The Fish Ecology
Our appreciation of the ecological importance of fish will begin by understanding how and where fish life could likely exist. Any reference to fish life includes sharks, rays, lampreys, chimeras, hagfish and lungfish, albeit jawless marine vertebrates.
The ecological structure of fish communities depends on the kind of aquatic habitat and environment in which they move around and subsist. Various fish types exist in almost all possible and habitable water realms.
Fish ecology is described as the entire system by which fish life exists as a pelagic inhabitant. The term pelagic refers to matters associated with the sea or body of water without any specific requirement about the depth of the water realm.
Coastal areas provide the ideal location for fish life to flourish. These are parts of the sea, where the nutrients coming from the bottom of the ocean are deposited, as they are brought up by the natural flowing movements of the oceans and seas.
These nutrients provide nourishment for the phytoplankton, which are microscopic marine organisms, usually in a bacterial form or as single-celled plant life, and they represent the basic link in an aquatic ecology’s food chain.
Other fish habitats can be found in nektonic areas of the ocean where nekton organisms survive as they actively move and swim in bodies of water like the ocean or lakes. . The nekton’s role in the marine food chain varies because they come in different sizes; a nekton could be as short as few centimeters or be as long as 30 meters. Hence, nektons to a fish community could be prey or predator.
They can be represented by shrimps, squids, octopus, sharks and humpback whales, and because they have distinct methods of swimming, they have the ability to migrate even amidst strong ocean currents.
Fish who flourish in the deepest parts of the ocean rely on benthic organisms or benthos as their basic food stores. Benthic habitats also exist in near shore or estuarine zones at less than 200 meters deep, like the coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass or eelgrass beds.
This is where the benthos organism like hard clams, mussels and bay scallops could find shelter and protection against the buffering waves. However, the types of benthos that provide food for the fish community are the worms, plants and the shrimp-like amphipods.
Now that we know where fish ecology likely exists, their subsistence and environmental characteristics, we can proceed with our brief study of the ecological importance of fish.