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Laboratory experiments showed that, of zooplanktivorous roach, rudd and perch, in the absence of any environmental structure roach were the most efficient feeders, but high densities of simulated submerged marcrophytes elevated perch to this position; rudd matched the performances of perch and roach only at intermediate structure densities. These changes in efficiency rankings with increased structure were the result of overall decreases in the performances of roach and rudd. Simulated water lilies and emergent reeds had their own influences on consumption rate. These effects were largely mediated through relationships between structure density and swimming speed; roach and rudd, not perch, showed reduced swimming speeds in the more structured environments. Observations of the routine behaviour of the fish suggest that their assessment of predation risk may be an important factor in determining their activity level and hence foraging strategy.