Angolan Tilapia – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Angolan Tilapia (Oreochromis angolensis) is one of the African freshwater fish used in aquaculture. The fish belongs to the Oreochromis genus which is part of the larger oreochromimine cichlids. It is endemic to both the Middle East and Africa although some species have been spread to other parts of the world.

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Their ideal habitat is freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, and similar habitats. Some of these fish can thrive best in brackish waters or even survive in highly saline conditions.

Their ideal water temperature varies from species to species although they can do better in elevated temperature conditions. Angolan Tilapia, in particular, is relatively large and can grow up to 8 inches depending on the environment it is growing in.

Angolan Tilapia Natural Habitat

Given that Angolan Tilapia belongs to the African cichlid family, its habitat is not different from other fish in this family. This is to say that they are rock dwellers. Their natural habitat provides them with very little hideaways in-between rocks and a few aquatic plants. This gives you an idea of how their tank environment should look like.

The tank must have some rocks to mimic their natural habitat. Ensure that the rocks are placed securely to prevent them from collapsing. This means that you need to look for aquarium-safe glue that you may use to hold the rocks together in one position.

Just like other freshwater cichlids, Angolan Tilapia are known to dig around where they are staying. So a substrate consisting of fine-grains would be a better option for them. This will prevent them from scratching their scales and injuring themselves.

Since they live in rivers and lakes, they are used to moving water. Meaning that their tank water should also be in constant motion.

A filter outlet system would be enough to help create some currents within the aquarium. At the same time, it should process water in the aquarium at least 3 to 5 times per hour.

Moderate lighting and some heat would also be necessary to help your fish enjoy their lives comfortably. You may use natural light or artificial light if the tank is indoors. The heater should come handy to help maintain water temperature throughout.

Under good living conditions, Angolan Tilapia can live up to 8 years. So make sure that you provide them with the right tank conditions. Take care of their needs such as keeping their habitat clean, providing proper diet, filtering water, and letting them coexist with the right tank mates.

Don’t forget to give them enough room to move around freely or avoid conflicts with other tank mates. Add a few native objects to make them feel at home. Aquatic plants like Anubias, Java fern, and Amazon Swords can help them feel relaxed in addition to providing them with a safe breeding ground.

Angolan Tilapia Fish Tank Requirements

Fish tank requirements depend solely on the species of your fish. Small-size fish would require small tanks and vice versa for relatively large-size fish.

Angolan Tilapia will do well in a larger tank. Considering the fact the fish grows to a relative big size, you should consider at least a 150 gallons tank for this fish.

For Angolan tilapia fry, you should get a 50 gallons tank, and move them to bigger tank as they grow.

Make sure to add an under gravel filter first before placing the substrate. Place 3 inches of gravel at the bottom of the aquarium to make an effective substrate for your fish.

Fill the tank with dechlorinated water up to halfway then add the beneficial bacteria to promote biological activities inside the tank.

Add the heater, thermometer, and other important aquaculture equipment. Put a few recommended aquatic plants, rocks, wood, and decor. These elements will provide your fish with enough hiding places to establish their own territory.

Provide a few cave structures in the aquarium to ensure that your Angolan Tilapia has enough hideouts. Finally, fill the rest of the space in the tank with water before adding the lights and hood.

Your tank should also have a well-established filtration system. In this case, you will need to use an efficient filter to facilitate water and air circulation in the tank. Your filter of choice must process the water 3 to 5 times in one hour to maintain water quality.

Angolan Tilapia Water Conditions

When keeping Angolan Tilapia, you must ensure that water conditions in the tank are similar to those in their natural habitat. Water temperature and the pH level should be just right for your fish to survive. Also, check the tank’s nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels regularly to ensure that the chemical balance in the water is just fine for them.

The ideal temperature for your Angolan Tilapia should range from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain this water temperature, you will have to look for an aquarium heater. A 5-watt heater per gallon of tank water will help you keep the temperature within the right range for your fish.

In their natural habitat, Angolan Tilapia prefer relatively hard water. So 4-6 dH tank water will make them comfortable.

In addition to that, the pH levels of between 7.8 and 8.6 should keep them healthy and active throughout. But don’t forget to change 10 percent of tank water weekly to maintain the right water conditions.

Angolan Tilapia Diet and Feeding Schedule

Angolan Tilapia eat different types of food in their native habitats. They thrive on a variety of plants, meat, and insects. Sometimes they eat algae to balance their diet. If you can get them these types of foods, they will enjoy them even in captivity.

In the tank, they will feel happy feeding on flake foods obtained from stores. You may add in a few natural preferences on the top of their fish foods. These include live foods (insects or worms), frozen foods, or algae wafers. Pellet foods, raw fruits, and vegetable matter can help supplement their diet as well.

Feed each Angolan Tilapia enough food that it can finish in 4 minutes, two times a day. Don’t give them too much food as it might contaminate water in the tank and affect their living conditions.

Angolan Tilapia Tank Mates

Most cichlids are territorial fish. The same case applies to Angolan Tilapia given that they are part of African Cichlids. They are aggressive and will guard their territory by all means. At some point, they may attack any open-swimmers in their natural habitat.

If you are looking forward to mixing them with other tank fish you need to be careful. Ensure that their tank mates occupy different levels of the aquarium. This will help them coexist with their tank mates peacefully.

When it comes to choosing the right tank mates, consider the region of the tank each fish species is going to occupy. For Angolan Tilapia, none-bottom dwellers will become good tank mates. However, the same tank mates should be of the same size as your African cichlids to make them a perfect match.

A good example is the African Catfish. They are fast swimmers, aggressive, and large in size. At least they can defend themselves in case of conflicts within the tank.

Small fish such as tetras will not survive for long. They will become an easy meal if you leave them in the same tank environment with your Angolan Tilapia.

South American cichlids will also not be a good option. This is because the two fish species have evolved far apart in different habitats so their immune system is different.

Angolan Tilapia Breeding

When you subject your Angolan Tilapia to the right conditions, they are likely to breed in captivity. Their type of reproduction is through egg-laying. They will lay several eggs in hidden places such as caves for safety reasons.

Keep in mind that these fish are substrate spawners. After laying the eggs they will guard them throughout until they hatch. It will take three weeks for the eggs to hatch into small fry (young fish). The female will take care of their fry for 7 to 14 days after which they will fend for themselves.

During the breeding seasons, Angolan Tilapia fish and the rest of African cichlids become extremely aggressive. This trait shows their strong parental instincts to ensure that their young ones are well-protected.

Sometimes they lose their parental instincts and turn against each other or their own fry. You can separate parents from their fry to prevent this behavior.

For your Angolan Tilapia to breed, you need to make sure that their tank environment does not change.

In other words, there should be no aqua-scaping, no changes in tank water parameters, and no introduction of new fish in the tank. Once you fulfill all these conditions, you can rest assured that your pet fish will breed successfully.

How Big do Angolan Tilapia Grow?

Depending on their environment, Angolan tilapi can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) in size. So, if you consider keeping this fish together with other fish species, makes sure you choose tank mates that get at least to this size and their growth rate is similar.

What is the Lifespan of Angolan Tilapia?

Angolan tilapia lives to about 7-8 years. You can extend the lifespan of Angolan tilapia by providing them with a good and healthy diet, good water conditions and enough space.

Are Angolan Tilapia Aggressive?

Yes, Angolan tilapia is an aggressive and territorial fish. They can be kept in a big community tank, but make sure that their tank mates resemble similar behavior.


Angolan Tilapia are colorful fish to have as pets in your aquarium. They are one of the fish species belonging to the African Cichlids family. Their natural habitat is mainly freshwater lakes and rivers.

They are mainly used in aquaculture in different parts of the world. These fish require tank conditions similar to what they are used to in the wild. You can keep them on their own or let them coexist with tank mates of similar behavior.

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