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Reproduction and food habits of 7 species of northern gulf of mexico fishes



Reproduction and food habits of 7 species of northern gulf of mexico fishes



Contributions in Marine Science 27: 175-204



Sex ratios, length-weight relationships, maturation, fecundity and food habits were determined from 7400 individuals of 7 spp. of inner continental shelf fishes. Samples were taken from trawl catches at depths of 9-91 m between Pensacola Bay, Florida and Brownsville, Texas [USA] and from the Campeche Bank, Mexico during Oct. 1980-June 1982. Sex ratios favored males in silver seatrout, Cynoscion nothus, and Atlantic cutlassfish, Trichiurus lepturus, favored females in Atlantic croaker, Micropogonias undulatus, hardhead catfish Arius felis and longspine porgy, Stenotomus caprinus, but were equal in sand seatrout, C. arenarius, and spot, Leiostomus xanthurus. Peak gonadal development was found during spring in longspine porgy, summer in hardhead catfish, spring and late summer in sand and silver seatrouts, spring through fall in Atlantic cutlassfish, and fall in spot and Atlantic croaker. The first Gulf of Mexico fecundity data for 6 of these species (2nd record for hardhead catfish) indicated the following maximum fecundities: hardhead catfish-104 eggs; Atlantic cutlassfish-42,100; longspine porgy-43,100; silver seatrout-389,500; sand seatrout-423,100; spot-514,400; and Atlantic croaker-1,075,000. Food habits on either side of the Mississippi Delta were related to age, location and time of capture. Atlantic cutlassfish were piscivorous. Sand and silver seatrouts preyed on a mixture of fishes and shrimps, and although sand seatrouts diets did not vary with age and location, silver seatrouts diets did. The remaining species were benthic feeders. Spot fed primarily on polychaetes and detrital matter and secondarily on crustaceans. There were distinct differences in feeding habits of spot between day and night: during the day they ate epifauna, whereas at night they consumed infaunal polychaetes. Atlantic croaker and hardhead catfish diets were dependent upon age: young fish ate polychaetes and older fish preyed upon large, mobile epifauna such as crabs, fishes, shrimps, and stomatopods. Hardhead catfish from the East Delta consumed more polychaetes and less fish and shrimp than did fish from the West Delta. Longspine porgy of all ages consumed mainly polychaetes and detritus both day and night but preyed more upon epifauna in West Delta waters.

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