Feeding Electivity Indices in Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) of The Florida Keys
Three species of surgeonfish Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang) (Block and Schneider), A. bahianus (ocean surgeonfish) (Castelnau), and A. chirurgus (doctorfish) (Block) were captured in the waters of the Florida Keys (24°03′N, 81°40′W). In total, 39 of these fish were captured between March and December of 1999. Items found in the stomachs of these fish were identified and analyzed for percent occurrence. These values were compared to percent occurrence values of the same items from random bottom transects taken at the point of capture to quantify any forage selectivity or avoidance behavior of these fish. A. bahianus selected for sand and chlorophytes and avoided phaeophytes. A. chirurgus also showed selection for sand and chlorophytes, while 58% of those sampled selected for phaeophytes and 42% avoided them. A. coeruleus avoided sand and selected for rhodophytes and chlorophytes. Phaeophytes were also selected for in 80% of A. coeruleus sampled. Understanding food preferences of free-ranging Florida surgeonfish may provide insight to improve nutritional management of captive herbivorous reef fish.