Sarotherodon is a genus of oreochromine cichlids that are native to the northern half of Africa (south as far as the Congo River basin), with a single species, S. galilaeus, also ranging into the Levant. A couple of species from this genus have been introduced far outside their native range, and are important in aquaculture (S. galilaeus and to a lesser degree S. melanotheron). Most other species have small ranges and some are seriously threatened. They mainly inhabit fresh and brackish water, but a few can live in salt water (at least for a period). Species in this genus, as well as those in several other oreochromine and tilapiine genera, share the common name "tilapia" and historically they were included in the genus Tilapia.
|Female mango tilapia (S. galilaeus galilaeus)|
Based on mtDNA sequence analysis, there seem to be several clades in this genus, and a few species of the much larger genus Oreochromis (such as Oreochromis urolepis and the blue tilapia O. aureus) seem closer to Sarotherodon according to the mtDNA data (see discussion at Wami tilapia). Research is hampered by the fact that hybridization runs rampant in these fishes, which confounds mtDNA data, and that the fast speed of evolution makes choice of appropriate nuclear DNA sequences difficult.
There are currently 13 recognized species in this genus:
- Sarotherodon caroli (Holly, 1930) (Fissi)
- Sarotherodon caudomarginatus (Boulenger, 1916)
- Sarotherodon galilaeus (Linnaeus, 1758)
- Sarotherodon knauerae D. Neumann, Stiassny & Schliewen, 2011
- Sarotherodon lamprechti D. Neumann, Stiassny & Schliewen, 2011
- Sarotherodon linnellii (Lönnberg, 1903) (Blackfin tilapia)
- Sarotherodon lohbergeri (Holly, 1930) (Keppi)
- Sarotherodon melanotheron Rüppell, 1852
- Sarotherodon mvogoi (Thys van den Audenaerde, 1965)
- Sarotherodon nigripinnis (Guichenot, 1861)
- Sarotherodon occidentalis (Daget, 1962)
- Sarotherodon steinbachi (Trewavas, 1962) (Kululu)
- Sarotherodon tournieri (Daget, 1965)
- Andreas R.Dunz & Ulrich K.Schliewen (2013). "Molecular phylogeny and revised classification of the haplotilapiine cichlid fishes formerly referred to as Tilapia". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 68 (1): 64–80. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.03.015. PMID 23542002.
- Nagl, Sandra; Tichy, Herbert; Mayer, Werner E.; Samonte, Irene E.; McAndrew, Brendan J. & Klein, Jan (2001): Classification and Phylogenetic Relationships of African Tilapiine Fishes Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 20(3): 361–374. doi:10.1006/mpev.2001.0979
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). Species of Sarotherodon in FishBase. April 2013 version.