Abstract: Filter-feeding fish and their applications

More than 25% of the world’s fish catch consists of filter-feeding fish such as menhaden, anchovies, shad, tilapia and carp. Despite their economic and ecological importance, we largely don’t know how they filter their own food from the water. This summer I will be conducting research in the hopes to further the scientific knowledge of how these fish remove food particles from the water without clogging their entire system. Because there are so many species of fish that make use of filter-feeding, one main goal of my research is to study a fish species, previously not studied by this lab, in order to understand the mechanism in a diversity of fish species.

Not only is it important to study these filter-feeding fish for the sake of learning their impressive feeding mechanisms, but this knowledge will also have practical applications in the field of biotechnology. Many mechanical processes use the same type of mechanism as these fish do while feeding. However the difference is that the machines get clogged which becomes a costly issue in these biotechnology products. Having a full understanding of the filtering mechanism in which these fish use to feed can lead to practical applications in industry.

Fish without operculum to better show the gill rakers, arches and gill filaments (structures that make up the fishes 'filter')

Fish without operculum to better show the gill rakers, arches and gill filaments (structures that make up the fishes ‘filter’)