We used customized fish tanks as model fish ponds to observe grazing, swimming, and conspecific social behavior of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) under variable food-resource conditions to assess alterations in feeding niche. Different food and feeding situations were created by using only pond water or pond water plus pond bottom sediment or pond water plus pond bottom sediment and artificial feeding. All tanks were fertilized twice, prior to stocking and 2 weeks later after starting the experiment to stimulate natural food production. Common carp preferred artificial feed over benthic macroinvertebrates, followed by zooplankton. Common carp did not prefer any group of phytoplankton in any treatment. Common carp was mainly benthic in habitat choice, feeding on benthic macroinvertebrates when only plankton and benthic macroinvertebrates were available in the system. In the absence of benthic macroinvertebrates, their feeding niche shifted from near the bottom of the tanks to the water column where they spent 85% of the total time and fed principally on zooplankton. Common carp readily switched to artificial feed when available, which led to better growth. Common carp preferred to graze individually. Behavioral observations of common carp in tanks yielded new information that assists our understanding of their ecological niche. This knowledge could be potentially used to further the development of common carp aquaculture.
- polyculture ponds