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Bangladesh J. Prog.Sci.& Tech.

7(2); July 2009 ISSN1609-5260



Rafiqul Islam1, M Belal Hossain2*, NG Das1 and Rashed-Un-Nabi Rafi1

Institute of Marine Science and Fisheries, Chittagong University, Bangladesh
Dept. of Fisheries and Marine Science, Noakhali Science and Technology University, Bangaldesh, Email:


This study was conducted based on monthly examination of gut contents of 120 Mugil cephalus over a
period of one year ranging from February 2000 to January 2001. It was found to feed mainly on diatoms,
algae, copepods, decayed organic matter, sand & mud. The average percentage composition of food items
in the stomach of Mugil cephalus were diatoms 39.42%, algae 13.75%, copepods 7.17%, decayed organic
matter 12.50% and sand and mud 27.17%. The maximum quantity of food (47%) was recorded in the
month of June. Dietary components of Mugil cephalus proved undoubtedly that the fish obtains its diet
consisting mainly of fresh and decaying algae from the benthic zones. So the fish was found to be

Key words: Food, Feeding habit and grey Mullet

Introduction better fish production. For some fish,

feeding is almost continuous, for others,
M. cephalus belonging to the family it is circadian or seasonal cycles (Royce,
Mugilidae is widely distributed in 1972). The food and feeding habits of
tropical and subtropical waters fishes vary from species to species, from
throughout the world where its members place to place and season to season, and
grow well on algae and detritus (Oren, it may even varies within the same
1975). In Bangladesh it occurs mainly in species in different ages and sexes due to
the estuaries of Karnafully, Bakkhali, changes in the composition of food
Matamuhuri and Naff rivers and the organisms occurring at different seasons
coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal like of the year. These changes may greatly
north and south Kattali, Swandhip, affect the ecological relations,
Cox’s Bazar, Moheshkhali, St. Martin particularly competition and predation
and mangrove areas of St. Falakate, among the species and alter the
Chakaria. It is locally called “Khorul composition of food organisms. They
Bata”. This fish and several other may thus influence the seasonal feeding
cogenus are the principal fishes for patterns of fishes.
brackish water fish culture as they For efficient culture and management
possess high quality meat, extreme practice of fish resource, the knowledge
salinity and temperature tolerance and of food and feeding habits of fishes are
have a low position in the food chain. very significant. Most studies on the
Many species the family serve as table food and feeding habits of fishes regard
fishes known for their delicacy, flavour to food requirement at different stage of
and taste. growth emphasized the need to study the
The food habit of fishes varies from food and feeding habits of a species in
month to month Food and feeding more details.
habits, the inherent characteristics of the Several studies on the food and feeding
fishes, are the most important factors for habits of mullet have been made in
Bangladesh J. Prog.Sci.& Tech. 7(2); July 2009 ISSN1609-5260

different countries by many workers (1965). To analyze the food contents of

(Angell, 1973; Bruthet, 1975; Das, 1980; the guts, the occurrence and points
Zarka, 1970 and Ermen, 1961 on Mugil (volume) methods (Pillay, 1952 and
curema, Mugil cephalus, Liza tade, Hyslop, 1980) were followed.
Mugil saliens and Mugil chelo
respectively. Though grey mullet Results and Discussion
constitutes one of the important brackish
water fishery items of Bangladesh, no The percentage and monthly occurrence
reliable information is still available on of food items in the guts of Mugil
their food and feeding habits. So, the cephalus are given in table1 and figure 1
present investigation was undertaken to respectively. The stomach contents were
find out the food particles and their composed of the followings: diatoms,
percentage compositions in the gut of the algae belonging to the families of
species in different seasons. Chlorophyceae, Myxophyceae and
Rhodophyceae, decayed organic matters,
Materials and Methods copepods and fine particles of sand as
well as mud.
For monthly examination of gut contents The maximum quantity of food (47%)
of Mugil cephalus, samples were was recorded in the month of June.
collected from the Fish Landing Center, Seasonal fluctuations were observed in
Fishery Ghat, Baddhar Ghat, Kazir the volume and compositions of food
Dewry, Riyazuddin Bazar of Chittagong consumed by the fish. These fluctuations
over a period of one year ranging from were correlated with the relative
February 2000 to January 2001. After abundance of these food materials in the
collection, the fishes were brought to the environment. These were invariably
laboratory of the Institute of Marine found along with sand grains, mud and
Sciences, University of Chittagong, for decayed organic matter from the bottom
further analysis. zones.
At first the fishes were washed The various forms of diatoms were
thoroughly with clean water and blotted identified from the stomach contents.
the excess water. The fishes were then Among these, Pleurosigma sp., Navicula
dissected out on a tray by sharp scissors, sp. and Coscinodiscus sp. were the most
and then the entire alimentary canals of prominent genera.
the fishes were taken out immediately Algae occupied 13.75% of the total
and preserved in 5% formalin in labeled stomach contents. The maximum (18%)
vials and stored for examination. The was reported in the month of March.
contents of the guts were carefully Spirogyra sp. was the most prominent
examined in 70% ethyl alcohol on a species, which occurred throughout the
petridish. Samples from fore, mid and year.
hind guts were taken for the analysis. Diatom is the favorite food of Mugil
The food items then were examined by cephalus, which can be compared with
the help of counting chamber the observation shown by Bruthet
(Sedgewick Rafter) under a compound (1975). He found the greatest abundance
microscope. Whenever possible, food of diatoms was about 48%. The
items were identified upto generic level percentage of other food particles was
following Davis(1965) and Wickstead not prominent and their variations
Bangladesh J. Prog.Sci.& Tech. 7(2); July 2009 ISSN1609-5260

showed more or less same throughout variation was observed throughout the
the year. The order of abundance of year, which agrees with the findings of
algae and diatoms in the present Zarka (1970).
observation is in slightly disagreement The decayed organic matter constituted
with that of Rangaswamy (1973) who 12.50% of the total food consumed
reported that in marine environment the throughout the year and the maximum
gut content of Mugil cephalus contains (16%) was recorded in the month of
26.72% algae and 22.76% diatoms. December.
Amongst algal foods he reported only The fine sand grains and the mud formed
Chlorophyceae and Myxophyceae and 27.17% of the total stomach contents
no Cyanophyceae but in the present and the maximum (36%) was recorded
analysis Cyanophyceae has been in the month of August. These two items
represented by Microcystis in the gut present in the stomach contents indicated
content of Mugil cephalus. that the fish is a browser on bottom
Bruthet (1975) and Rangaswamy (1973) deposits. While feeding at the bottom,
classified Mugil cepalus as a herbivore fish naturally consumed some amount of
as they recorded more than 70% plant sand grains and mud along with its food
materials and rest were sand and mud in items.
the gut contents of the fish. Their results From the investigation it may be
mostly support the present investigation. concluded that Mugil cephalus is a
Copepods were found only in small bottom feeder as well as herbivorous as
quantities forming 7.17% of the total its food mainly composed of fresh and
food consumed. Both Calanoid and decaying plant matter and showed the
Cyclopoid copepods were identified; of evidence of their food ingestion from the
these Calanoid copepods formed the sandy and muddy bottom.
most common item and no marked
Bangladesh J. Prog.Sci.& Tech. 7(2); July 2009 ISSN1609-5260

50 % of diatom s

% of algae

% of copepods

% of decayed organic
m atter
40 % of s and & m ud









Fig.1. Percentage of stomach contents of Mugil cephalus from

February 2000 to January 2001.
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