Some species, including Tilapia buttikoferi, Tilapia rendalli, Tilapia mariae, Tilapia joka and the brackish water Sarotherodon melanotheron melanotheron, have attractive patterns and are quite decorative.The tilapiines of North Africa are the most important commercial cichlids.
Because of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability, tilapiine cichlids are the focus of major farming efforts, specifically various species of Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia, collectively known colloquially as tilapia.
Like other large fish, they are a good source of protein and popular among artisanal and commercial fisheries.
Their mouths are protrusible, usually bordered with wide and often swollen lips. Typically tilapia have a long dorsal fin, and a lateral line which often breaks towards the end of the dorsal fin, and starts again two or three rows of scales below. Other than their temperature sensitivity, tilapia exist in or can adapt to a very wide range of conditions.
One extreme example is the Salton Sea, where tilapia introduced when the water was brackish now live in saltwater so salty that it kills marine fish.
Tilapia is the fourth most consumed fish in the United States dating back to 2002.
The popularity of tilapia came about due to its low price, easy preparation, and its mild taste.
Like other cichlids, their lower pharyngeal bones are fused into a single tooth-bearing structure.
A complex set of muscles allows the upper and lower pharyngeal bones to be used as a second set of jaws for processing food (cf.
In Kenya tilapia were introduced to control mosquitoes which were causing malaria, because they consume mosquito larvae, consequently reducing the numbers of adult female mosquitoes, the vector of the disease.