The diets of littoral fish from the Cape Peninsula
Intertidal fish communities in the south·western Cape have a high density and biomass, implying that the fish are important consumers in the ntertidal zone. Stomach content analyses of 20 species were undertaken to ascertain which food resources are most heavily exploited and the extent to which the co-existing fish compete for the same food resources. Three prey types, arnphipods, isopods and polychaetes, occur in the diets of almost all the species examined and together comprise more than half the total volume consumed by 14 of the species. Despite the overlap in food types consumed, there was considerable subdivision of the resource, much of which may be explained in terms of horizontal and vertical distribution patterns of the various fish species, their habitat preferences, mouth sizes and changes in diet during growth. The standing stock of food in the pools is thought to be too low to support the resident fish populations, suggesting that some food, at least, is obtained outside the pools while the tide is in. For this reason, the fish are considered to be concentrated in the pools at low tide, indicating that the availability of suitable pool habitats may be important in con· trolling the denSities of intertidal fish communities.