Tilapia Fish


Tilapia are considered a pest to Australia’s waterways. They were introduced to Australia and have bred extensively, especially in Queensland’s warmer waters. Native species are under threat from these foreign invaders, who prey on other fish and their own young.

It is our responsibility as Aussie fishos to help save our waterways from this invasive pest. It is illegal to release a live Tilapia back into the water. The law forbids it. In Queensland, the individual can be hit with a fine of up to $200,000.

More information is available here.


Tilapia are often found lurking in freshwater sources and saltwater sources with low salt content. They like shallow standing water, muddy creeks, weedy streams and creeks and blind estuaries and open lakes. You won’t usually find them in fast flowing waters, open estuaries or salt water sources with a high salt content, like the open ocean.

They are resilient fish and can handle low oxygen levels which kill off a lot of native species. They are able to use atmospheric oxygen when the oxygen levels in the water drop.


It is difficult to land Tilapia, even as a bycatch as they mainly feed on weeds and don’t readily take anglers bait. Occasionally they will strike at garden worms, prawns, bread or smaller flies. If your target species is Bream or Bass, you might find haul in some Tilapia as a bycatch.


Your normal setup for Bream and Bass will be up to the task of taking Tilapia. A 6-7ft rod, 1-3kg or 2-4kg, with a 1000-2500 series reel is sufficient for hauling in Tilapia. Tilapia can get to around 2kg, so with a light braid or mono line it might be a bit of a fight, but it adds to the challenge of it all.


It is all about the luck of the draw. As I said before, Tilapia are known to be picky with what they take. Although I have had some days on the water chasing Australian Bass when the Tilapia have been everywhere and I’ve pulled 5 or 6 out in an afternoon. It is potluck with these species. Garden worms, prawns, crickets, dough baits, bread baits and corn kernels have all been known to take Tilapia.

Tilapia are known to attack other species of fish, including cannibalising their own young. They will also take lures sometimes. Several Tilapia have met their ends thanks to a few of my soft body lures. Their appetite extends to anything of around 2-3 inches in length.


Don’t forget, you can’t have Tilapia on you, live or dead, so you need to dispose of it as quickly as possible. Kill the fish with a firm blow to the back of the head and bury it a safe distance from the water’s edge or throw it in the nearest rubbish bin. Check with your local authority for regulations regarding noxious fish.

More information is available at these links.

Queensland Legislation
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries


What do you think? Have you got any stories of culling Tilapia? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.

Robert M Davies
Robert M Davies

Robert passed the "Obsessed With Fishing Test" with flying colours. Instead of talking, Robert has turned his hand to writing about his experience in fishing all around Australia.