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Species: Coptodon zillii, Redbelly Tilapia

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body: 2 stripes + 8-9 bars
black spot on operculum
body & fins- pearl spots
D dark blotch front rays
male: dark bars, chin & belly reddish
lower gill rakers 8-10

Coptodon zillii (Gervais, 1848)

Redbelly Tilapia

Body an elongate oblong; head wider than body, profile straight, slightly oblique; 1 pair of nostrils; front profile above eyes convex; mouth large, nearly horizontal, top jaw highly protrusible; teeth fine, close set, in several rows on jaws, outer teeth 2-pointed, immovable or nearly so, inner row smaller, multipointed; toothed throat apparatus: lower plate broadly triangular, as wide as long, bottom keel shorter than depth of triangular toothed surface, rear teeth 3-pointed, central teeth not broadened; gill rakers simple, 4-7+ 8-12; one dorsal fin XIII, 10-14, without a notch between spines and rays; anal fin III, 8-10; scales large, smooth, lateral line in 2 straight overlapping sections, 19-22 + 8-12 (28-34) scales; cheek scales in 3-4 rows .

Olive, with a bluey sheen; lips green; body and tail base with 2 stripes crossed by 6-10 irregular dark bars, bases of scales without dark crescent marks; chest pinkish; dorsal, tail and anal fins olivaceus, with yellow spots, dorsal and anal fins with narrow orange outer edges; dorsal fin with a dark blotch surrounded by yellow spots on base of front soft rays in adults and juveniles; tail fin with a grey mesh separating pale blotches; large fish with a large blackish yellow-edged spot on upper rear corner of operculum. Breeding male: body olive green with dark bars; head blue-black with blue-green meshwork of lines; lower head, body and tail base blood red.

Reaches 47 cm.

Fresh and brackish water.

Depth range: 0-5 m.

Central and NW Africa; introduced to our area.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Non Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Omnivore
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Phytoplankton
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 47
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5