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Species: Sarotherodon melanotheron, Blackchin Tilapia

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

chin black, head irregular black blotches
corner operculum dark blotch
male: operculum gold blotch

Sarotherodon melanotheron Ruppell, 1852

Blackchin Tilapia

Body an elongate oblong; wide between the eyes; 1 pair of nostrils; mouth small, not reaching under eye; top jaw highly protrusible; teeth fine, close set, in 3-6 rows on jaws, with spoon-shaped points, outer row readily movable, outer row of top jaw 46-100 2-pointed teeth, inner jaw teeth 3-pointed; toothed throat apparatus: lower plate distinctly longer than wide, bottom keel considerably longer than depth of triangular toothed surface, with fine teeth, those with 2 points; gill rakers simple, very small, lower rakers 12-19; intestine long and coiled, at least 4x SL; one dorsal fin XV-XVII, without a notch between spines and rays, 10-12; anal fin III, 8-10; lateral line in 2 straight overlapping sections, with ~27-29 large scales; scales between pectoral and pelvic fins grade gradually in size with slightly larger flank scales; genital papilla of both sexes small and simple.

Ground color pale blue; each scale with a darker or gold spot on its base; several rows of scales on back are iridescent yellow; adults with lower head black, irregular black spots on rest of head, on edge of gill cover, and a few on flanks; black edge to dorsal, anal and tail fins, females with translucent gill cover; large males with metallic gold blotch gill cover, black underside of head, often black bars on side; juveniles with spot at base of front dorsal fin soft rays.

Reaches 35 cm.

Mainly in estuaries and lagoons, mangroves, in fresh to salt water; forms schools, mainly nocturnal; form pairs for the duration of the breeding cycle, when males brood eggs in the mouth.

Depth: 0-50 m.

A W African species introduced to the southern USA and Puerto Rico.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Near Bottom
  • Soft bottom only
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mangrove
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Omnivore
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Exotic (Introduced)
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 35
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 50