A study of coeval sibling cannibalism in larval and juvenile fishes and its control under culture conditions

Pienaar, Anthony Graham (1990) A study of coeval sibling cannibalism in larval and juvenile fishes and its control under culture conditions. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The primary objective of this study was to examine environmental parameters thought to affect cannibalism in certain fish species. It was found that environmental, behavioural, genetic and physiological factors all affect cannibalism in the species exhibiting the phenomenon. The diversity of factors nfluencing cannibalism served to illustrate the complexity of this behaviour pattern. Feeding to satiation was found to suppress cannibalism in catfish, trout and koi carp. High population densities were found to increase the rate of cannibalism, thereby acting as a population regulation mechanism for catfish, trout and the common and koi carps. Live food, as compared with dry pelletized feed was found to significantly suppress cannibalistic aggression. Catfish grown in total darkness, provided with refuges and living in turbid conditions were found to exhibit lowered cannibalistic and territorial aggression. Various lines of evidence suggested that cannibalism has a genetic basis, as was shown by the differences in cannibalistic behaviour of the two strains of Cyprinus carpio, viz. common and koi carp, with cannibalism being higher in the latter. This finding substantiates the hypothesis that cannibalism is genetically controlled and therefore open to evolutionary change. It is concluded that cannibalism is adaptive in times of food limitation, but that it is merely a by-product of normal feeding behaviour when food is abundant. Since cannibalism is advantageous and thus adaptive, the question arises ai to whether selection is occurring at the individual or the population level (or both). It was concluded that it is acting at the individual level, and that any benefits accruing at the population level iv were simply the effect of the initial cause, viz. individual selection. One of the aims of this study was to determine whether cannibalistic tendencies in fish are influenced by differing life history style trajectories. Based on the results of this study it is hypothesized that cannibalism is an r-selected trait. wi th the understanding gained from the knowl edge of the fundamental principles governing cannibalism, certain recommendations for its control in fish culture could be made. It is, however, imperative that further intensive studies be carried out to understand more fully this complex subject. General "rules" for regulating cannibalism could be helpful for any given cannibalistic species. However, in considering the differing life-history styles of each species, it becomes evident that species-specific guidelines need to be worked out. Until then, any suggestions for cannibalistic control offered to the aquaculturist can only serve as unrefined tools.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Fishes, Behavior, Larvae
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Animal behaviour
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
ID Code:2007
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:25 Aug 2011 06:14
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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