Skip to main content

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

Synopsis

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References cited

  1. Abrams, R.W., M.D. Abrams & M.W. Schein. 1983. Diurnal observations on the behavioral ecology of Gymnothorax moringa (Cuvier) and Muraena miliaris (Kaup) on a Caribbean coral reef. Coral Reefs 1: 185–192.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bardach, J.E. & H.E. Winn. 1959. Differential food selection by moray eels and a possible role of the mucous envelope of parrot fishes in reduction of predation. Ecology 40: 296–298.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Barlow, G.W. 1974. Contrasts in social behavior between Central American cichlid fishes and coral reef surgeon fishes. Amer. Zool. 14: 9–34.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chave, E.H. & H.A. Randall. 1971. Feeding behavior of the moray eel Gymnothorax pictus. Copeia 1971: 570–574.

  5. Dubin, R.E. 1982. Behavioral interactions between Caribbean reef fish and eels (Muraenidae and Ophichthidae). Copeia 1982: 229–232.

  6. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. 1955. Über Symbiosen, Parasitismus und andere besondere zwischenartliche Beziehungen tropischer Meeresfishe. Z. Tierpsychol. 12: 203–219.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Fishelson, L. 1977. Sociobiology of feeding behavior of coral fish along the coral reef of the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea. Isr. J. Zool. 26: 114–134.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Fishelson, L. 1980. Partitioning and sharing of space and food resources by fishes. pp. 415–445. In: J.E. Bardach, J.J. Magnuson, R.C. May & J.M. Reinhart (ed.) Fish Behavior and Its Use in the Capture and Culture of Fishes, ICLARM Conference Proceedings 5, International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Fricke, H. 1972. The coral seas. Thames and Hudson, London. 224 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Harmelin-Vivien, M.L. & C. Bouchon. 1976. Feeding behavior of some carnivorous fishes (Serranidae and Scorpaenidae) from Tulear (Madagascar). Mar. Biol. 37: 329–340.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hiatt, R.W. & D.N. Strasburg. 1960. Ecological relationships of fish fauna on coral reefs of the Marshall Islands. Ecol. Monogr. 30: 65–127.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Karplus, I. 1978. A feeding association between the grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus) and the moray eel (Gymnothorax griseus). Copeia 1978: 164.

  13. Montgomery, W.L. 1975. Interspecific associations of sea basses (Serranidae) in the Gulf of California. Copeia 1975: 785–787.

  14. Ormond, R.F.G. 1980. Aggressive mimicry and other interspecific feeding associations among Red Sea coral reef predators. J. Zool. Lond. 191: 247–262.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Randall, J.E. & V.E. Brock. 1960. Observations on the ecology of epinepheline and lutjanid fishes of the Society Islands, with emphasis on food habits. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 89: 9–16.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Robertson, D.R., H.P.A. Sweatman, E.A. Fletcher & M.G. Cleland. 1976. Schooling as a mechanism for circumventing the territoriality of competitors. Ecology 57: 1208–1220.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Shpigel, M. 1978. The spatial heterogeneity in branching corals and fish species diversity. M.Sc. Thesis. Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv. 81 pp.

  18. Shpigel, M. 1980. Niche overlap among two species of coral dwelling fishes of the genus Dascyllus (Pomacentridae). Env. Biol. Fish. 7: 65–68.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Smith, C.L. & J.C. Tyler. 1972. Space resource sharing in a coral reef fish community. Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus., Los Angeles 14: 125–170.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Taylor, B.P. & L.C. Chen. 1969. The predator-prey relationship between the octopus (Octopus bimaculatus) and the California scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata). Pacific Science 3: 311–324.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00002584

Download citation

Keywords

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