Scientia Marina, Vol 72, No 2 (2008)

The feeding ecology of Aphanius fasciatus (Valenciennes, 1821) in the lagoonal system of Messolongi (western Greece)

Ioannis Leonardos
Biological Applications and Technology Department, University of Ioannina, Greece


The Mediterranean toothcarp Aphanius fasciatus (Valenciennes, 1821) is a small-sized omnivorous estuarine fish. Its diet is dominated by juveniles of shrimps (Palaemon adspersus), Isopods, Branchiopoda, Bivalvia, eggs of invertebrates, mosquitoes (adults and larvae) and diatoms. An ontogenetic diet shift with an increase in mean prey size with fish length was observed. Smaller fish feed on planktonic prey (e.g. copepods, ostracods, nauplii of Artemia), while larger fish prefer larger and more benthic preys (e.g. ampipods, Bivalvia). The diet of A. fasciatus shows a high degree of seasonal variation, with a reduction in the feeding activity during the periods of adverse environmental conditions (winter and autumn). It is a well-adapted estuarine fish, its feeding mode and preferences depending on the preys that are available. Its feeding strategy is characterised by specialisation in different resource types (aquatic invertebrates and mosquitoes) and a high between-phenotype contribution (BPC) to niche width, with specialised individuals showing little or no overlap in resource use.


Aphanius fasciatus; feeding strategy; intraspecific variation; feeding ecology; lagoon.

Full Text:



Al-Daham, N.K., M.F. Huq and K.P. Sharma. – 1977. Notes on the ecology of fishes of genus Aphanius and Gambusia affinis in Southern Iraq. Freshw. Biol., 7: 245-251.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.1977.tb01672.x

Alcaraz, C. and E. Garcia-Berthou. – 2007. Food of an endangered cyprinodont (Aphanius iberus): ontogenetic diet shift and prey electivity. Environ. Biol. Fish., 78: 193-207.doi:10.1007/s10641-006-0018-0

Amundsen, P.A., H.M. Gabler and F.J. Staldvik. – 1996. A new approach to graphical analysis of feeding strategy from stomach contents data – modification of the Costello (1990) method. J. Fish Biol., 48: 607-614.

Baillie, J. and B. Groombridge. – 1996. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN Publications Service Unit, Cambridge, UK.

Bianco, P.G. – 1995. Mediterranean endemic freshwater fishes of Italy. Biol. Conserv., 72: 159-170.doi:10.1016/0006-3207(94)00078-5

Caiola, N., M.J. Vargas and A. de Sostoa. – 2001. Feeding ecology of the endangered Valencia toothcarp, Valencia hispanica (Actinopterygii: Valenciidae) Hydrobiologia, 448: 97-105.doi:10.1023/A:1017584903305

Council of Europe. – 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora. Off. J.E.C., Ser. L 206: 7-50.

Council of Europe. – 2000. The Bern Convention. [access date: 11/7/2002].

Crivelli, A.J. and V. Boy. – 1987. The diet of the mosquitofish Gambusia affinis (Baird & Girard) (Poeciliidae) in Mediterranean France. La Terre et la Vie, Rev. d’Ecol. Appl., 42: 421-435.

Cortés, E. – 1997. A critical review of methods of studying fish feeding based on analysis of stomach contents: application to elasmobranch fishes. Can. J. Fish Aquat. Sci., 54: 726-738.doi:10.1139/cjfas-54-3-726

Cushing, D.H. – 1977 Observations on fish shoals with the ARL Scanner, Rapp. P.-v. Réun. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer. 170(1977): 15-20.

Eggers, D.M. – 1977. The nature of prey selection by planktivorous fish. Ecology, 58: 46-59.doi:10.2307/1935107

Fry, F.E. – 1971. The effects of environmental factors on the physiology of fish. In: W. S. Hoar and D. J. Randall (eds.), Fish Physiol., pp 1-99. New York Academic Press.

Garcıa-Berthou, E. – 1999. Food of introduced mosquitofish: ontogenetic diet shift and prey selection. J. Fish Biol., 55:135-147.

Gerking, S.D. – 1994. Feeding Ecology of Fish. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Grossman, G.D., R, Coffin and P.B. Moyle. – 1980. Feeding ecology of the bay goby (Pisces: Gobidae). Effects of behavioural, ontogenic and temporal variation on diet. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 44: 47-59.doi:10.1016/0022-0981(80)90100-8

Haas, R. – 1982. Notes on the ecology of Aphanius dispar (Pisces, Cyprinodontidae) in the Sultanate of Oman. Freshwater Biol., 12: 89-95.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.1982.tb00605.x

Helfman, G.S. – 1978. Patterns of community structure in fishes: summary and overview. Envir. Biol. Fish, 3: 129-148.doi:10.1007/BF00006313

Hulbert, S.H. – 1971. The nonoconcept of species diversity: a critique and alternative parameters. Ecology, 52: 577-586.doi:10.2307/1934145

Hyslop, E.J. – 1980. Stomach contents analysis: a review of methods and their application. J. Fish. Biol., 17: 411-429.doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1980.tb02775.x

Kneib, R.T. – 1978. Habitat, diet, reproduction and growth of the spotfin killfish, Fundulus luciae, from a North Carolina Salt Marsh. Copeia, 1: 164-168.doi:10.2307/1443844

Kneib, R.T. – 1986. The role of Fundulus heteroclitus in Salt Marsh Trophic Dynamics. Am. Zool., 26: 259-269.

Leonardos, I. – 1996. Population dynamics of Aphanius fasciatus (Nardo, 1827) in Messolongi and Etolikon Lagoons. PhD thesis. Aristotelian Univ. of Thessaloniki 197 pp. (In Greek).

Leonardos, I. and A. Sinis. – 1998. Reproductive strategy of Aphanius fasciatus Nardo, 1827 (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae) in the Messolongi and Etolikon lagoons (W. Greece) Fish. Res., 35:171-181.doi:10.1016/S0165-7836(98)00082-4

Leonardos, I. and A. Sinis. – 1999. Population age and sex structure of Aphanius fasciatus Nardo, 1827 (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae) in the Messolongi and Etolikon lagoons (W. Greece). Fish. Res., 40: 227-235.doi:10.1016/S0165-7836(98)00231-8

Leonardos, I., A. Sinis and D. Petridis. – 1996. Influence of Environmental factors on the population dynamics of Aphanius fasciatus (Nardo, 1827). (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae) in the Lagoons Mesolongi and Etolikon (W.Greece). Israel J. Zool., 42: 231-249.

Lindegaard, C. – 1992. Zoobenthos ecology of Thingvallavatn: vertical distribution, abundance, population dynamics and production. Oikos, 64: 257-304.doi:10.2307/3545055

Pinkas, L.M., S. Oliphant and I.L. Iverson. – 1971. Food habits of albacore, bluefin tuna and bonito in Californian waters. Calif. Fish. Game, 152: 1-105.

Platell, M.E. and I.C. Potter. – 1998. Distributions, size compositions and diets of two abundant benthic ambush-feeding teleosts in coastal waters of south-western Australia. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK., 78: 587-608.

Rohwer, S. – 1978. Parent cannibalism of offspring and egg raiding as a courtship strategy. Am. Nat., 112: 429-440.doi:10.1086/283284

Stoner, A.W. – 2004. Effects of environmental variables on fish feeding ecology: implications for the performance of baited fishing gear and stock assessment. J. Fish Biol., 65: 1445-1471.doi:10.1111/j.0022-1112.2004.00593.x

Valdes Szeinfeld E. – 1993. The energetics and evolution of intraspecific predation (egg cannibalism) in the anchovy Engraulis capensis. Mar. Biol. 115: 301-308.doi:10.1007/BF00346348

Ward, A.J., M.M.Webster and P.J. Hart. – 2006. Intraspecific food competition in fishes. Fish Fish., 7: 231-261.doi:10.1111/j.1467-2979.2006.00224.x

Whitehead, P.J., M.L. Bauchot, J.C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese. – 1986. Fishes of the North-Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Vol. 2. UNESCO, Paris.

Williams, M.D. and W.D. Williams. – 1991. Salinity tolerances of four species of fish from the Murray-Darling River system. Hydrobiologia, 210: 145-160.

Yan, M, Z. Li, B. Xiong and J. Zhu. – 2004. Effects of salinity on food intake, growth, and survival of pufferfish (Fugu obscurus). J. Appl. Ichthyol., 20: 146-149.doi:10.1046/j.1439-0426.2003.00512.x

Copyright (c) 2008 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support