Larval feeding and survival strategies are described on a Japanese sand lance, Ammodytes personatus Girard, collected in the vicinity of a thermohaline front in the Ise Bay, in comparison with those of other predominant larvae, Hexagrammos spp. and Sebastiscus marmoratus (Cuvier). First-feeding A. personatus larvae (3.1-3.9 mm NL) fed primarily on tintinnid ciliates, subsequently switching to copepod nauplii (4.0-7.9 mm NL larvae) and post-naupliar copepods (8.0-11.3 mm NL larvae). First-feeding Hexagrammos spp. larvae (6.5-6.9 mm NL) fed primarily on post-naupliar copepods, and first-feeding S. marmoratus larvae (<4.0 mm NL), mostly on copepod nauplii. The different food preferences of these species at first-feeding were related to their different mouth widths (0.15-0.19, 0.52-0.56 and 0.32-0.40 mm, respectively) and/or body size (3.1-3.9, 6.5-6.9 and 3.2-3.9 mm NL, respectively). Ciliate-feeding by first-feeding A. personatus larvae was strongly related to the convergence of the larvae and their prey near the thermohaline front, densities of both being greater on the inshore side of the frontal zone. In conclusion, the aggregation of ciliates near the thermohaline front may have improved feeding conditions and survival of first-feeding A. personatus larvae.
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