The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 57 Number 2: 103-107 - December 1995

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Effects of Feeding Regime on Prey Consumption and Weight Change Rates in Captive Southern Cavefish, Typhlichthys subterraneus Girard (Pisces: Percopsiformes: Amblyopsidae)
Alex L.S. Schubert and Douglas B. Noltie


Relatively little is known of the feeding ecology of the southern cavefish, Typhlichthys subterraneus, particularly in captivity. This study examined prey consumption and weight change rates in 15 individuals maintained in the laboratory at 17C. The prey used were epigean amphipods, Hyalella azteca, provided ad libitum. Two contrasting feeding regimes were employed, one involving daily assessment of consumption rates and prey replenishment (daily assessment technique), the other involving variably longer intervals between assessment and replenishment (multi-day assessment technique). The latter technique, which resulted in slight increases in the mean daily rates of relative weight change, appears to be superior for captive maintenance, probably because it subjects the fish to less frequent disturbance. Prey consumption rates were low under both experimental regimes, consistent with suggestions that cavefish have evolved a relatively low metabolic rate in their food-poor subterranean environments. These data provide benchmarks for assessing routine prey consumption and for monitoring the health and vigor of captive individuals.

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