Division of Fisheries Research, CSIRO Marine Laboratories, G.P.O. Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
The food, feeding habits and feeding structures of the whiting species Sillago sihama (Forsskål) and Sillago analis Whitley from Townsville, North Queensland, Australia
Article first published online: 24 JAN 2006
Journal of Fish Biology
Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 411–427, April 1985
How to Cite
Gunn, J. S. and Milward, N. E. (1985), The food, feeding habits and feeding structures of the whiting species Sillago sihama (Forsskål) and Sillago analis Whitley from Townsville, North Queensland, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology, 26: 411–427. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.1985.tb04281.x
- Issue published online: 24 JAN 2006
- Article first published online: 24 JAN 2006
- (Received 4 April 1984, Accepted 12 June 1984)
The diet, feeding habits and feeding structures of 519 Sillago sihama and 493 S. analis specimens collected from beaches and estuaries in the Townsville region are described. The species are carnivores on a wide range of benthic, epibenthic and planktonic prey. Both undergo size related dietary shifts; S. sihama from predominantly planktonic crustaceans in fish of less than 80 mm t.l. to polychaetes, penaeid and brachyuran crustaceans and molluscs at larger sizes; S. analis from a mixture of small Mesodesma eltanae and amphipods at sizes of less than 80 mm t.l. to predominantly M. eltanae and small quantities of penaeids and brachyuran crabs in larger fish. The dietary shift was not associated with migration from a nursery area.
While the species showed considerable overlap in the types of prey utilized, there were significant differences in the relative importance of shared components in their diets. The major difference was in the relative importance of the bivalve mollusc, M. eltanae. This was the dominant food of S. analis but of secondary importance in S. sihama. Associated with this basic difference in diet was a specialization of the pharyngeal dentition in S. analis to molariform crushing plates and a reduction of the gill rakers to vestigial knobs. In S. sihama, the pharyngeal teeth are sharp and pointed and the gill rakers normal.
The feeding activity of S. analis, but not S. sihama, is limited by the tidal cycle, a factor which may be a form of temporal partitioning.