Papers/Abstracts

The Noronha wrasse: a “jack-of-all-trades” follower

Sazima, Cristina, Bolando, Roberta Martini, Krajewsk, João Paulo and Ivan Sazima

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 97-108, Volume 9, Issue 3 – March 2005

Abstract

Following association between reef fishes involves opportunistic predators following one or more foraging nuclear species (mainly bottom-diggers). The followers benefit from food uncovered or flushed out when reef fishes disturb the bottom. At the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, south-west Atlantic, we recorded the plankton eater, benthic invertebrate picker, and cleaner wrasse Thalassoma noronhanum, commonly known as the Noronha wrasse, acting as a very flexible feeder – a kind of “jack-of-all-trades” – while following reef fishes. The Noronha wrasse associated with 15 reef fish species, feeding on drifting particles made available as the latter foraged on the bottom. The wrasse displayed four types of feeding behaviour while following foraging reef fishes: 1) eating particles stirred up; 2) eating particles expelled by the foraging fish; 3) eating faecal particles; 4) cleaning fish. The wrasse was commonly recorded following the parrotfishes Sparisoma frondosum, S. axillare, S. amplum, and the grunt Haemulon parra. The variable feeding behaviour here recorded for T. noronhanum while following reef fishes seems rare among follower fish species. Nevertheless, some wrasse species have very opportunistic foraging habits as well, which render them likely candidates to display flexible feeding behaviour.

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