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Tilapia: the most Brazilian of foreign fish species

A large number of Brazilians are certain that tilapia is a strictly native species, but it's actually African. Regardless, it has become the dominant force in Brazilian fish farming

Tilapia: the most Brazilian of foreign fish species
Tilapia farm in countryside Brazil. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

With tasty flesh, few bones, and low in fat and calories, tilapia fish has adapted so well to Brazilian waters and dinner tables that the majority of the population are unaware it is not a native species. 

In fact, the freshwater fish originated in the River Nile and was first farmed in Kenya in the 1920s. From the 1950s onward, it progressively gained market share and is now the second-most exploited fish species in the world, behind carp.

In Brazil, the farming of tilapia in ponds, dams, and reservoirs is a prominent part of the country’s aquaculture. As the fish...

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