Costa, S., Neves, J., Tirá, G. et al. 2023. Predatory responses and feeding behaviour of three Elasmobranch species in an aquarium setting. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 4(4), 775–787.

Many progressive aquariums worldwide house various elasmobranch species as part of their commitment to conservation awareness and the long-term well-being of these creatures. These aquariums face the challenge of enabling these natural predators to live harmoniously with other fish without triggering natural predation. This research, conducted at Zoomarine Algarve in Southern Portugal, aimed to investigate the behaviour of three elasmobranch species (Carcharhinus melanopterus (1:1:0), Triaenodon obesus (1:0:0), and Pteroplatytrygon violacea (0:3:0)) when exposed to different feeding mechanisms. The goal was to provide them with opportunities for alternative predatory behaviours beyond their typical feeding techniques and to reduce the likelihood of natural predation. The study took place under controlled conditions within a community habitat. Four feeding methods (pole, short buoy, long buoy, and PVC) were tested during morning, afternoon, and evening periods, using five different prey species. The results shed light on which feeding method aligns best with each species’ distinct physiological standards and predatory tendencies and revealed their prey preferences. All three species interacted with all feeding methods, with P. violacea showing a strong preference for the pole method. T. obesus favoured bony fish, while C. melanopterus showed a preference for cephalopods. P. violacea interacted with all prey types but displayed no marked preference. These various feeding methods and prey options also function as environmental enrichment strategies, enhancing the complexity of the habitat and providing the animals with more choices and control, ultimately promoting their welfare in captivity.

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