Food And Growth Of Six Centrarchids From Shoreline Areas Of Bull Shoals Reservoir

Stomach contents were examined from 579 longear sunfish, 381 green sunfish, 173 bluegill, 206 largemouth bass, 264 smallmouth bass, and 328 spotted bass collected from the shoreline area of Bull Shoals Reservoir, April 1964 - March 1965. The food of the six species by seasons and size groups (0-1.9, 2.0-3.9, 4.0-7.9 and 8.0 plus inches) is presented. Fish contributed 85 to 99% of the total volume of food of the black basses four inches or more in length. Threadfin and gizzard shad were the most common prey species (50% or more of the volume). Consumption of longear, green, and bluegill sunfish by the basses was also significant (19% of volume). Longear sunfish over four inches in length relied heavily on terrestrial insects (37%), green sunfish on crayfish (63%), and bluegill on terrestrial insects (23%) and filamentous algae (23%). Utilization of fish by the larger sunfishes was minor, except for heavy consumption of dead or dying threadfin shad during a winter mortality. The same species of Entomostraca and aquatic insects found only in the littoral browsing area constituted the primary foods of all six species of centrarchids under four inches in length, with greatest utilization by those under two inches. Basses, two to four inches in length, included fish in their diets. All the sunfishes consumed large quantities of black bass eggs in May. Bryozoa were seasonally important in the diets of longear and bluegill sunfish. Growth of these centrarchids in Bull Shoals Reservoir was slow compared with that of the same species in other U. S. waters.

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