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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 854849, 7 pages
Research Article

Water Flow Affects Zooplankton Feeding by the Scleractinian Coral Galaxea fascicularis on a Polyp and Colony Level

Aquaculture and Fisheries Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research Centre, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands

Received 24 September 2012; Revised 11 November 2012; Accepted 14 November 2012

Academic Editor: Horst Felbeck

Copyright © 2012 Tim Wijgerde et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Several factors may affect heterotrophic feeding of benthic marine invertebrates, including water flow rate and polyp context (i.e., the presence of neighbouring polyps). We tested the interactive effects of water flow rate and polyp context on zooplankton feeding by the scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis. Single polyps and colonies were incubated in a flow cell for 30 minutes with an ambient Artemia nauplii concentration of 10,000  and water flow rates ranging from 1.25 to 40 cm  . Water flow rate and polyp context showed significant main and interactive effects on feeding rates of G. fascicularis polyps. More specifically, feeding rates were optimal at flow rates of 1.25 cm  for single polyps and 5 to 10 cm  for polyps inhabiting colonies. The presence of epizoic acoelomorph flatworms may have negatively affected the observed feeding rates, especially at high flow. Our results demonstrate that water flow affects coral feeding and thus heterotrophic nutrient input at both a polyp and colony level. These findings are of relevance to our understanding of how biotic and abiotic factors interact on coral heterotrophy and may serve to optimise coral aquaculture.