Full paper

Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 375-381

First online:

Selective ingestion of detritus by a north temperate omnivorous fish, the juvenile white sucker, Catostomus commersoni

  • Molly O. AhlgrenAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University

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The capacity of the juvenile white sucker, Catostomus commersoni, to feed selectively on detritus was examined by analyzing gut contents of fish feeding in a northern Michigan pond and in laboratory aquaria. Suckers selected fine particle detritus. The median length of detritus particles consumed by pond suckers ranged from 26–38 μm for all seasons sampled. Although suckers in the pond ingested invertebrates > 215 μm they never ingested detritus particles > 215 μm. Suckers fed pond detritus in laboratory aquaria selectively ingested the fine particle fraction (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, p < 0.0001). Suckers excluded particles > 220 μm and ingested a median particle size of 54 μm. Amorphous detritus particles comprised 100% of the detritus particles in 93% of the foreguts analyzed. Suckers fed fine particle (< 45 ) pond detritus in laboratory aquaria rejected the inorganic fraction and selectively ingested organicmaterial with the highest protein and energy content. Ash free dry mass (AFDM) as a percent of dry-mass was 2.6 times greater in the foregut contents than in the detritus (p < 0.001). The amino acid concentration and energy density of the ingested organic matter were 1.9 times higher (p < 0.044) and 1.3 times higher (p < 0.025) than the respective amino acid and energy content of the organic fraction of the detritus. These results indicate that suckers have the capacity to consume selectively fine particle detritus with the highest nutritional value.

Key words

Feeding ecology Catostomidae Fish Detritivore Food quality Diet selection