Oreochromis mossambicus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Cichlidae

Scientific Name: Oreochromis mossambicus
Species Authority: (Peters, 1852)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Mozambique Tilapia
Chromis dumerilii Steindachner, 1864
Chromis natalensis Weber, 1897
Chromis vorax Pfeffer, 1893
Tilapia arnoldi Gilchrist & Thompson, 1917

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Cambray, J. & Swartz, E.
Reviewer(s): Tweddle, D. (Freshwater Fish Red List Authority) & Darwall, W. (Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Unit)
Threatened by hybridization with the rapidly spreading Oreochromis niloticus. Oreochromis niloticus is being spread by anglers and for aquaculture. Hybridization is already occurring throughout the northern part of the species' range, with most of the evidence coming from the Limpopo River system. In terms of locations the threat of Oreochromis niloticus is widespread, but probably more than 50% of the locations are not yet affected. Given the rapid spread of O. niloticus it is anticipated that this species will qualify as threatened under Criterion A due to rapid population decline through hybridization. The species is therefore assessed as Near Threatened.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Lower Zambezi, Lower Shire and coastal plains from Zambezi delta to Algoa Bay. Occurs southwards to the Bushmans River in the eastern Cape and in the Transvaal in the Limpopo system (Skelton 2001). Widely dispersed beyond this range to inland regions and to the south west and west coastal rivers including the lower Orange and rivers of Namibia. Introduced to tropical and warm temperate localities throughout the world.
Countries occurrence:
Malawi; Mozambique; South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal); Swaziland; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Common and widespread through south eastern Africa.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in all but fast-flowing waters; thrives in standing waters. Further south in its range it is most common in blind estuaries and coastal lakes where it tolerates brackish and marine environments. Feeds on algae, especially diatoms, and detritus, large individuals also take insects and other invertebrates. Breeds in summer, females raising multiple broods every 3 to 4 weeks during a season. Males construct a saucer-shaped nest on sandy bottoms: the female mouthbroods the eggs, larvae and small fry. Juveniles shoal in shallow water. Prone to stunting under adverse or crowded conditions (Skelton 2001).
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, is invading its natural range in the Zambezi and Limpopo systems. Hybridisation is occurring in the Limpopo system and pure O. mossambicus are likely to become extirpated in those systems through competition and hybridisation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: River systems not yet invaded by Nile tilapia must be protected from deliberate and accidental introductions of that species.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.13. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Inland Deltas
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.14. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.15. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes and Flats
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.16. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.17. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools
suitability: Suitable  
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability: Suitable  
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.5. Marine Intertidal - Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses)
suitability: Marginal  
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.4. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes
suitability: Suitable  
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.5. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Freshwater Lakes
suitability: Suitable  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.1. Artificial/Aquatic - Water Storage Areas (over 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.2. Artificial/Aquatic - Ponds (below 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.3. Artificial/Aquatic - Aquaculture Ponds
suitability: Suitable  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.7. Artificial/Aquatic - Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels)
suitability: Marginal  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.8. Artificial/Aquatic - Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Land
suitability: Suitable  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.9. Artificial/Aquatic - Canals and Drainage Channels, Ditches
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Oreochromis niloticus)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.1. Hybridisation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Skelton, P.H. 2001. A Complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa.

Citation: Cambray, J. & Swartz, E. 2007. Oreochromis mossambicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63338A12659743. . Downloaded on 25 May 2016.
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