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Tilapia Farming at Home! for food, for profit,for fun! (and all you need is a wet thumb!)

Tilapia Farming at Home
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Is Tilapia legal for me to own where I live?
Throughout most of the world, yes. Here in "The Land Of The Free", NOT IN EVERY STATE!
Here we frown on any kind of Independence other than Financial.
When I was learning all about Tilapia, I did not know this. When I found out, I just about gave up. "I'm too old to go fight city hall" was my mentality. I found a friend, his name is Russ. He had a certification from the state as an "Aquaculture Facility". He gave me the needed knowledge, encouragement, and hope.
A very nice lady who is working on setting up her Home Tilapia farm gave me a great idea!
In order to get the "protein Independence" ball rolling, I will discount one breeder colony by 75% to the first person in each state who goes through the motions of obtaining the necessary permit, 50% to the second, and 25% to the third. (plus the cost of shipping).
All I require is proof that you have obtained the permit for my particular breeds of Tilapia, and your story: how you did it, who did you contact, what forms you filled out, etc. Names, addresses, stuff like that. After I verify it, I'll post it here for other people in your state to follow. If my breeds of Tilapia are not regulated in your state, be the first one to establish that fact and still get 75% off.(sorry, no 2nd or 3rd place here).
Please note: I am not required to obtain permit information from you except here in Florida.
if you do not wish to participate in the discount program all I suggest is that you comply with whatever regulations exist in your state.
Here are the  unedited contributions from people around the nation that I have gathered so far:
 Please note: This list is not in alphabetical order so please scroll all the way down to see if your state is listed.
Sorry, I already did my homework!, I was awarded first prize.
Just go to, download the 1 or 2 page application, send it in with a check. You are requesting permission to possess "restricted Cichlidae". Wait for them to call you with an inspection date. The inspection should take all of 15 minutes. Be ready to describe how you are going to do this as a small, home based business, and show how your property is above the floodplain, how your tanks are going to be protected from birds, and where you are going to dispose of the fish waste. (fertilizer for your plants, duh!). That's it.
Kudos to Gary near Leesburg ! He obtained his permit and claimed second prize !
Even more Kudos to Ken & Donna of D&K Aquaponics near Starke, FL. They claimed third prize! (first in the nation!)
New York
Brian is first prize winner !
He correctly pointed out that since a closed-loop, recirculating system is really the only possibility there, the state does not require a permit.
He contacted Phil Hulbert ( at the Dept of Environmental Conservation, Fisheries Dept.


We have updated information! Again! (a permit is required)

Brian informs us:

Actually I've been on the phone with California's State Agricultural
Commissioner's office speaking to San Bernardino's Supervising
Agricultural Officer quite a bit this past week. I'm in
the process of becoming a State Licensed Aquaculture Facility.

He (THE state's Agricultural commissioner) contacted this website and asked me to remove his name and contact information and suggested contacting California Fish & Game at: License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834, (916) 928-xxxx or
They in turn contacted this website and asked me to remove this information. In their words: "The contact person would be Karen Mitchell at our Fisheries Branch and she can be contacted at: (corrected, again) 916-445-0826 (apparently the prior one is Gave Quillman's number).

 Anyway, back to the "commish': (Please remove License and Revenue Branch, should be replaced with DFG Fisheries Branch. Remove (916) 928-xxxx immediately. Remove immediately. The email address that you have up on there should be replaced with the Fisheries Branch email"

(This website's opinion: California is suppossed to be so hip and all, but I didn't know that public servants were allowed to have non-listed phone numbers, email addresses and names !)

It is legal (only with a permit) to have Tilapia in only
6 counties of California (San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los
Angeles, Imperial & Orange)... In any other county in California it's
illegal for any type of Tilapia.

To legally have Tilapia in California one must register as a State
Permitted Aquaculture Facility.

Here is a link to the application

Mossambica & Hornorum are listed on the application... To get permitted to

sell Blue Tilapia I just have to list it on the application... Same goes
for any other Tilapia not listed.


North Carolina

First prize winner!!

Mel near Asheville said: A permit is needed in N.C.

Here is how to get one:

There is only one permit that is necessary to posses non-native fish in NC. (The address to mail it to is printed on the bottom of the form.) It can be downloaded here:

Although there are names and numbers listed on the website above, the form will eventually show up on the desk of Kyle Briggs at the NC Wildlife Resources Commission: (919) 707-0220 - so questions could be directed to him (ask for his extension). He was helpful to me, though I can't be certain that he still works there.

If there are plans to sell fish for consumption, then an additional permit is necessary - from the NC Dept. of Agriculture, available for download here:

The contact there is Matt Parker: (252) 633-1477 -ask for his extension.

Second Prize goes to David near Durham! (50% off)



Wally is first prize winner there! (no permit required), just a few common sense requirements similar to those in FL. See the website for details.
All Mr. Cool there had to do was casually point out:
please note: This link now takes you to the main page of the website. Once there you must click on "fishing", then on "Fisheries management" and finally on "Aquaculture regulations and the Georgia fish grower"

  • Kansas
    David is first prize winner (no permit required)

    Private water fishing impoundment; exemptions. 32-974.

    The owner or tenant having possession and control of a private water fishing impoundment and desiring to use it for the propagation or raising of fish for private use or to be sold or used commercially may do so without securing or holding any state license, permit or stamp and without being limited as to numbers, time or manner of taking fish from such impoundment. is the website. run a search for "prohibited species list". Tilapia is not there.



    Earl near Merrillville won first prize there! (no permit required)

    He went to Under "fish permit procedures" click on permit guidelines. Tilapia is on the approved species list, and since they will be kept in an aquarium, no permit is required.

    He also points out that you will need a "fish hauler's and supplier's" permit if you produce live fish for sale, but it is free.


  • Missouri

    Kendall near Springfield is first prize winner! (No permit required, only "permission letter"). In this case there will be 2nd and 3rd prizes for getting "the letter".

    How to raise Tilipia in missouri In steps.
    1. you must write to the Department of Conservation P.O Box 180 Jefferson City Mo 65102 phone # 573-751-4115 Atnn DIRECTOR. You must ask for written permisson to raise Tilipia T. Hornorum, and T. Mossambica and explain how you will raise them.
    Closed loop system is the only permitted way.
    2. After written request has been submitted An Agent will contact you and request to see your system. Once they inspect your system and if they approve they will send you the approval letter.
    More rules to be aware of:
    -Must be inside home building or green house. Live organisms and eggs, parasites and diseases not possible to escape.
    -Discharge of water is not permitted for gardens houseplants and or lawns. Must be discharged in a septic system.
    -System may be aquaponic or recirculating system with no discharge of water.
    -Please note city sewer is permitted to use for Water Changes.
    Please note that no PERMIT is required But written permission is.......
    Rhode Island
    Rusty near providence is first prize winner! (no permit required)
    In his own words:
    I have checked with Christine Dudley the Supervising Fresh Water Biologist at the Department of Environmental Management for the State of Rhode Island.

  • telephone: (401) 789-0281.
    There is no regulation of the possession of tilapia in a closed system in the state of Rhode Island. They would not likely survive out of doors here anyway, but it is illegal to place them in a system which they could escape to the environment from. There are regulations regarding the sale of tilapia and other activities necessary to make a successful business of it.
    Carl and Mathew both win first prize (No permit required)
    Each contributed a piece of the puzzle.
    You can contact the Wildlife Department at (405)521-3721. They will tell you that you can keep tilapia, however, they can not be sold as 'live' bait. To sell them for food, one must be a licensed aquaculturist.
    (c) Tilapia:
    (1) The sale and use of all Tilapia species as bait is prohibited.
    (2) The stocking of all Tilapia species in any heated-water reservoir
    including Sooner, Konawa, and Boomer Reservoirs is prohibited.
    (3) This shall not interfere with the sale of dead and or processed
    Tilapia for human food or the sale or transport of Tilapia species for
    the purpose of aquatic vegetation control in privately owned ponds.
    [Source: Amended at 8 OK Reg 2005, eff May 13, 1991]

    The website where this information was located-
    Here is a link for the list of aquatic nuisance species- Tilapia is not there.


    David won first prize! (No permit required)

    Here is the contact info for Idaho>>>
  • 1. I got the final answer from Dr. Debra Lawerence from the Dept of Agriculture 208-332-8500 If it's a private system, not on a waterway, nothing is required. If it's a commercial system (fish for sale), and not on a waterway, there is a 2 year commercial fish rearing license required, cost $25, and one inspection, but no specific requirements
    . Idaho fish and Game 208-334-3700 No requirement
  • 3. Id. Wildelife dept/ fish 334-3791 No requirement






    Mario near Sterling Heights is first prize winner. (A permit is required).

    Here's how to get it:


    Begin process by going to state of Michigan's specific website,1607,7-125-1569_16979_21263---,00.html . Find "Facility and Research Permit Registration Application " form and fill out and send into provided address. After the state receives your application, they will contact you to schedule an physical inspection of the premise were you will be operating your hatchery (approx 30-45days from initial application). This inspection is completed by a licensed veterinarian send out on behalf of the state. The inspection time will vary depending on the size of your facility, but my inspection took about 45min. After the inspection, the inspection report is send to the state for final approval (takes another 30days), after the department of agriculture approves you, the entire application is sent to the D.E.Q. (department of environmental quality) the also need to give their approval, to make sure your facility will not threaten any natural ecosystems. Entire process took about 90 days, but state was very easy to work with, just like every other form of government slow and steady... Thanks and Good Luck...... Mario

    The following was reported by Karlie:

    On your Legal Issues page, the MI permit information is incomplete or outdated.

    According to,4610,7-125-1569_16979_21263---,00.html (which is the link in the section)

    A permit is only required for commercial ventures, ie selling fish to others.

    "You do not need an Aquaculture Research Permit or Aquaculture Facility Registration if you are operating a retail bait outlets, retail ornamental fish facilities, persons using privately controlled waters for noncommercial purposes, public aquariums or zoos, and portable retail fishing concessions."






    Joe is first prize winner ! (a permit is required)

    I will need to register as a "fish farm". is the link for that info.
    In order to obtain this permit I will first need to register my livestock location at and obtain a 7 digit code to place on page 3 of the permit application.

    This link is for a Fish Farm information .pdf file from the WDATCP web site. It includes the 4 page

    Fish Farm registration application.

    It is not too complicated. The first page is a social security number request form. The second page is instructions, followed by two pages of basic questions about who you are, the type of fish, water source, number of tanks, ponds or raceways, and planned use of the fish.

    I also found information that indicates that an importation permit along with a Fish Health Certificate may be required for bringing livestock or eggs into the state. There is a $90.00 non-refundable fee to obtain the importers permit. Apparently a copy of the permit must accompany incoming shipments.
    Here is the a link for the permit application.

    NOTE: We went through with the "Fish Health Certificate". It has been filed and it is good for a year. I will renew it every year. If you want to import my fingerlings or breeder colonies into Wisconsin, you just need the fish farm permit and the importation permit which will be granted to you because they have my Certificate on file there.

    Contributed by Robert!

    I was looking at the Legal Issues area of your site. WI has updated its laws and as of April, 2012, no longer requires the import permit.



    Washington State

    Keith near Spokane is first prize winner! (a permit is required)

    He said:

    One must fill out a state form called "Fish Transport Application/ Permit" from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and pay a $24 fee. I included with the form a cover letter covering the following points. Use of fish, where kept, the water source, distance to the closest stream, and name of the fish supplier. They also needed a form supplied by Edgar Sanchez. The final decision was made by Joan Thomas 360-902-2667.




    Joe from near chagrin Falls, OH is the first prize winner!

    A permit is needed but it is very easy to obtain:

    "The process here in Ohio is relatively straight forward. You send a request to the ODNR for a class A aquaculture permit,list the species, include $50 and you are all set. Here is the web site ->" (just click on "Aquaculture" and then on "Aquaculture Class Aand B).

    2nd prize goes to David and Mary near Hicksville!! (50% off)



    Steve near Huntsville has won first prize! (No permit required)

    Here's what he found out:

    Steven J. Rider ( at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said no permits are required.
    He suggested using a recirculative system but no permit is required if they are raised in ponds. He suggested if the ponds were near or connected to a public waterway that you should definitely contact him to make sure there aren't any additional requirements.
    The Department of Agriculture and Industries at 334-240-7171 said a Food Safety Permit is required to sell tilapia as food.
    This permit is $50/year and they can fax or mail the form to you.
    You won't need anything else unless you process (clean, filet, etc.) the fish prior to sale. If you do then you'll need to contact USDA for a meat processing license.
    The Department of Conservation at 334-242-3849 said no permits
    are required to sell tilapia as livestock as long as they come from a private pond or recirculative system. If they come from
    a public waterway though a Fish Dealer's License is required.


    New Jersey

    Bill gets the first prize! (NO PERMIT REQUIRED)!

    Bill said:

    Fish and Wildlife has informed me that i do not need a permit for a contained system

    The person i spoke to at NJ Fish and Wildlife was Mark Boriek. Here is a link from the state of new jersey. It has all the regulations from every NJ state agancy regarding aquaculture.

    The phone number for NJ Fish and Wildlife is 609-292-8642.





    Jason wins first prize!

    (An "artificial propagation license" is required)

    "In Pa to acquire an artificial propagation license which is required you must contact The Department Of Agriculture, Mary Dates, At 717-783-5301 and she will send you the application to fill out. After you submit the application when approved you pay $150.00 and receive your license the whole process is 4-6 weeks."




    bob near Midlothian won first prize!

    A permit is required. He said:

    We just got our permits to get tilapia. The procedure in Virginia is to fill out 2 forms:


    (Under Authority of § 29.1-412, § 29.1-103, §29.1-417 of the Code of Virginia, 4 VAC 15-20-200)


    (Under Authority of VR 325-01-2, § 29.1-542 of the Code of Virginia)

  • These can both be found on the web sites listed.
    After filling out the forms, and sending in your money, the department contacts you for a visit to your facility to see if the species in question will be able to escape into the wild. Our facility was approved with no restrictions.

    Kevin near Chesapeake wins 2nd place! (50% off)
    Windy near Alexandria claims 3rd place! (25% off)
    Charles near Hamilton wins first prize! NO PERMIT REQUIRED
    "I decided to do my own research into the law. And here is what i found. application 87-3-210 permit to import fish says " no permit required for fish tanks" private or business. Please be responsible with tilapia and all other imported fish in Montana they have been seen in the snake river in Montana. I spoke with Montana fish wildlife & parks 406 444 2535 permitting talked to Tim Feldner and all is good."
  • Here's un update by Brian:

     I tried contacting the name you showed on the website and found out Tim Feldner retired last year. Eileen Ryce is now the fisheries point of contact for Tilapia issues in the state of MT.
    (Eileen Ryce, Hatchery Section Chief, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1420 East 6th Ave., Helena, MT 59620, Tel: 406-444-2448)

    Jim wins first prize!

    Prohibited invasive species
    Certain invasive species that can threaten natural resources and their use have been designated as prohibited invasive species in Minnesota. It is unlawful (a misdemeanor) to possess, import, purchase, transport, or introduce these species except under a permit for disposal, control, research, or education. The prohibited invasive species in Minnesota include the following and any hybrids, cultivars, or varieties of the species listed below:

    NO Tilapia listed!!!!

    Regulated invasive and unlisted nonnative species

    Regulated and unlisted invasive species are legal to possess, sell, buy, and transport, but they may not be introduced into a free-living state, such as being released or planted in public waters. The regulated invasive species are:


    alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)*
    carp, koi (Cyprinus carpio)*
    goldfish (Carassius auratus)*
    rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax)*
    tilapia (Oneochromis, Sartheradon, and Tilapia spp.)


    Jordan from near Nashville wins first prize! (permit required)

    Here is his story:

    It is legal to raise tilapia mossambica already along with nilotica and blue tilapia I believe, however, the only hang-up was the T. Hornorum male.So in order to be approved to grow this specific breed I had to request an “experimental aquaculture permit.”Call the TWRA and request the permit.Once you obtain the permit, you then need to purchase a fish dealers license which costs $50.This can be purchased anywhere fishing licenses are sold.


    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)

    J. Eric Ganus
    Fisheries Division Biologist
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
    PO Box 40747
    Nashville, TN 37204
    Office: (615) 837-4255
    Fax: (615) 781-6667


    Mark near Rutledge wins Second place and adds this:


    Due to the large number of warm water outlets from both coal and nuclear power plants along Tennessee rivers, it is illegal to rear Tilapia in Tennessee without an Experimental Aquaculture Permit.  The worry is that the Tilapia will be drawn to the warmer waters inside the outlets and create maintenance issues or damage the facilities.  The Experimental Aquaculture Permits comes with several stipulations including that your rearing tanks need to be covered with mesh and that no waste water can be discharged outside of your property.  In addition to the Experimental Aquaculture Permit, you will need to obtain a Resident Fish Farming License (type 118) for $50 from any place that sells fishing licenses (like Walmart).  You will need to know the exact scientific name and common names of the Tilapia that you want to breed. (such as Oreochromis urolepis hornorum, Hornorum Tilapia and Oreochromis mossambicus, Mozambique Tilapia

    As for the Experimental Aquaculture Permit itself, theres only one many standing between you and your permit, Eric Ganus of the Fisheries Management Division or the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.Eric is a wealth of knowledge and more than happy to help you get your fish farming up and running legally in Tennessee.  However, do not make the mistake of assuming that Eric is under any mandate to approve you.  He's not a clerk, he's the Commercial Fishing/Mussel Coordinator for the entire state and extremely busy. Be patient and expect it to take eight to ten weeks for you to get your permit.  It's okay to send a friendly letter every couple of weeks, but don't overdo it.

    Here's the information you need to get started.
    Eric Ganus
    Phone: (615) 781-6579




    Anthony wins First prize! (75% off). A permit is required.

    For Illinois The Contact Person is:


    Matt O'Hara

    Natural Resources Specialist



    State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources


    One Natural Resources Way

    Springfield, IL 62702-1271


    Fill out an Aquaculture Permit Application

    Pay $50

    Tilapia Breed is not on the approved species list. Just need to list the breed on the application and Matt O'Hara will inspect the facility for proper filtration and drainage since the breed is not on the approval list.






    Misty near Cheyenne wins first prize! A permit is required

    Wyoming Game and Fish
    Here is a link that will take you to the webpage that has the "Private Fish Hatchery License Application" form.

    It costs $182 plus they want a copy of a surety bond in the amount of $500.

    The phone number of the man at the game and fish that was very helpful to me is (307)745-5180
    (307)745-5180ext. 237

    Benjamin contributes this as well:

    I believe your information on regulations in WY is lacking and the link seems to now be invalid. My friend, who works for WY G&F mentioned the necessity of a Chapter 10 permit to possess and import wildlife, including fish. Here is the link for that application:

    As for the private fishery license here is that link:

    Also, here is a link to a brochure that the WY G&F has published about possing wildlife:

    I hope this helps people. If I learn more I'll be sure to let you know. Thank you


    First prize goes to Kevin. He said:

    I've been in contact with Don Mitchell at the:

    Arizona Game and Fish Department
    Region V - Tucson
    555 N. Greasewood Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85745

    He directed me to the official government page showing that tilapia are not a restricted species in Arizona, which can be viewed here:

    However, because they are coming from out of state he had me send in an Aquatic Wildlife Stocking Permit, for which there is no fee. The instructions can be viewed here:

    The above page contains a link to the permit form, Form 2710-A, which can be viewed/downloaded here:

    Second prize (50% off) goes to Jerid near Tucson, AZ !





    This is a very special first prize. Rich contacted me on January 8, 2009 interested in aquaculture as a career. After 2 years of working in related fields and going to school
    he is the proud owner of Smittycat's Finfish Depot in Irvine, KY.

    Way to go rich!!

    In Kentucky, a Commercial Live Bait and Fish Dealer's license is required of anyone wanting to raise and sell fish of any kind, and a transportation permit (included with license fees) is required if you deliver. There is a $50.00 fee and all Species of fish to be raised/sold must be listed on the application available at: The whole process only took about a week to complete.

  • South Carolina

    Yvonne from near Columbia won first prize! (no permit needed)

    She said:

    I contacted the dept of natural resources for my region. There is no required permits needed for personal use, only if you plan on selling. Then a commercial license and permit will be required. My information came from Ms Barbara Hasty ( The phone number is: (803)734-3878. Phone number was obtained at: . Their web address is We have 4 regions in SC and phone numbers for each are listed on the web site. I was also told that the seller was responsible for supplying the buyer with "Proof of Possesion





    South Dakota

    Dustin "Crazy Horse" wins first prize! (no permit required)

    He said:

    "Ok, good news it seems. I talked with Brian Fletcher (605) 381-9641 at the South Dakota dpt of Fish Game and Parks who seems to be the one in charge of importation licenses and he said he said that any fish for aquarium use don't require a permit, even Tilapia. You would just need to label the package "for aquarium use" to make sure no one mishandles the package. He said that basically it's ok so long as they are not stocked into any South Dakota waters (which include all open bodies of water in the state, on public or private land).







    Urgent update!

    I, a State of Alaska official improperly quoted on your web page, am asking you to correct it immediately. It is illegal to raise tilapia for human food in Alaska but the way you have presented the Alaska information is that no permit is required. It should say "farming of tilapia for the ornamental fish trade is allowed in Alaska without a permit but under certain conditions. BE WARNED that no farming of tipalpia is allowed for human food or sport fishing purposes."
    Farming of tilapia for food is a misdemeanor in Alaska and could be a class A misdemeanor if any of the fish or their diseases are released into the environment intentionally or otherwise and impact natural fish populations.
    Please call me if you want further details.
    Bob Piorkowski, Ph. D.
    Fish Resource Permit Program Coordinator
    Alaska Department of Fish and Game-SF
    Box 115526, 1255 W. 8th Street
    Juneau, AK 99811-5526
    (907) 465-6109 phone (907) 465-2772 fax
    This is one of 2 reasons cited by Dr. Piorkowski:
    I ask you: What part of Alaska has a year round water temperature of over 50 degrees F.?
    I don'tknow but I would put my money on closed-loop, re-circulating aquaponic systems.
    In my opinion, a "permittted, educated citizenry" is better than a "gold rush!"
    Let him know, please!




    Jonathan wins 1st prize! 75% discount! (a permit is required)

    This one has a twist! Hornorum is prohibited in Colorado but Jonathan established that Nile, Blue, and Mossambica are allowed with a permit. He will purchase his breeder colonies with either Nile or Blue

  • Tilapia as the male in the colony with mossambica females!

    He said:

    I found out that your Hornorum breed would not be permitted and never got around to following up. I saw on your website you now offer Blue and will soon offer Nile which is great! Below are the legal requirements for raising Tilapia in Colorado. Let me know if the discount is still applicable. I'd love to spread the word around our state!

    Scott Leach, who is in charge of aquaculture at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, gave me the necessary information for raising Tilapia in Colorado.

    Tilapia is a prohibited species in Colorado. This means a permit is required to raise the fish. The only species that Division of Wildlife allow are Blue, Mozambique, Nile and their hybrids. The aquaculture permit application can be filled out here:  Aquaculture permit application  (thanks, Char!) and sent to Scott Leach. His contact information is below. NOTE! Scott has moved on. His successor is Wayne East.

  • There is a $100 annual fee for the permit.

    Wayne East, ,

    Colorado Department of Agriculture

    700 Kipling St., Ste. 4000

    Lakewood, CO 80215


    Fax: 303.239.4164






    Roberta wins first prize! (some breeds require a permit, some not!)

    There are three species that may be aquacultured with an Exotic Species Permit from Texas Parks and Wildlife:
    Blue, Nile, and Mozambique tilapia.
    The ONLY tilapia species you can have on your property for personal use (i.e. not for sale to the public) without an Exotic Species Permit is MOZAMBIQUE tilapia. In order to be in possession of Mozambique tilapia without a permit you must maintain a copy of your exotic species transport invoice with a valid permit number from the group you purchased the fish from.
    Its a 3 Step Process:
    1. You have a TCEQ permit exemption form that says you don’t have any wastewater runoff. You can download it from their website and I don’t think it requires much effort on your part. Contact Melinda Luxemburg with TCEQ at 512-239-4541 or email at for more information on how to obtain this permit.
    2.Then send it to Rick Garza at Texas Department of Agriculture to obtain an aquaculture license 512-936-2430 or email at You will have to complete some paperwork with Rick as well.
    3. Finally, you will then need to send in a copy of these permits along with your completed application to Luci Cook-Hildreth at TPWD. You can download it at click on Exotic Species Permit or Renewal (PWD-1026) (Word51 KB) (for commercial and agricultural operations) and the application fee of $263. Once TPWD has received all this information a TPWD biologist will get in touch with you to make arrangements to inspect your facility. Once your facility has passed inspection your permit will be issued. All permits expire on December 31st in the year they are issued. There is a $27 fee to renew the Exotic Species permit each year. For help, at TPWD, contact Luci Cook-Hildreth at 512-389-8750.

    West Virginia

    Brian wins 1st prize! (a permit is required)

    Here's the story:

    I had to call the:

    Wildlife Resources Div - Charleston, WV 25305 - (304)558-2771

    and ask for a Mr. Brett Preston. He need to know my mailing address and the approximate number of fish I intended to bring into the state, and whether or not they were in a closed recirculating system or a pond. There was no fee associated with the permit or with the importation of the fish for home use. The form itself is mailed from the Wildlife Resources Division to your home and takes approximately a week to arrive.

    Mr. Preston was very helpful actually and told me a bit about what it would take to raise the fish in a healthy way including temperature concerns for our area (which I was aware of, but I was impressed that they cared enough to take the time to let me know.) He also recommended that I procure from any potential seller a Fish Health Certificate, for my own protection as a consumer, which I also thought was a helpful suggestion.

    In any case, it took less than 10 minutes on the phone once I found the correct number and division.





    Vernon wins first prize!


    For starters an import permit is required prior to entry. An application must be submitted in advance of import. The fee is $50 for a single entry (one time use) permit which is valid for 1 year or $200 for a multiple use permit, also valid for 1 year. Once received, a site inspection is required prior to issuing a permit. Another item to consider is that the source facility should be certified as disease free and should be able to provide documentation attesting to this. For the health requirements you may want to contact Dr. Allen Riggs

    Keep in mind that not all tilapias are approved for import. Niloticus tilapias and Honorum tilapias are not allowed for import thus no permits will be issued for them. Mossambicus and aureus (blue) tilapias are allowed.

    Hope this helps. I've included a link to our website for more information.




    New Hampshire


    I can't believe I forgot to post this one! this happened earlier this year.


    First prize goes to George Mylonakis who, by the way, can arrange to export your Tilapia purchase internationally. Here's his info:


     George Mylonakis
    Go Global Logistics (in partnership with Tilapia Vita Farms)

    We went through a very complicated process in order to obtain Fish health Certificates for NH.
    During the process I personally met Mr. Jason M. Smith of the NH Fish and Game.
    He will be able to give you all the information you need in order to import my Tilapia into NH. The Fish Health Certificate part is already taken care of.
    Here is his contact information:
    Jason M. Smith
    Hatchery Supervisor
    New Hampshire Fish & Game Dept.
    11 Hazen Drive
    Concord, NH 03301
    Dawn near Bradford wins second price! (50% off)
    David also near Bradford wins 3rd prize!







    Don near round Mountain wins first prize!  (a permit is required)


    According to Don:


    I spoke with several different state organizations and people who thought they knew something, everyone told me there was no chance of legally raising tilapia in Nevada. Finally I got in contact with Jon Sjoberg, Supervising Biologist with Nevada Department of Wildlife, 702-486-5127. Jon explained that they had spent millions eradicating tilapia from the upper Virgin River because they were threatening some other fish that were on the endangered list. Needless to say, they are still found in Lake Mead, you can catch all you want but they better be dead if you get caught with them. Five years and/or $500 fine and they are not bashful about enforcing it.

    Anyhow, the only way to get a permit is for commercial use. In addition to a simple application that can be downloaded from Once there go to Licenses and Laws and scroll down to Commercial Possession Permit under the Wildlife Collection and Possession category. Pretty straight forward application however you do have to include brief sketch of your operation and explain how you will prevent their escape, same application for lions and tigers I guess, as well as keep the birds from potentially transporting the fish or their eggs from your property. Cost is $500.00 per year and the permit is good from July1 thru June 30 regardless of when you apply. Takes about a month processing time and you do have to have an importation permit anytime you bring in new stock from out of state. Cost for the additional permit is $15.00 and 2 week minimum processing time.


    Here is Tim and Lori's contribution:


    The information about Nevada on your sight is partially incorrect, because it only addresses commercial operations and it does not mention importation permits.

    The possession permit for non-commercial use is $15, (not $500).
    There is also an importation permit ($15) that requires non-Nevada fish to be obtained from approved facilities as follows:
    "HEALTH CERTIFICATES: Valid certificates of veterinary inspection (official health certificate) must accompany all shipments of wildlife, except those specifically exempted by NAC 503.140. This exception does not relieve an individual from complying with the health testing requirements established by the Nevada
    Department of Agriculture.
    Any shipment of live fish must be from an authorized facility in which a disease free certificate is on file with the Department.
    Copies of the approved health certificates must be forwarded to: State Veterinarian 350 Capitol Hill Ave
    My advise (Tilapia Vita farms): Call Jon, he apparently is the final authority




    LeaAnn wins first price!  (A permit MAY be needed):


    The Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Inspection and Appeals should be contacted as soon as possible to determine permits needed for an aquaculture operation. The following laws and regulations are summarized for convenience. In addition to these laws, local zoning, health, and other regulations may apply.

    These licenses are available from the Department of Natural Resources: 900 East Grand, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

    Aquaculture unit license: Needed to operate a hatchery, to engage in the business of propagating fish in private waters, or to hold fish for commercial purposes. The state conservation officer in your area must approve the application before a license can be issued. The licensee is allowed to possess, propagate, buy, sell, deal in, and transport fish produced from breeding stock lawfully acquired.

    Operators must secure breeding stock from licensed private fish hatcheries in Iowa or from lawful sources outside the state. The Department of Natural Resources can provide a list of licensed Iowa fish hatcheries and a list of conservation officers for each county.

    When purchasing fish, keep the bill of sale that allows possession to spawn, rear, and harvest fish. Additionally, anyone bringing fish or fish eggs into Iowa that are not native must submit an application to the DNR and receive a permit prior to transporting the fish into the state. The DNR may require certification that the source of fish or fish eggs is disease-free






    Aaron near Beaverton wins 1st prize!  (only transport permit is required)



    Personal consumption means you cannot sell, barter, exchange or trade tilapia; they are for

    your own personal use.

    Facility: Must be completely enclosed, such as in a garage, in a house or in a green house.

    Permits Required: ODFW Transport Permit. Work with your fish seller to secure a

    transportation permit from ODFW.

    Species allowed: Oreochromis mossambicus, Oreochromis niloticus, Oreochromis urolepis and

    Sarotherodon melanotheron and any hybrid of these species. Except it is Prohibited (illegal,

    unlawful) to use any hybrid of Oreochromis aurous commonly called Blue tilapia.

    List of Species which can be legally used or hybrids of these species

    Genus Species Subspecies Common Name

    Oreochromis mossambicus mossambicus
    Mozambique tilapia
    Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi
    Mozambique tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus baringoensis Baringo Nile tilapia

    Oreochromis niloticus canellatus
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus eduardianus
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus filoa Tilapia

    Oreochromis niloticus niloticus
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus sugutae
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus tana
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis niloticus vulcani
    Nile tilapia
    Oreochromis urolepis hornorum Wami tilapia

    Oreochromis urolepis urolepis Rufigi tilapia

    Sarotherodon melanotheron melanotheron Blackchin tilapia

    Sarotherodon melanotheron heudelatii Mango Fish

    Other Rules which apply:

    Only animals certified as disease-free from the vendor may be purchased.Ø
    No li ve tilapia may be released into water of this State.Ø
    Facilities housing nonnative wildlife and associated records are subject to inspection byØ
    any State Police officer or department representative. Inspection of the facilities may
    take place without warrant or notice, but unless prompted by emergency or exigent

    circumstances, shall be limited to regular and usual business hours, including weekends

    (OAR 635-056-0100).

    Fish Transport License

    All persons transporting fish in
    Oregon need to have a fish transport permit. Fish transport permits cost $12 and if you are buying from a licensed propagator, they will obtain this for you. If you are a researcher, you will need to pay for your permit before it can be issued. Please contact guy.s.chilton for an invoice.


     Reid from near Dundee wins second prize! (50 0ff)!





    Brian wins first prize!


    The person I contacted was: Dean Rosenthal
                                                    Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
                                        (402) 471-5552

    I called Nebraska Game and Parks and inquired about tilapia. To import any live fish into Nebraska one must fill out a "Authorization to Import" form, which must be received by Nebraska Game and Parks 10 days prior to their importation (PDF available on their website). I was also informed that only certain breeds of tilapia are permitted and only one man knew which. I had to wait a few days for him to get back to me but he finally informed me: "As long as they are going into a closed system with absolutely no live fish leaving the system, then I would approve importation of the Hornorum or Nile tilapia." The whole process took nearly a month, but they finally sign off on my "authorization to import" form. 





     Puerto Rico!


    Daniel Lopez near San Juan wins first place!

    His findings:

    Unfortunately and despite Puerto Rico is an US Territory this legal stuff is on spanish language so you may need a translator to verify this information. However I will point the most important details for you.

    1- Yes, Puerto Rico residents need a permit to import aquatic organism (that include live fish), otherwise the fish could be confiscated by the airport customs and the recipient will be exposed to pay a fine ( Puerto Rico Fishing Law 278 - November 24, 2010 Articles 24, 25, 25.1, 25.2, 25.3, and 25.4 ).

    2- The permit is granted by the Puerto Rico's Natural Resource Department DRNA ( a government agency ). Address: Carretera 8838, km. 6.3, Sector El Cinco, Río Piedras, Phone: 787-999-2200, Web page:

    A copy of the permit form can be found here

    A copy of the Puerto Rico Fishing Law - Ley Núm. 278 de 29 de noviembre de 1998 (new version - 2010) can be found here

    The permit cost is about $25.00 USD for import purposes and must be requested by one of the following categories; scientific, educative, aquiculture, exhibition or commercial (re-sales, pet shops, etc.). Additional documents and statements can be required depending on the category selected to request the permit. The permit ast for 1 year ( Puerto
    Rico Fishing Law - Article 19 ).

    3- Among other species tilapias are allowed in Puerto Rico with this permit. On the Puerto Rico Fishing Law - Apedice 6 - List 1 - cyclid section - the 70th position is for the Oreochromis Mossambicus, so is allowed to import with this permit.

    On the Puerto Rico Fishing Law - Apedice 6 - List 2 - cyclid section - are the Oreochromis aureus, O.hybrid, O.nicotilus and the O.urolepis. So the Urolepis Hornorum, blue and nile tilapias are allowed to import with this permit but UNDER CONTROLLED SITUATIONS such as enclosed systems, aquiculture, aquariums, scientific purposes, etc




    See folks? It may seem that an act of Congress is required in order for you to be able to be Protein independent. Not so!


    I am only trying to help, always take the time to research the regulations yourself