The Feeding Habits of the Toadfish (Opsanus Tau) Based on an Analysis of the Contents of the Stomach and Intestine

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Opsanus tau, (Linneaus) - the toadfish, inhabits a vast area along the Eastern Sea Coast of North America. It is found from the coast of Maine to the regions of the West Indies. North of Cape Cod, its occurrence is rather rare. As for the Chesapeake localities, according to previous records the toadfish lives in the muddy bottoms of the oyster regions of the Chesapeake Bay, around the mouth of the Potomac River, and elsewhere in the saltwater regions. Many specimens were collected from many localities around Annapolis, Maryland to the entrance of the Bay by Hildebrand and Schroeder (1927). Studies on the feeding habits of the toadfish have not been very extensive over the past years as reviewed in the literature. Little attention has been given to very detailed analyses of this type because of their lack of economic importance. (Hildebrand and Schroeder, 1927) in their mention of the toadfish state that its principal food appears to consist of crustaceans, with a combination of mollusks, or other fish. Small crabs among the crustaceans appeared most frequently in the food, although shrimp (and in the smaller individuals Amphipods) and Isopods also were present. Almost any kind of offal is eaten, and in places where garbage is thrown overboard, toadfish are almost always present in comparatively large numbers. (Linton, 1901) noted that the alimentary canal is chiefly filled with crustacean and molluscan remains and the bones and scales of fishes. He also noted finding a partly digested toadfish in the stomach of another. (Gudger, 1908) stated that their favorite food is young molting blue crab; any crustacean will do, however, or fish or almost any kind of offal. This investigation was concerned with the feeding habits of Opsanus tau in the Chesapeake Bay in the vicinity of Crisfield, Maryland. A somewhat detailed analysis was made in the determination of the specific type of food that was present in the comparison to what has previously been noted. In correlation with previous accounts of notations made on the feeding habits of the toadfish , a definite relation occurred between the analyses presented here with earlier findings.