The feeding ecology of the Central American cichlid Cichlasoma urophthalmus (Gunther)



The feeding habits of the cichlid Cichlasoma urophthalmus were studied in a brackish-water lagoon in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, from spring 1985 to spring 1986. The strong mandibular, maxillary and pharyngeal teeth, and the short intestine strongly suggest that C. urophthalmus is primarily a carnivore. Subsequent gut contents analysis revealed that this species feeds principally on invertebrates throughout the year and that there were few differences between the five seasons studied. The algal material found in some stomachs may be consumed as a consequence of predation on small invertebrates, but the feeding structures and short intestine makes this species unable to digest vegetable materials efficiently. Differences with other cichlids used in aquaculture are discussed.