Murky Water Keeps Fish On Edge – How Water Quality Affects The Health Of Anemonefish

Source: Phys.org/ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies

Photo: Modi Chen/Unsplash

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A study led by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University found fish become anxious and more cautious when water quality is degraded by sediment, an effect that could stunt their growth and damage their health.

Senior author, Associate Professor Jodie Rummer says there is more sediment in  than ever before.

“Suspended sediment concentrations in tropical coastal waters have increased substantially over the past few decades as a result of human activities. We wondered if this reduced visibility affected fish performance, especially their ability to escape predators,” she said.

The scientists, led by Ph.D. student Sybille Hess, examined the response of one-month-old cinnamon anemonefish to a simulated  attack after they had been living in a sediment-filled tank for seven days.

“We found the fish responded faster and were able to dart away from the simulated predator attack more effectively than those living in clear-water, which suggests the fish are on high alert owing to the decrease in visibility,” said Ms Hess.

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Photo: Modi Chen/Unsplash

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