ABSTRACT Knowing the feeding biology of a population and its ontogenetic aspects can help in understanding the functioning of fish assemblages, essential to the conservation of the habitat biodiversity in which these species are found. Annual fishes complete their life cycle in temporary aquatic environments, existing in adult stage only for brief annual periods. Changes in the feeding habits between different size classes could indicate that a species belongs to different feeding groups in different growth phases. The aim of this work was to characterize the diet of Cynopoecilus fulgens Costa, 2002 in a temporary flooded area in the coastal plain of southern Brazil, taking into consideration possible alterations in feeding habits in different body size classes caused by ontogenetic changes, to explain the coexistence of these individuals in a short space of time. The diet analysis indicated that C. fulgens is a generalist, consuming small crustaceans and autochthonous insects. Intraspecific differences in diet were determined when compared between nine classes of standard length. Adults fed mainly on autochthonous insects, and juveniles ingested mostly crustaceans, with the population being separated into two trophic groups: invertivores and invertivores with a tendency towards zooplanktivory. It is possible to conclude that the ontogenetic changes in the diet of C. fulgens are related to morphological restrictions due to the size of the individuals, since feeding competitive relations are probably not so evident
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