oa African Zoology - The diets of fish in three south-western Cape estuarine systems

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



The stomach contents of 2756 fish of 14 species taken by seine and gill netting in the Bot River, Kleinmond and Palmiet estuaries on the south-western Cape coast of South Africa were examined. The small juveniles of all species consumed primarily zooplankton before switching to their adult diets. Seven of the species, Atherina breviceps, Caffrogobius multifasciatus, Clinus spatulatus, Galeichthys feliceps, Gilchnstella aestuaria, Monodactylus falciformis, Psammogobius knysnaensis and Syngnathus acus were carnivores which fed primarily on invertebrates; two, Hyporhamphus capensis and Sarpa salpa, were herbivores; three, Lithganathus lithognathus, Rhabdosargus globiceps and R. holubi were omnivores and two, Lichia amia and Pomatomus saltatrix were piscivores. Within these trophic groupings variations in the diets of fish from the different estuaries were noted as were changes in diet with season. Differences between estuaries were ascribed primarily to food availability and differences in the size ranges of the fish species sampled in them. Differences in the diet between size classes were primarily due to an increasing ability to handle larger food items. The few seasonal differences in diet that occurred appeared not to conform to any observable pattern. Twelve food categories provided > 1 % of food consumed by at least one species and each of these categories was represented in the guts of between 9 and 14 of the fish species examined. Six of the prey categories, Isopoda, Amphipoda, Decapoda, Teleostei, Algae and Spermatophyta each provided > 10% of the food consumed by all 14 species combined.

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