Effects of feeding history on the growth characteristics of a reef fish at settlement

McCormick, M.I., and Molony, B.W. (1992) Effects of feeding history on the growth characteristics of a reef fish at settlement. Marine Biology, 114 (1). pp. 165-173.

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Abstract

A feeding experiment was conducted on the pelagic stages of the tropical goatfish Upeneus tragula (family Mullidae) to examine how food quantity affects growth characteristics and potential success at settlement. Pelagic goatfish were collected from aggregation rafts 3 nautical miles west of Lizard Island on the northern Great Barrier Reef during December 1990. Three tanks in each of four feeding regimes were stocked with 25 pelagic goatfish between 20 and 23 mm standard length (SL). The four feeding regimes were: fed ad lib. (fed): fed once per day (f1pd); starved every second day (stld); starved for 3 d and re-fed (st3d). Fishes were fed 36 to 48 h old Artemia sp. nauplii (Ocean Star strain). Fish were removed from tanks when they underwent metamorphosis, changed pigmentation and settled to the bottom of the tanks. Morphology, muscle development, time taken to settle and biochemical condition were examined. Growth attributes of the treated fish were compared to fish which settled within 24 h of capture (field). All attributes examined were significantly influenced by the feeding treatments. Fish within the fed and st3d treatments were significantly larger and heavier than fish in the less well-fed treatments (f1pd, st1d). Similarly, concentrations of total lipid, carbohydrate and protein in the settled fish were significantly higher in the fed and st3d treatments compared with the st1d and f1pd treatments. For all these morphological and biochemical attributes the st1d and f1pd fish did not significantly differ from the field fishes, but did differ from the fed and st3d fishes. Water content was significantly higher in the f1pd, st1d and field fishes compared with the fed and st3d fish. Furthermore, the average time taken to settle followed the pattern: fed (14d)<st3d (16d)<st1d (22d)<f1pd (24d). Muscle development mirrored the patterns in fish length between treatments, being more developed in the fed treatment and least well developed in the st1d treatment. Feeding rate differed significantly between treatments and changed through the experiment for all but the fed treatment. Feeding rate decreased slightly for the f1pd and st1d treatments over the experimental period, but increased rapidly for the st3d treatment. The experiment suggests that U. tragula are physiologically well suited to exploiting a patchy food source, and that food availability within the pelagic stages can have a major influence on the growth characteristics of this reef fish at settlement. The ramifications of this finding are discussed in relation to survival and success once fish have recruited to the reef population.

Item ID: 24498
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1793
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Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 06:02
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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