Native to Africa and the Middle East, Oreochromis aureus, commonly known as blue tilapia, is a cichlid fish that has been widely introduced around the world to countries including the United States, Central and South America, southeast Asia, Polynesia and Africa as a low cost, high protein food source. Blue tilapia are hardy, tolerant of a wide range of temperatures (8-30 degrees C), salinities and water qualities, and easy to rear in aquaculture (for this they are sometimes referred to as the “aquatic chicken”). However, this species is also aggressive and dominates other species in non-native environments; in many places, populations that have escaped and become established are difficult to manage and have caused displacement and decline of endemic species as well as significant disruption of fish ecosystems. The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) has declared O. aureus one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. (Global Invasive Species Database, Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) a; Global Invasive Species Database, Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) b; Wikipedia 2012)
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