. Without knowing the age of the fish, a two inch fingerling might be a stunted five month old. If properly kept, our un-graded Blue tilapia will grow to a size of between ¾ and 2 inches within 28 days.

Un-Graded Blue tilapia with free shipping
Expect a fish length of between ¼ and ½ of an inch.
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia fish.
 

Pure strain Blue tilapia breeding colonies

A blue tilapia breeding colony is more of a service than a product. After all, the fish themselves are only worth about $2 each and the shipping is included in the price. So what are you actually paying for? Well, you are paying for us to raise tilapia fingerlings for several weeks to juvenile size then sexing those fish and putting them together to form a breeding colony. But we don't stop there.

Our biologist carefully observes your colony for a few days to ensure that they all display the proper breeding behavior. We make sure that your male is aggressive and that your females aren't. An alpha female or wimpy male will ruin a colony so if necessary we will continue to swap out members of your colony until were absolutely satisfied that you have an actively breeding colony.

So there you have it. You're paying $12 for six tilapia, about $108 for shipping and packaging and hiring an expert to ensure that they will actually breed for $200. Of course, all of our breeding colonies consist of one male and five females.

The prices below include free shipping

Pure strain Blue tilapia breeding colonies
Free shipping on pure strain blue tilapia breeding colonies.
 

Important point: We get asked from time to time about colonies consisting of two males and four females. Two breeding males, if they both possess the propensity to spawn, will focus on killing each other until one is dead. In nature, only the alpha male gets to pass on his genetic material. Our only response to a breeding colony that consists of 2 males and 4 females is that one (or both) of the males is just a submissive male taking up space and possibly even interrupting breeding. Please read our tilapia breeding guide for more information.

Save big on DIY breeding colonies

If you've read our tilapia breeding guide and our page on how to sex tilapia, and you would like to try your hand at creating your own breeding colonies, consider buying 100 of our pure strain un-graded Blue tilapia for only $128. You'll have enough fish to make up to five or six colonies. Combined with our lifetime technical support, your chances for success are about as good as they can get.

Pure strain Nile tilapia for sale

Nile tilapia have been farmed in ponds for at least three thousand four hundred years. We know this because of wall paintings found in the tomb of Nebamun, a wealthy Egyptian, dating back to 1350 BC. As the name suggests, Nile tilapia are native to the relatively warm and shallow waters of the Nile River and its tributaries. Tilapia are farmed more than any other fish in the world and the vast majority are Nile. However, this popularity has more to do with the conditions of fish farms in Africa and China than any consumer choice. Due to the average temperatures in the United States, Nile tilapia are only suggested for indoor ponds or for tilapia farming along the gulf coast and the Florida peninsula.

One big advantage that Nile tilapia have over every other farmed species is an excellent tolerance to low dissolved oxygen content. Nile tilapia can survive in a low oxygen environment down to 3 ppm, whereas Blue tilapia prefer dissolved oxygen levels closer to 7 ppm. This makes them excellent candidates for farming in earthen ponds with lots of decomposing organic material and oxygen consuming phytoplankton.

Live pure strain Nile tilapia for sale.
Scientific name: Oreochromis nilotilcus
Water type: Fresh or slightly brackish.
Normal temperature range: 70º F to 91º F
Maximum temperature: 108º F
Minimum temperature: 60º F
Minimum breeding temperature: 68º F
Breeding temperature: 80º F
Optimal breeding pH level: 8.0
Feed: Algae discs, Purina Aquamax or duckweed.
 

Educate Yourself: There is no such thing as a pure strain "White Nile" or a pure strain "Red Nile". These are both improperly named hybrid mixes of multiple species. Have a look at our tilapia farming myths page for more information and other fun facts. The Nile tilapia that we raise are the result of millions of years of evolution. They are pure strain and provide very predictable results.

Pure strain Nile tilapia fingerlings

Nile tilapia come in three grades: as food grade tilapia fingerlings, as aquaponics grade and as pond grade. All three grades leave our hatchery when they are between 30 and 40 days old. This prevents additional handling and overcrowding that leads to stunted growth. We do not offer randomly netted fingerlings or tilapia that are older than 40 days.

We sell 10 tilapia for as low as $29 with free shipping! Be sure to explore each drop down list to find the quantity and price that's right for you.

Food Grade Tilapia

Our pure strain Nile food grade tilapia fingerlings weight about one gram on average. Like all of our food grade fingerlings, they will be ready for harvest in about seven months. These fingerlings are mostly male due to our proprietary grading methods. Food grade Nile fingerlings™ can also be used in an aquaponics system but the amount of wastes created by their faster growth will probably require additional filtration. Of course, this will depend entirely upon the design of your system.

Food grade Nile tilapia™ fingerlings with 30 day replacement plan* and free shipping
Free shipping on pure strain Nile tilapia fingerlings.

Food grade Nile tilapia fingerlings with free shipping
Free shipping on pure strain Nile tilapia fingerlings.

Aquaponics Grade

If you're putting your tilapia into an aquaponics system, then our aquaponics grade is the best choice. Your nitrifying bacteria needs the ammonia produced by your fish. The trick is getting a steady supply of ammonia as the fish grow and then get removed. With our aquaponics grade your tilapia will grow to harvest size at different times, so you can take a few each week, without starving your nitrifying bacteria. Many people discover that swirl filters and settling tanks handle fish wastes easier with aquaponics grade too. If you would like to perpetuate your tilapia for several generations, aquaponics grade provides a fairly even mixture of male and female tilapia for creating breeding colonies.

Aquaponics grade Nile tilapia with free shipping
Expect an average fish length of ½ to one inch.
Free shipping on pure strain Nile tilapia fingerlings.

Pond Grade

About a month after they are hatched, we grade our tilapia fingerlings into three different growth rates. The smallest of which is the pond grade. While most of their siblings are in the ¾ to 1¼ range, the pond grade are still growing to ½ of an inch. They are old enough to have grown into tilapia fingerlings, but genetically, they are the slow growers. In the tilapia farming world, these little fish are usually discarded, but we discovered a use for them as pond cleaners. Of course in the open water of a pond or lake, with a virtually unlimited supply of algae, they will eventually grow into heavyweight fighters, but that could take a while. In the meantime, they will munch away on algae, watermeal and duckweed keeping the water clear for everyone to enjoy.

To determine the quantity of pond grade tilapia that you need to control algae, calculate the number of surface acres that are affected by algae, watermeal and/or duckweed and add 1000 fish per acre.

Pond grade Nile tilapia with free shipping
Expect an average fish length of under ½ of an inch.
Free shipping on pure strain Nile tilapia fingerlings.
 

Un-graded pure strain Nile tilapia

Our un-graded Nile tilapia are between ¼ of an inch ½ of an inch long and 10 to 12 days old. They are too young to be graded. However, in about three weeks there will be a very apparent size difference between the largest fingerlings and the smallest. At this point you can remove the smallest ⅓ and you will have a nice mix of males and females for an aquaponics system or discard the smallest 70% and you will be left with predominantly-male tilapia fingerlings perfect for tilapia farming. This technique can also be used with our un-graded pure strain Blue tilapia.

Un-graded Nile tilapia with free shipping
Expect a fish length of between ¼ of an inch ½ of an inch.
Free shipping on pure strain Nile tilapia fry.
 

Pure strain Nile tilapia breeding colonies

If you've already read the description for our Blue tilapia breeding colonies, you can apply that information to our Nile colonies too.

The prices below include free shipping

Pure strain Nile tilapia breeding colonies
Free shipping on pure strain nile tilapia breeding colonies.
 

Pro tip: To extend the productive life of a tilapia breeding colony, stunt the growth of the fish by feeding them as little as possible. Breeding tilapia are very territorial and the larger they get, the more space they will require. Read more on our tilapia breeding guide.

 

Orange Mozambique tilapia for sale

Orange Mozambique tilapia fingerlings

Orange Mozambique have been around for a few decades, but access to them has always been very limited. The original Orange Mozambique was created by crossing an extremely rare albino Mozambique with a common natural colored Mozambique. The resulting orange color was a complete surprise, but an even greater surprise was the fact that the orange color was exhibited in all of their offspring, as well as subsequent generations, with very little fallback to their natural colors.

For years, the Orange Mozambique tilapia have been crossed with the pure strain Wami to create the Wami Hybrid which has gone by several different names. Eventually, a farmer in Hawaii would cross a Wami Hybrid male back to its Orange Mozambique mother resulting in a new color hybrid, known today as the Hawaiian Gold.

The reason for their former scarcity had to do with contractual agreements between the individual who created the first Orange Mozambique and the farms that stocked their tilapia. A practice that doomed the company as well as the farms when the original creator was no longer around to breed the fish. The Orange Mozambique was on the verge of becoming lost forever, but in 2018 Lakeway Tilapia became the first tilapia hatchery to re-introduce the Orange Mozambique to the world with mixed-sex fingerlings. No more contracts or non-compete agreements with which to contend.

So what are Orange Mozambique tilapia good for? Well, when they are crossed with a Wami, the resulting hybrid offspring are always predominantly male. Their unusual color can be considered by some as "pretty", so they may give your aquaponics system that "Koi pond" look. They are also the third fastest growing species of Tilapia, so they can be readily farmed. A nice all-around tilapia species.

Please note that we only offer the Orange Mozambique tilapia as un-graded. Your order will be carefully selected from several non-related broods. They will be a mix of ages and sexes. In other words, you might get a few tilapia that have grown to one inch in 50 days, a few that have grown to one half inch in 20 days, and everything in between. We are doing this because the primary buyer for Orange Mozambique are breeders looking for a high level of genetic diversity.

Orange Mozambique tilapia fingerlings with free shipping.

Orange Mozambique are not graded but are at least 30 days old.
Expect fish sizes from ½ and up.
Free shipping on Orange Mozambique tilapia.
 

Wami tilapia for sale

Wami tilapia fingerlings

Wami tilapia are arguably the most elusive of the tilapia species in the US. This is because it is a relatively poor performer for farming purposes. Wami males are primarily used in hybrid breeding programs to unlock "hybrid vigor" when crossed with female Nile or Orange Mozambique tilapia. Additionally, when Wami males are crossed with Nile or Orange Mozambique females the resulting offspring will primarily develop as male. Other combinations such as female Wami with Nile or Orange Mozambique male will not result in predominately male offspring. Also any gender combination of Blue and Wami will not bring about any beneficial result or hybrid vigor.

Our Wami tilapia have been improved with persistent culling and breeding for traits. They are not a "straight from the African continent" type strain. Wild caught Wami are very aggressive and nearly impossible to breed in captivity, let alone hybridize.

Advisory message: The supply of Wami and Wami Hybrids can be limited from time to time. Please call 865-262-8289 for availability before ordering.

Wami tilapia fingerlings with free shipping.

Wami tilapia fingerlings are over 30 days old and un-graded.
Expect fish sizes of ½ inch and longer.
Free shipping on Wami tilapia.
 

Wami hybrid tilapia for sale

This tilapia hybrid is the result of crossing an Orange Mozambique (Oreochromis mossambicus) with a Wami (Oreochromis urolepis hornorum) tilapia, both of which have been selectively bred for their body shape. Due to the genetics of their Wami father, which affects their natural levels of testosterone, these hybrids develop naturally as predominantly-male tilapia fingerlings.

Live Wami hybrid tilapia for sale.
Scientific: Oreochromis urolepis hornorum
Water type: Fresh or Brackish.
Normal temperature range: 70º F to 96º F
Maximum temperature: 106º F
Minimum temperature: 60º F
Minimum breeding temperature: 68º F
Breeding temperature: 80º F
Optimal breeding pH level: 8.0
Feed: Purina Aquamax.

Wami hybrid tilapia fingerlings and fry

Our Wami hybrid tilapia can range in sizes from a ½ inch fry to an 1½ inch long fingerling. In commercial aquaculture systems where oxygen levels and other environmental parameters are constantly monitored and controlled, Wami hybrids can grow to 20 ounces in as little as 120 days or up to 32 ounces in 34 weeks. Our Wami hybrid tilapia fingerlings are predominantly-male. While there is a growing interest in small numbers of Wami hybrid fingerlings by home tilapia farmers and aquaponic growers, they are primarily produced for our commercial customers.

Wami hybrid tilapia fingerlings with free shipping
Wami hybrids are not graded. Expect a fish length of between ½ to 1½ inches.
Free shipping on Wami hybrid tilapia fingerlings.
 

How to acclimate new tilapia

Every week, we get calls from anxious new aquaculturists asking how their tilapia will be shipped, and if there is anything that they should do when their fish arrive. We put this video together to show you what to expect, and how to acclimate your new tilapia to their new environment.

Video note: This video represents just one shipping method. Specific instructions for the shipping method used for your order will be emailed to you.