Feeding ecology and diet

The Ambassidae preys upon benthic invertebrates; freshwater species will also feed upon aquatic and terrestrial insects, and algae. Feeding activity occurs during the night and, to a lesser extent, during the day. Predators include larger fishes, wading and diving birds, and, in freshwater habitats, reptiles. The Polyprionidae feeds upon benthic fishes, cephalopods, and large crustaceans. Predators are likely larger fishes that feed upon juveniles, but some toothed whales, including sperm whales, prey upon adults. Many members of the Serranidae are predators upon smaller fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Others, particularly members of the subfamily Anthiinae, are planktivores that feed upon zooplankton in the water column. Larger fishes, including sharks and even other serranids, are predators upon these fishes. With the exception of the anthiines, most predation likely takes place upon juveniles, however. The Callanthiidae feeds upon zooplankton, mainly crustaceans. Predators of juveniles and adults include larger fishes that forage in the water column during daylight. The Pseudochromidae and Plesiopidae feed upon benthic invertebrates and small fishes. They likely fall prey to benthic ambush predators such as groupers and scorpionfishes. The Glaucosomatidae feeds upon smaller fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Members of this family may be preyed upon by larger fishes; juveniles are likely to be more susceptible. The Opistognathidae feeds upon benthic invertebrates but also plucks zooplankton out of the water column. Predators of adults likely include ambush predators such as groupers, and possibly moray eels and sea snakes that investigate their burrows.

Fishes of the family Priacanthidae are nocturnal predators that feed upon both invertebrates and smaller fishes. In turn, they likely fall prey to larger predatory fishes. The Apogonidae feeds mainly upon zooplankton or benthic invertebrates, usually at night, but members of the genus Cheilodipterus are predatory upon smaller fishes as well. Predators of apogonids are usually larger ambush and foraging fishes such as groupers, scorpionfishes, and trevallys. Members of the Sillaginidae feed upon benthic invertebrates that they take from sand or other soft sediments. Predators include larger roving predatory fishes. The Malacanthidae feeds upon benthic invertebrates or zooplankton. Members of this family are likely preyed upon by larger fishes, especially when young. The Rachycentridae feeds upon smaller fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans in the water column or around structure. Juveniles are probably more susceptible to predation from other pelagic fishes than adults, although sharks might prey upon the latter. Most members of the Carangidae are swift-moving predators of smaller fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Some species feed exclusively in the pelagic realm, while most others feed on benthic or epiben-thic prey. Members of the genus Decapterus strain zooplankton from the water column. Juvenile Scomberoides feed on the scales of inshore fishes such as mullets (Mugiloididae). The pilotfish, Naucrates ductor, accompanies sharks and feeds upon scraps leftover by these predators. This, and some other species in this family, will also swim alongside rays while foraging opportunistically for prey disturbed by the rays' movements. Carangids, especially juveniles and smaller species, are preyed upon by larger fishes and may also fall prey to some dolphins or other smaller toothed-whales.

Both the Menidae and Leiognathidae forage upon benthic invertebrates, although members of the latter family may also feed upon larger zooplankton in the water column at night. They may be preyed upon by larger fishes, such as sharks and mackerels. The Bramidae feeds upon small fishes, large planktonic crustaceans, and cephalopods in the water column. Larger pelagic fishes likely prey upon them in return. Most species of Lutjanidae are predatory upon smaller fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, or worms. A number are planktivores, however. Members of this family are susceptible to predation by larger fishes, especially when juveniles or young adults. The Caesionidae feeds in schools or aggregations upon zooplankton in the water column. Larger pelagic or epibenthic fishes are their predators. The Lobotidae feeds upon benthic crustaceans and small fishes inshore or near floating objects and Sargassum patches in the open sea. Members of this family often float sideways to mimic plant life, such as leaves or fronds, and then ambush their prey. Juveniles are probably more susceptible to predation than adults, although the latter may be preyed upon when drifting near the surface by pelagic predators. Members of the Gerreidae use their protrusible mouths to root out, sort, and feed upon benthic invertebrates from sand or other soft sediments. They are preyed upon by larger roving or ambush predatory fishes. Members of the family Haemulidae are accomplished at feeding upon hard-shelled benthic invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans, but some species also feed upon smaller fishes and benthic worms. Juveniles are likely to be more susceptible to predation than adults in the larger species; otherwise, larger fishes are their chief predators. The Dinopercidae also feeds upon benthic invertebrates and possibly smaller fishes. Their predators are doubtless larger fishes, and juveniles are more likely to be preyed upon than adults. The Sparidae usually feeds upon hard-shelled benthic invertebrates (mollusks and crustaceans). Their main predators are probably larger fishes.

The Lethrinidae usually feeds at night upon smaller fishes and benthic invertebrates that range from crustaceans and mollusks to polychaete worms, tunicates, and starfishes and their relatives. Larger fishes, including roving and ambush predators, are their likely predators, and juveniles are probably more susceptible to predation than adults. The Ne-mipteridae also has a variable diet, for these fishes feed upon crustaceans, polychaete worms, cephalopods, or small fishes; some species feed upon zooplankton. Members of this family are preyed upon by larger fishes. The Polynemidae sifts through soft sediments with elongated pelvic fin rays in search of benthic invertebrates and small fishes. Larger fishes such as sharks, and, depending upon the locality, large carnivorous reptiles such as estuarine crocodiles likely prey upon these fishes. Juveniles probably fall prey to ambush or roving predatory fishes such as flatheads (Platycephalidae) and trevallys (Carangidae). The Sciaenidae consists of benthic predators of small fishes, crustaceans, and other benthic invertebrates. Their predators range from larger fishes to wading birds.

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