Feeding ecology and diet

Beryciformes feed on small fishes and various invertebrates. The shallow-dwellers are primarily nocturnal feeders, although some will feed on invertebrates passing through their diurnal retreats. For example, squirrelfishes primarily dine on the small fishes, various crabs, shrimps, and other crustaceans and zooplankton they find in the reef at night, but will take an invertebrate during the day if one happens to wander nearby.

A pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) hides during the day in a rocky opening. (Illustration by Wendy Baker)

Fishes in this order are known by their large eyes, which allow them to see in low-light conditions. Some have the added advantage of light organs, which assist in finding and perhaps attracting prey. Species in the Monocentridae and Anomalopidae use their light organs to fill their diet of crustaceans. The Australian pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) has light organs near the mouth and uses them like bluish spotlights at night when it ventures out from its cave hideout to find food. The similar-appearing pineconefish (Monocentris japonica) is believed to use its light organs to lure light-responsive prey after it has seen them rather than to find them in the first place.

Predators for these fishes may include sea birds for shallow-dwelling species, as well as many of the larger, piscivorous fishes of their habitat.

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