Red tilapia has aroused interest in many countries for its commercial potential. This tilapia strain combines a desirable coloration and appearance with other advantageous farming characteristics. To study the early appearance of melanophore pigmentation in tilapia, a red tilapia strain originating from Thailand and a wild type coloration of Oreochromis niloticus were used as broodstock to produce artificially wild x wild and red x red progenies. The larvae were assessed periodically up to the first feeding and were recorded. Wild type fish showed a regular appearance of stellate melanophores. In the red strain, the pattern of chromatophores varies from total absence of black spotting to different degrees of macromelanophore distribution. Comparison between red and wild types showed that these two tilapia can be easily scored at day 7. Further, we present indications that the pigmentation over the body develops independently of the initial degree of pigmentation.