Because of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability, tilapiine cichlids are the focus of major farming efforts, specifically various species of Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia, collectively known colloquially as tilapias. Like other large fish, they are a good source of protein and popular among artisanal and commercial fisheries. Most such fisheries were originally found in Africa, but outdoor fish farms in tropical countries such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Indonesia are underway in freshwater lakes. In temperate zone localities, tilapiine farming operations require energy to warm the water to tropical temperatures. One method uses waste heat from factories and power stations.
Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Cultivators use hormones such as testosterone to reverse the sex of newly spawned females. Because tilapia are prolific breeders, the presence of female tilapia results in rapidly increasing populations of small fish, rather than a stable population of harvest-size animals.
Whole tilapia fish can be processed into skinless, boneless (PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30 percent to 37 percent, depending on fillet size and final trim. The use of tilapia in the commercial food industry has led to the virtual extinction of genetically pure bloodlines. Most wild tilapia today are hybrids of several species