Improvement of fillet traits and flesh quality attributes are of great interest in farmed tilapia and other aquaculture species. The main objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for fillet traits (fillet weight and fillet yield) and the fat content of fillets from 1136 males combined with 2585 data records on growth traits (body weight at 290 days, weight at slaughter, and daily weight gain) of 1485 males and 1100 females from a third generation of the Aquaamerica tilapia strain. Different models were tested for each trait, and the best models were used to estimate genetic parameters for the fat content, fillet, and growth traits. Genetic and phenotypic correlations were estimated using two-trait animal models. The heritability estimates were moderate for the fat content of fillets and fillet yield (0.2–0.32) and slightly higher for body weight at slaughter (0.41). The genetic correlation between fillet yield and fat was significant (0.6), but the genetic correlations were not significant between body weight and fillet yield, body weight and fat content, daily weight gain and fillet yield, and daily weight gain and fat content (− 0.032, − 0.1, − 0.09, and − 0.4, respectively). Based on the genetic correlation estimates, it is unlikely that changes in fillet yield and fat content will occur when using growth performance as a selection criterion, but indirect changes may be expected in fat content if selecting for higher fillet yield.
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