Diet of anguilloid larvae: leptocephali feed selectively on larvacean houses and fecal pellets

Abstract

Gut contents of 234 leptocephali comprising eight species of eels were examined from five families (Congridae, Muraenidae, Muraenesocidae, Nettastomatidae, and Ophichthidae). The larvae belonged to developing leptocephalus (215 specimens) and the early metamorphic stage (19 specimens). Visible gut contents were recognized in 111 individuals among the eight species, regardless of developmental stage. Two kinds of visible objects, transparent (0.4 to 1.2 mm) and opaque (20 to 380 μm), were found in the gut of leptocephali. From their morphological characteristics, the former and the latter were identified as larvacean houses and zooplankton fecal pellets, respectively. Furthermore, most fecal pellets in the gut were identified as oikopleurid larvacean's fecal pellets. No trace of the many other phytoplankton or zooplankton, which were found with leptocephali in the ambient waters and could be suitable-size food, was found in the gut of any leptocephalus. On the basis of the importance of larvecean houses in the diet of several species of leptocephalus larvae, it is proposed that the peculiar, large, fang-like teeth of leptocephali are used for feeding, and evolved to pierce and grasp the mucous houses of larvaceans.

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Correspondence to N. Mochioka.

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Communicated by T. Ikeda, Hiroshima

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Mochioka, N., Iwamizu, M. Diet of anguilloid larvae: leptocephali feed selectively on larvacean houses and fecal pellets. Marine Biology 125, 447–452 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00353257

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Keywords

  • Phytoplankton
  • Developmental Stage
  • Morphological Characteristic
  • Fecal Pellet
  • Visible Object