Filter-foraging strategies of captive American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) in relation to food type, density and distribution in the water column

Bart Briek, Eize J. Stamhuis, Dennis Worst

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The American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) uses ram filter-feeding to forage for (mainly) zooplankton throughout the water column. It makes an ontogenetic transition from buccal pumping to ram ventilation feeding in the first year. In wild conditions, plankton is often distributed unevenly in time and space; however, this does not always apply to captive conditions. In the present study, two paddlefish were fed on a range of diets and supply methods to investigate the effect on foraging strategy. Insight into influencing foraging strategies could be beneficial for zoos and aquaria for display purposes or for improving welfare conditions. The paddlefish were studied during foraging, and foraging strategy, bout length and usage of the aquarium space were recorded. Three foraging strategies can be distinguished: foraging while swimming in straight lines, foraging while swimming in circulatory paths and particulate foraging. Although these strategies appear to not have a fixed switch-point, a significant difference was found between the foraging strategies for start and end points of certain strategies in relation to food density (P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of zoo and aquarium research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • American paddlefish
  • foraging strategy
  • food supply
  • food density
  • particulate foraging
  • Polyodon spathula
  • ram filter-feeding

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