The growth dispersion of farmed fish is a subject of increasing interest and one of the most important factors in stocking density. On a duration of 60 days, the effect of stocking density on the growth, coefficient of variation and inter-individual variation of feed intake (CVFI) of juvenile Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus L. (14.9 ± 1.2 g) were studied in an experimental tank-based flow-through system. Groups of fish were stocked at four stocking densities: 200, 400, 600 and 800 fish/m3, corresponding to a density of ∼3, 6, 9 and 12 kg/m3 and referred to as D1, D2, D3 and D4, respectively. Each treatment was applied to triplicate groups in a completely randomized design. No treatment-related mortality was observed. The fish densities increased throughout the experiment from 3 to 23.5, 6 to 43.6, 9 to 56.6 and 12 to 69 kg/m3. Results show that mass gain and specific growth rate (SGR, %M/day) were negatively correlated with increased stocking density. Groups of the D1 treatment reached a mean final body mass (FBM) of 119.3 g v. 88.9 g for the D4 groups. Feed conversion ratios (FCRs) were 1.38, 1.54, 1.62 and 1.91 at D1, D2, D3 and D4 treatments, respectively. Growth heterogeneity, expressed by the inter-individual variations of fish mass (CVM), was significantly affected by time (P < 0.001), stocking density (P < 0.001) and their interaction (P < 0.05). The difference in CVM was particularly conspicuous towards the end of the experiment and was positively correlated with stocking density. Similarly, radiographic study shows that CVFI was also found to be significantly greater for groups reared at high stocking densities (D3 and D4) than the other treatments (D1 and D2). These differences in both CVM and CVFI related to the stocking density need to be taken into account by husbandry practices to assure the production of more homogeneous fish size. A simple economic analysis indicates a parabolic relationship between profit and density with optimal final density at the peak of the curve. Given reasonable assumptions about production costs, the optimal final density (Dopt) is 73.7 kg/m3. A sensitivity analysis shows that changes in the fixed cost have no effects on the optimal final density. However, small change in variable costs, such as feed and juvenile costs, may have substantial effect on the optimal density.