Aquaculture production of high-quality marine fish larvae might be hampered by poor success in larval initiation of exogenous feeding or the lack of appropriate live feed in their first feeding period. The period of larval metamorphosis may further constrain the successful rearing of flatfish larvae. In order to ascertain changes in feeding during metamorphosis of flatfish, we here compared feeding behavior when larvae of turbot Psetta maxima were either swimming upright or tilted. Using video recordings, we compared the attack rate and prey capture success between flexion (12-13 days-post-hatch, stage 4b-4c) swimming predominantly in upright position and post-flexion (16-17 days-post-hatch, stage 5a-5b) larvae in tilted swimming mode. Both larval groups were fed on copepod nauplii and copepodites. Our results showed a capture success of <50% during the flexion stage, increasing to 73% in the post-flexion stage, and larvae were more successful when feeding on nauplii than when offered copepodite stages. An ontogenetic shift from intermittent to cruise swimming was observed during the metamorphosis concomitant with improved hunting skills. Thus larvae appeared to be able to successfully complete metamorphosis without compromising their feeding ability on copepod prey.
- Capture success
- Feeding behavior