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#562217 10/30/23 04:03 PM
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Hello, I am looking to get some Tilapia next Spring for a pond near Columbia, MO. Does anyone know any hatcheries in Missouri that have Tilapia?

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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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The last I heard, you couldn't stock them in Missouri.


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First off, welcome to PB fellow Miserian!

The Wildlife Code of Missouri is the gold standard for what is/isn't permitted in Missouri.
Wildlife Code of Missouri

A search of the current document results in zero hits for "tilapia".

Similarly, there is no mention of "tilapia" on the MO Dept of Conservation website.
MO Dept of Conservation

That said, consider the fact that the Missouri Wildlife Code is a "permissive" code, meaning that if it does not specifically
state that a given thing is permitted, it is NOT permitted. Pay particular attention to 3 CSR 10-9.110 General Prohibition; Applications.
The fact that tilapia is NOT on the list of species permitted for aquaculture would suggest that tilapia are NOT permitted.

And that said, pay particular attention to 3 CSR 10-4.117 Prohibited Species.
Tilapia is NOT a species that is specifically prohibited.

Considered together, those two sections of the code may lead one to believe that tilapia are in a gray area, as evidenced
by the fact that several fish sellers can be found who are perfectly willing to sell tilapia into Missouri.

Additional information on aquaculture in Missouri can be found here.
Missouri Aquaculture Association

I am not an attorney, so DO NOT interpret my comments as any sort of legal advice.

I can state this with certainty: the Wildlife Code of Missouri as published on the Secretary of State website IS the law, and anyone
considering the import of a species not specifically permitted by the code should obtain competent legal advice before
importing non-native fish or wildlife to the state.

Hope that clears it up for you.

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Augie is correct that the regulations appear to be as clear as mud.

I would suggest going to the contact page of the Mo. Dept. of Conservation and sending them an email regarding stocking tilapia in a private pond. If they respond with a "yes", then you will have written permission to stock them.

If it turns outs THAT bureaucrat is wrong about the law, then you can at least demonstrate that you had written permission!

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I will add a caveat to Rod's comment.

Missouri Dept. of Conservation employees are notoriously ignorant of the law - especially the enforcement division folks.

Ignorance of the law being no excuse, written permission from a low level bureaucrat in the department is likely useless
in court if that written permission is contradictory to the code. In a situation like this, if I were bound and determined to
put tilapia in my pond, I wouldn't do it on anything less than a personally signed letter from the Director, and even then
I'd think long and hard before pulling the trigger on a purchase. You would now be on their radar for stocking a species
that is not expressly permitted, and the next Director may not be sympathetic to your situation.
You might find a sympathetic judge, but I wouldn't count on that to get me out of the wringer.

Reminding you again that I'm not an attorney, my personal advice is don't be the crash test dummy. Let someone else
get busted for illegal fish and see what the courts have to say about it before stocking tilapia in the waters of Missouri.

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Originally Posted by Augie
First off, welcome to PB fellow Miserian!

The Wildlife Code of Missouri is the gold standard for what is/isn't permitted in Missouri.
Wildlife Code of Missouri

A search of the current document results in zero hits for "tilapia".

Similarly, there is no mention of "tilapia" on the MO Dept of Conservation website.
MO Dept of Conservation

That said, consider the fact that the Missouri Wildlife Code is a "permissive" code, meaning that if it does not specifically
state that a given thing is permitted, it is NOT permitted. Pay particular attention to 3 CSR 10-9.110 General Prohibition; Applications.
The fact that tilapia is NOT on the list of species permitted for aquaculture would suggest that tilapia are NOT permitted.

And that said, pay particular attention to 3 CSR 10-4.117 Prohibited Species.
Tilapia is NOT a species that is specifically prohibited.

Considered together, those two sections of the code may lead one to believe that tilapia are in a gray area, as evidenced
by the fact that several fish sellers can be found who are perfectly willing to sell tilapia into Missouri.

Additional information on aquaculture in Missouri can be found here.
Missouri Aquaculture Association

I am not an attorney, so DO NOT interpret my comments as any sort of legal advice.

I can state this with certainty: the Wildlife Code of Missouri as published on the Secretary of State website IS the law, and anyone
considering the import of a species not specifically permitted by the code should obtain competent legal advice before
importing non-native fish or wildlife to the state.

Hope that clears it up for you.



Allow me to clear some mud for you!! When it comes to approved aquatic species, there is no grey area...If a species is not ON the list, it is illegal....



First, Tilapia are illegal to stock in any pond in Missouri, period

Second, if you want to hold Tilapia in aquariums or aquaponics, you must first get a site inspection and a signed permission letter to possess Tilapia in Missouri

Third, Tilapia are not in the wildlife codes because they are an aquarium fish, and MDC, by statute has no authority over the aquarium trade in MO...That said, there was a new statute created that authorizes the MDC to "give permission".....MDC once visited me and said I needed permission to hold my Tilapia in tanks...I then said, when you have the legal authority to give me permission, I'll ask for it and they left...10 years later, they finally got the authority....If you stock Tilapia in a pond (you can't get permission for that), expect 5 figure fines and federal charges



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Thanks for the clarifications, Rainman!

Only person I know that is giving out presents on their birthday. grin

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Rex is who I got my information from several years ago.


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Appreciate the commentary, Rex. My "hope that clears it up for you" comment was sarcasm. Apparently too well-disguised.


Do you have a link to the new statute that authorizes MDC to "give permission"?
I'm also curious how stocking tilapia in Missouri could result in federal charges.

Not trying to be a contrarian here, just trying to get the facts so no one has a problem with the law due to ignorance of the rules.

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Augie, I am no 100% sure, but I believe when he's talking about Federal charges, I think it's a violation of the Lacy Act.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Wikipedia provides a useful explanation in layman terms simple enough that even I can understand it:

Lacey Act wiki

Thanks for that, esshup. It's a great addition to the conversation and something that all pondmeisters should be aware
of when considering what species to stock and where to source them.

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Why would anyone want to stock Tilapia in MO? The growing season for them would be only six months, maybe, before they died off. How big could they possibly get in six months?

Cody Note: Expect growth to be a much as 2" per month when they get lots of food. What other good type of algae control can you eat at the end of the year??? See Theo's post a couple posts below.

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Originally Posted by John Fitzgerald
Why would anyone want to stock Tilapia in MO? The growing season for them would be only six months, maybe, before they died off. How big could they possibly get in six months?

The thought has crossed my mind to do it for vegetation control, that would probably be the main reason.
Which brings me to the next point, why would the Dep of Conservation care, they would never overpopulate or take over a BOW in MO. they would simply be eliminated the first cold snap.
But they bring the disgusting otters to clean out the fish we are allowed to grow in the state. did I mention the consternation I have for the MoDOC?


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
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Originally Posted by John Fitzgerald
Why would anyone want to stock Tilapia in MO? The growing season for them would be only six months, maybe, before they died off. How big could they possibly get in six months?
We're as far North as Northern Missouri here, and we get Tilapia up to 13" every year.


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About 30 miles due South of the Indiana/Michigan border here. Tilapia stocked as 6"-9" fish get up to 17" here. Stock sometime in May depending on water temp, they don't die until late Oct/early November.


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