Taxon profile


Emirati Tilapia
Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi Khalaf, 2009

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Chordata - chordates »  class Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes »  order Perciformes - perch-likes »  family Cichlidae - cichlids »  genus Oreochromis »  species Oreochromis mossambicus - African Mouthbrooder

Other names

= Bassam Khalaf's Tilapia
= Wadi Al Wurayah Tilapia


The Wadi Al Wurayah new subspecies Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi Khalaf, 2009, have a smaller size than Oreochromis mossambicus mossambicus. The specimens measured were between 25 – 30 centimeters.


The general body colouration is olive, yellowish to blue-gray with a silvery iridescence. The belly is lighter and may have reddish overtones. The tail fin is with spots. The tail and dorsal fins are edged with red and the pectoral fins are red. At spawning times, the throat of the male is silver-white, while the rest of the body darkens. There are three unclear spots in a horizontal row on the flanks, and six or seven unclear vertical bands on the body. Males are often with an enlarged mouth and a concave head profile. The colour of eyes varies from yellow to dark brown. Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi have 16 to 20 gill rakers.


The Wadi Al Wurayah Tilapias are omnivores that consume detrital material, vegetation with various ranges from diatoms to macro-algae to rooted plants, invertebrates, and small fry.

Potential to compete with Native Fish:
Oreochromis mossambicus pose threats to local native populations through competition for food and nesting space. This interaction may reduce the biodiversity of the native fishery due to reduction of food availability and/or by the native fish being eaten as prey. But in the Wadi Al Wurayah Pools, it has been observed that Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi was not preying on the local Wadi Al Wurayah Fish Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009.


The original habitat of Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters, 1852) is the Limpopo River, Mozambique, East Africa. They have been introduced to various tropical and subtropical waters all over the world. In the Arabian Peninsula, it lives in Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Emirates. The new subspecies Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi is endemic to Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Etymology / Derivation of Scientific Name

The scientific name Oreochromis: oreos is a Greek word which means “of the mountains” and chroma is also Greek and means “colour”; mossambicus is Latin for Mozambique; and bassamkhalafi is Latin for “Bassam Khalaf” (The Father of the fish-discoverer) (1938 – 2006).
This subspecies of the Mozambique or Common Tilapia is named by the Palestinian-German Zoologist Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa and was named in honour of his father “Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf” (Abu Ali), who was born in Jaffa, Palestine, on 10 March 1938, and died in Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Germany on 17 February 2006.

Links and literature

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi Khalaf, 2009 : A New Mozambique Tilapia Subspecies from Wadi Al Wurayah Pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 – 6288. Number 92, August 2009, Sha’ban 1430 AH. pp. 1-25. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. [as Oreochromis mossambicus bassamkhalafi]

Contributions to BioLib

Help us to expand this encyclopedia! If you are logged in, you can add new subtaxa, vernacular and scientific names, texts, images or intertaxon relationships for this taxon.