Tilapia Water Temperature Requirements in Aquaponics

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on February 3, 2023

Tilapia water temperature requirements in aquaponics are an essential aspect of rearing healthy and vibrant fish.  Tilapia is one of the most famous and much-loved fish among aquaponics farmers. They are pretty forgiving when it comes to adaptation generally. However, the temperature requirements of the fish are pretty demanding because they are temperature sensitive.

Tilapia is a warm water fish. When it comes to using tilapia for your aquaponics setup, you need to be aware of tilapia temperature requirements in your aquaponics system. This way, you will enjoy a fantastic growth of tilapia, a reasonable production rate, and a smooth maintenance aquaponics system.

In this post, we will explore tilapia water temperature requirements so read on to learn.

What Are Tilapia Temperature Requirements?

Firstly, you should know tilapia fish is very tolerant of environmental conditions. They can adapt to a poor or substandard water quality environment. They are not food selective and they can feed on nearly anything edible.  But they are very sensitive when it comes to temperature.

The ideal temperature for tilapia is in the range of 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most tilapia fish are temperature sensitive and if the water temperature in your aquaponics drops to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, they will be stressed and the growth of your tilapia fish will depreciate. Now, if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your tilapia fish metabolism will be super slow and the survival rate may be pretty low if the issue is not fixed quickly.

What are Tilapia Temperature Requirements

If the temperature then falls below 40 or even 30 degrees Fahrenheit that will be a terrible time for your tilapia fish and they will most likely die.

The stress caused by temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit leads to a loss of disease resistance thus exposing or leading to tilapia infection caused by fungi, bacteria, and other pathogens that may be present in the water.

Therefore, ensure you always keep the temperature of the water in your aquaponics system in the right range for your tilapia fish.

Tilapia fish originated from Africa or tropical regions, and as such have warm temperature requirements. Therefore, in other cooler regions, especially in the winter months, you must adjust the tilapia fish’ environment temperature to suit their requirements.

Dealing With Tilapia in Colder Regions

For all-year-round tilapia fish aquaponics systems, recirculating indoor systems are ideal. This is because, in recirculating aquaculture systems, the water or environmental temperatures can be manipulated to suit the needs of the fish that is being grown. It is unlike in natural systems where the fish has to adapt to the environment.

The advantage of adjusting water temperature in recirculating aquaculture systems had additional benefits that may not be immediately apparent. The ideal water temperature in the system will help promote fish growth and feed utilization. In this way, you will get well-growing fish and not waste money on fish feed that is not being well utilized.

LUYS Aquarium Heater, Upgraded 300W/500W Fish Tank Heater

You can also introduce an emergency heating just in case the climate snaps and gets you by surprise and you are unavailable or not close by. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to let the amazing aquaculture setup that you have nurtured for a good period go down the lane by just a snap of climatic change, would you?

However, if you do not wish to spend too much money on heat, you can simply opt for the breed of tilapia fish that can tolerate cold or simply go for trout fish, although trout is a bit more sensitive to poor water quality.

Learn How Many Tilapia Per Gallon For An Aquaponics System

Tilapia Water Temperature Adaptation With Cold Water

It is not uncommon to see tilapia fish adapt to their environment being that they are quite forgiving. There are various species of tilapia fish. From generation to generation, they might adapt and withstand temperature changes over time.

Some tilapia breeds have shown good tolerance to temperature changes. An example of cold-hardy tilapia species is the blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus). The blue tilapia can do well from 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, we recommend you opt for this type of species if you wish to raise tilapia in a cooler region.

Nonetheless, when kicking off with raising your tilapia fish, especially the ones that were mailed or given to you by anyone – ensure you maintain a warm temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Find out Where To Buy Fish For Aquaponics Systems

What is The Ideal Blue Tilapia Temperature Range?

Blue tilapia is a benthopelagic and potamodromous fish. It ideally prefers tropical climates but it is a fairly cold-tolerant fish. This fish has a wide temperature tolerance range of 46-86 degrees F. It is also tolerant to both freshwater and brackish waters.

How Cold Can Tilapia Survive?

Most tilapia species will survive temperatures below 68 degrees F. You can grow tilapia in these temperatures if you do not mind the reduced growth rates and poor feed utilization. You should however never keep tilapia in temperatures below 55 degrees F.

At much colder temperatures, tilapia as with other fish will become more susceptible to diseases and infections from opportunistic pathogens that may be present in the water. If the temperatures drop even lower, the fish will die.

Here are some of the low-temperature tolerance ranges of tilapia species:

  • Tilapia Sparrminii (banded tilapia) – 42-44 degrees F
  • Oreochromis Mozambique (Mozambique tilapia) – 45 degrees F
  • Tilapia rendalli (Redbreast tilapia) – 53-55 degrees F
  • Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia) – 53-55 degrees F

The most cold-tolerant tilapia that is known is the vlei kurper, Tilapia sparrmanii, a dwarf tilapia that naturally occurs in the Orange River north and eastward of the Kwazulu Natal Province of South Africa. This tilapia can tolerate temperatures as low as 42 degrees F.

The resilience of tilapia allows them to be cultivated in a wide variety of climates, including those with cooler temperatures. Fish farmers and breeders need to consider the cold temperature tolerance of the tilapia species that they are growing. It is also best to keep all other environmental conditions to minimize the stress that fish are exposed to.  Although growing tilapia in colder climates is challenging, it is possible. 

How Hot is Too Hot For Tilapia?

Tilapia are warm water fish, but just like all other fish,  have an upper tolerance limit or a maximum temperature that they cannot withstand. If they are exposed to these temperatures, especially for long periods the fish will be negatively affected and may eventually even die.

To get good production from tilapia, you must keep your temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees F. These temperatures will give you the best production. 

Temperatures higher than these will lead to slow growth, reduced feeding efficiency, and increased mortalities.

Conclusion – Tilapia Water Temperature Requirements In Aquaponics

Tilapia water temperature suitability has a wide range, making these fish easy to cultivate in a variety of climates. As we have pointed out, tilapia species are warm fish. The conclusion is that the ideal temperature requirements of tilapia range from 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 50 degrees are fatal for your tilapia fish. Temperatures matter a lot when it comes to raising tilapia fish. So if you wish to enjoy optimal growth and a smooth aquaponics system, get the temperature right.

So, we can see that raising tilapia fish in a colder region is not impossible, although tricky.  You just have to go for the appropriate tolerant species like the blue tilapia. This is because they can withstand temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you can simply create a comfortable environment for your warm loving tilapia by making use of the indoor recirculating aquaponics system. This can save heat for your tilapia fish during the cold season.

We also recommend you have a backup or emergency heater so climatic change doesn’t meet you or your tilapia by surprise.


What temperature does tilapia need to grow?

Depends on how old they are. If they're a year old or more, you should be fine with a slightly warmer tank. However, if they're only a few months old, you'll want to be careful and keep the water at around 80-85F (27-29C).
An adult tilapia will eat food every 2-3 hours. Tilapia are a long-living fish, but not as long-lived as other species. Their lifespan is estimated at up to 15 years in captivity. ATilapia are very easy to breed. They are extremely fertile and can easily produce hundreds of offspring.

Are tilapia good in aquaponics?

Yes, they are fine. They have a lot of benefits when compared to other fish. One benefit is that they don't require much space. You can buy them from any pet store or online. They are also relatively cheap. 

Tilapia doesn't require any special care and it's not too picky about its water. It will survive in almost any condition. Tilapia is an ideal fish for an aquaponics system as it will grow well on a plant-based diet.

What temperature kills tilapia?

It is safe for tilapia to be raised at temperatures up to 55°F above the water temperature.
Tilapia is an excellent fish for an aquaponic system. In a proper system, it will do very well. I would suggest that you have the tank filled with water and then add your fish.Tilapia are excellent for aquaculture because they’re hardy, fast growing and easy to raise. They’re also cheap to buy. Tilapia can be farmed by anyone and are popular in many different cultures. Tilapia farming can be carried out indoors or outdoors. You can also rear tilapia in tanks or ponds.

Can tilapia fish survive in cold water?

Tilapia can tolerate cold water and even live in water temperatures down to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
They are also very resilient, with the ability to withstand a wide range of salinity levels.

What is the desirable water quality for tilapia?

The ideal water quality for tilapia is free of bacteria and nitrate. Bacteria are naturally present in water. They are normally harmless to fish, but if the water contains high levels of bacteria (such as when a reservoir or pond is over-fertilized), they can cause disease in fish.

Nitrate is a naturally occurring compound found in water that causes blue-green algae to grow in water containing too much nitrate. Blue-green algae are very toxic to fish and may even kill them. Nitrates can also be an issue in lakes, ponds and streams. Most water testing services will do this for you. If you don't want to go through the hassle of sending your water to a lab, there are kits available that you can use at home. You can also get kits at your local sporting goods store or bait shop.

Sharing is caring!