Onset of zooplanktivory and optimal water flow rates for prey capture in newly settled polyps of ten Caribbean coral species

Robbert C. Geertsma*, Tim Wijgerde, Kelly R.W. Latijnhouwers, Valérie F. Chamberland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Zooplanktivory is an important source of nutrients in corals, providing up to 35% of daily metabolic energy requirements in some species. However, little is known about coral zooplanktivory shortly after larval settlement and metamorphosis. In most species it is unclear if, when and under which conditions newly settled polyps are able to capture and ingest prey. This remains a critical knowledge gap, as zooplanktivory could allow coral settlers to replenish energy reserves shortly after metamorphosis, possibly improving settler condition during one of their most vulnerable life stages. Here, we documented the onset of prey (Artemia salina nauplii) capture in ten Caribbean coral species and assessed optimal water flow rates (WFR) for prey capture in five of these species. All species initiated zooplanktivory within six days following metamorphosis, with the exception of Acropora palmata which was never observed capturing nauplii during our 20-day study. Optimal WFR for prey capture varied among species, with Favia fragum displaying maximum prey capture rates in zero flow and Diploria labyrinthiformis most effectively capturing nauplii under WFR of 5–20 cm s−1. Under each species’ optimum WFR, prey capture abilities varied considerably, with F. fragum capturing up to one nauplius every two minutes compared to one nauplius every nine minutes in Colpophyllia natans. Using these findings, we make species-specific recommendations to optimize coral husbandry and larval-based restoration practices for these ten coral species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1651-1664
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number6
Early online date16 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Artemia nauplii
  • Coral husbandry
  • Coral settler
  • Water flow
  • Zooplanktivory


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