Foraging behavior of the scale-eater Plecodus straeleni (Cichlidae, Teleostei) in Lake Tanganyika, Africa

By Nshombo, M.

Environmental Biology of Fishes, v. 39(n. 1), pp. 59-72 (Jan-1994)


" Sixty-nine individuals of Plecodus straeleni were followed for 1 h each in the field with the aid of SCUBA, and time budgets, hunting techniques and prey selection were investigated in relation to sex and body size. The time of cruising in midwater and on the substrate amounted to 3/4 of the total time. The rest of the time was mainly spent on five hunting techniques named pursuing, waiting, mingling, aiming and stealthy approaching. Pursuing (following a flying prey at high speed) was frequently used by adults, especially males, mainly to attack the spiny eel Afromastacembelus moorii. Waiting (keeping motionless on the substrate, waiting for a known prey) was used by some adult females when they tried to steal eggs of the mouthbrooder Cyathopharynx furcifer on the bower and by adult males when they targeted an eel having hidden under a rock. Mingling (mixing in a school of prey to attack school members) was a favorite tactic of subadults to attack plankton-feeders. Aiming (directing the head to a target fish for a moment) commonly occurred when both adults and subadults attacked solitary fishes. In stealthy approaching, the scale-eater approached an unwary prey from behind or sideway. Attacks by these hunting techniques amounted to 97% of the total attacks, which were made on 38 cichlid species and 7 non-cichlid species. Hunting techniques and prey preference varied not only with sex and size but even among consexuals of similar sizes. A number of individuals successively attacked only one or a few prey species in 1 h. Food specialization among individuals was attributed to their learning of the behavior and life style of preferred prey species. "

Classification: Behavior, Lake Tanganyika.

Language: English

Nshombo, M.. 1994. "Foraging behavior of the scale-eater Plecodus straeleni (Cichlidae, Teleostei) in Lake Tanganyika, Africa". Environmental Biology of Fishes. v. 39(n. 1), pp. 59-72 (crc03798) (abstract)