Does reservoir trophic status influence the feeding and growth of the sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Teleostei: Clariidae)?
AbstractThe diet and growth of sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus, in an oligotrophic system (Kat River Reservoir, Eastern Cape, South Africa) were compared to those in a eutrophic system (Laing Reservoir, Eastern Cape) to determine if the trophic status of a waterbody had an effect on the growth rate of the species. In order of importance, the diet of catfish in Kat River Reservoir consisted of fish, insects, zooplankton, plant material and other items, while the diet of catfish in Laing Reservoir consisted of fish, plant material, zooplankton, other vertebrates and insects. The diets of catfish in the two reservoirs had a similarity index of 68.1% and there was no significant difference in their nutritional value. Fish prey was the most important dietary component in both reservoirs. Temperature regime and zooplankton and zoobenthos density were similar in both systems. However, fish prey density was significantly higher in the eutrophic Laing Reservoir and catfish grew significantly faster in that system. The slower growth rate in Kat River Reservoir was attributed to the higher energy costs associated with the capture of fish prey, which was less abundant than in Laing Reservoir. Trophic status therefore had an indirect effect on catfish growth by influencing the availability of fish prey.
Keywords: diet, Eastern Cape Province, growth rate, gut content analysis, impoundments, ontogenetic shift
African Journal of Aquatic Science 2008, 33(2): 149–156