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Interspecific feeding associations of groupers (Teleostei: Serranidae) with octopuses and moray eels in the Gulf of Eilat (Agaba)


Temporary interspecific feeding associations between groupers (Serranidae) and moray eels or octopuses in the Red Sea were observed 41 times during over 400 scuba dives. Such behavior is a feeding tactic adopted by groupers in which small organisms, escaping the primary (= nuclear) predators (eel or octopus), are caught by the groupers. Eels and octopuses, due to their body structure or shape, gain access to crevices that most fishes cannot enter. This feeding tactic increases the diversity of food resources used by their associates by making normally inaccessible food items available to them. Serranids from many parts of the world exploit normally unavailable food resources in this fashion. It appears that this is a learned behavior which increases food diversity and feeding efficiency.

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Diamant, A., Shpigel, M. Interspecific feeding associations of groupers (Teleostei: Serranidae) with octopuses and moray eels in the Gulf of Eilat (Agaba). Environ Biol Fish 13, 153–159 (1985).

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  • Nuclear predators
  • Learned behaviour
  • Enhanced feeding
  • Coral heads
  • Red Sea