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Species composition and gut content analysis of fishes in Mandulog River system, Iligan City.


Iligan is a highly urbanized city in the Northern Mindanao region, Philippines. Iligan comes from the word "ilig" which means flow that had many rivers that run through it [28]. One of the significant rivers in Iligan that is greatly affected by today's continuing threats of pollution, severe extraction of its resources and extensive urbanization is the Mandulog River [30]. Mandulog River is 50-km waterway that runs through the north of Iligan City in Lanao del Norte with tributaries coming as far as Lanao del Sur [25]. Mandulog River acquired its name from Barangay Mandulog which is located in eastern part of Iligan City. In the history, Maranao and Hingaonon tribes were the two original settlers of Mandulog [6].

It is very important to discover the species composition to understand how an ecosystem works and how important the different organisms are to an environment. Species composition is the identity of all the different organisms that make up a community [31]. The variation in factors which constitute an ecosystem makes up the variation in species composition [15]. The effect of species composition on the ecosystem processes was at least as statistically significant as that of species richness [3].

Another significant factor in ecological research together with species composition is the knowledge of diet composition. As diet composition shows from where animals derive their sustenance and contribute to the understanding of ecosystem structure and population dynamics [1]. A compilation of different food items consumed by a fish species can be useful for the identification of stable food preferences and in the creation of trophic models as a tool to understand complex river ecosystems [24]. Feeding behavior pattern and predator-prey relationships is possible to understand with the diet analysis to predict the changes that might result from any natural or anthropogenic for assessing the biotic integrity of these streams and managing such environments [27, 4].

Vedra et al. (2013) reported the indigenous goby population in Mandulog River where a total of ten goby species found belonging to three families, namely: Eleotridae, Gobiidae, and Rhyacichthyidae. Openiano et al. (2011) reported the cross-barred grunt, Mesopristes cancellatus, where the occurrence of large-sized individuals dominated by gravid females was observed in Bayug Island between April and May. Sinco (2002) conducted the diet analyses of fishes from the upstream sites of Cagayan de Oro City river systems. It showed that the gut content of Ambassis sp. were crustacean part, appendage, insect part, phytoplankton, plant debris, sediment and zooplankton. While in Glossogobius celebius, it mainly fed on algae, bones, crustacean part/appendage, eggs, insect part, nematode, phytoplankton, plant debris, sediment, seeds, small fish and zooplankton. However, the data is not so efficient to construct established reports and understanding on the ecosystem structure and population dynamics of the fish species and river systems in the Philippines, especially in Mandulog River where there are only limited resources about the species and diet composition of the fish species [26, 30].

This study attempts to analyze the species composition, relative abundance and gut content of fishes in Mandulog river system. The relationship among the physicochemical properties of the river, length-weight of the fishes and fish abundance to diet variation were also identified. Findings may be used for further studies related to fish abundance and diet composition in Mandulog River, Iligan City.


Reconnaissance of the Study Area:

Preliminary ocular visit was done before the actual sampling procedure. There were five sampling stations that were determined and located using GPS coordinators--in DMS (Degrees Minutes Seconds). The sampling areas were categorized into upstream, midstream and downstream.

Identification of the Study Area:

The research was conducted in Mandulog River, Iligan City with five different sampling stations: Bayug Island (SS1), Barina-ut (SS2), Lambaguhon (SS3), Bonbonon (SS4) and Mandulog (SS5) (Figure 1).

Determination of Physicochemical Parameters:

The determination of the physico-chemical parameters were measured in situ. The following physicochemical parameters were determined: location, width and depth of the river, its current velocity, air and water temperature, pH, Total Suspended Solids (TSS), openness of site, substrate, nitrite and phosphate.

Collection of Fishes:

Fishes were caught and collected by hired fishermen using a fish net or seine. The seine was measured with the height of 2.8 meters, 14-meter circumference and a mesh eye size of 10 millimetres. The collected fishes were then placed in a bucket filled with crushed ice and with proper labelling in a separate container. The fishes were analysed for morphological measurements, gut content, identification and frozen for three days for further analyses. The fishes were then placed in 10% formalin for a week and were transferred in 50% isopropyl alcohol; prior to it, the fishes were soaked in water to get rid of the odor. Both of these procedures were used as preservation purposes.

Morphological Measurement:

The following measurements of fish samples were measured using callipers or rulers: Total Length--The whole distance of the fish from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail. The unit of measurement used was in centimeter. Wet Weight--The fishes were weighed in grams using a weighing scale.

Gut Content Analysis:

The gut or digestive tract from the abdomen of the fish was carefully removed using scalpel or knife. The gut was longitudinally cut into half for its diet analyses. This was aided using a compound microscope and illustrations as references for the diet composition. The content was then identified and documented. The gut or digestive tract was placed inside the containers with 10% formalin for further preservation.

Statistical Analysis:

The Pearson Correlation Coefficient was used to find the correlation among the physicochemical properties of the river to the relative abundance and species richness of fishes, also, the correlation between the fishes' length and wet weight through the SPSS software, and to correlate the relationship between the diet variation to the fish abundance (per family). The ANOVA was used to establish the significant difference in the relative abundance of fishes among the different sampling sites of the river using SPSS software. Parametric ANOVA was used since the level of measurement that has been analysed was expressed in interval and ratio data.


Identification and Relative Abundance of Fishes:

There are a total of 18 species of fishes collected from five different sampling areas of Mandulog River belonging to six orders containing 13 families. There are a total of 114 fishes collected during the one-month sampling period where Bayug Island had the most abundant fishes collected with a total number of 33 individuals while Lambaguhon had the least with 8 fishes (Table 1).

Bayug Island which forms delta at the end of the Mandulog River serves as nursery and feeding grounds of fishes and other organisms, and a place of exceptionally high productivity [12]. The species that dominates in Bayug Island with a total of 21 fishes was Ambassis sp. that commonly lives in freshwater and especially brackish mangrove-lined inlets [2]. This species was present in all five sampling sites which was also the most abundant species with a total number of 30 fishes. Barina-ut which had a total number of 28 fishes caught had the most number of species of fishes among all the sampling sites because it is nearly closer to the estuary with fewer disturbances. Some anthropogenic activities like washing laundry and bathing of children were observed here but no quarrying was done. The most dominant species caught in Barina-ut was Liza sp. because they occur predominantly in shallow coastal habitats, reefs, especially estuaries and mangrove [2]. Bonbonon had a total number of 26 individuals and seven species caught. Nile Tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, dominated in this area with seven fishes for they occur in a wide variety of freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes, sewage canals and irrigation channels [21]. Mandulog had 19 fishes and six species collected. Rhyacichthys aspro with ten individuals dominated in this site for they can only be found in the upstream and midstream of Mandulog River system [29]. This species can thrive in this site living in a steep, very swift to torrential rocky freshwater streams in mountainous places [17]. Anthropogenic activities like quarrying of gravels were observed in this site affecting the number of individuals and fish species collected. Lastly, the least with eight fishes and only five species of fishes collected was in Lambaguhon. This site was strongly influenced by human activities where massive quarrying of sediments was observed, thus having the least number of collected fishes and species among the sampling areas. Same with Bayug Island, Ambassis sp. dominated in this site with only three fishes. The 18 species of fishes collected in different sampling sites are shown in Figure 2.

The species with the highest relative abundance was Ambassis sp. having a percentage value of 26.32%. Second was Glossogobius celebius with a percentage value of 14.91% and foUMBd by Liza sp. with 14.03% relative abundance. The lowest percentage of relative abundance among the species were Moolgarda sp., Doryichthys heterosoma, Exyrias puntang, Clarias batrachus, Sillago sihama, Antennarius sp., Apogon nigrofasciatus, and Sicyopterus extraneus.

Physicochemical Relationships of the River to the Relative Abundance and Species Richness of Fishes:

Table 2 presents the significant relationship between the physicochemical properties of the river to the relative abundance and species richness of fishes. River width and depth indicated positive values at 0.499 and 0.371, respectively and showed highly significant p-values to the relative abundance of the fishes (Table 2). Increase river width helps the growth of fishes for lesser competition due to wider space and thus, less stress factor [14]. Increase river depth also would be favourable to the demersal fishes which are dwelling at or near the bottom of a body of water like Ambassis sp. [13]. Current velocity showed highly significant p-value but inversely proportional to the relative abundance. Extreme water flow can constrain fishes in streams and rivers. Small fishes typically cannot hold position in swift water as readily as can larger individuals [11]. The highly significant p-value of 0.336 indicates that air temperature is directly proportional to the relative abundance. Optimum temperature is necessary for growth, reproduction, egg incubation, food conversion and resistance to specific diseases [14]. Furthermore, water temperature also displayed highly significant p-value but inversely proportional to the relative abundance. Water temperature above 35[degrees]C can begin to denature or breakdown enzymes reducing metabolic function [16]. Other parameters like pH and TSS didn't show significant relationship into the relative abundance of the fishes. The average values of pH and TSS were within the recommended range that can be tolerated by the fishes [14].

On the species richness of fishes, river width didn't show any significant relationship for any types of fishes will thrive in any values of width (Table 2). But the river depth did showed inverse relation because increase depth in the water bodies like rivers could affect the growth of fishes. The deeper it goes, intensive aeration is needed as aeration is delayed the availability of necessary substance like D.O. may be compromised [14]. Current velocity showed highly significant relationship onto the species richness. Goby species include families Eleotridae, Rhyacichthyidae and Gobiidae are of course well adapted to high flow conditions due to their suction cups formed by fused pelvic fins that help them effectively cling on rocks and boulders against the extreme current [11]. Air temperature and pH also showed significant relationships but inversely proportional to the species richness (Table 2). When air temperature exceeds in its optimum range it will result to high turbidity that decreases the amount of gases that can be dissolved in water (D.O.) [19]. If the pH of water is too high or too low, the aquatic organisms living within it can stress animal systems and reduce hatching and survival rates [16]. Water temperature showed also significant effect and directly relative to species richness (Table 2). For most fish, 10[degrees]C increase in water temperature will approximately double the rate of physiological function. This increase in metabolic rate can be handled by some species better than others [16]. Total suspended solids (TSS) is a significant factor in observing water clarity [16]. Mandulog had the greatest TSS in relation to the species richness of fishes, Rhyacichthys aspro and Cyprinus carpio were found in this sampling area. These species are commonly characterized as being tolerant to turbidity [5].

In the Nitrite and Phosphate, the SPSS can't generate results because both of the parameters have the same or no variation in values throughout the sampling areas. It didn't show any significant differences between the sampling areas into the relative abundance and species richness of fishes. The results of these two chemical properties were associated with the methods used in measuring the Nitrite and Phosphate.

Significant Difference in Relative Abundance among the Five Sampling Sites:

Relative abundance also refers to the evenness of distribution or to how common or rare a species is relative to other species in a given location or community [9]. Table 3 showed that there are significant differences in the average relative abundance between the different sampling sites of Mandulog River system.

The result was due to the different fish species dominated in each sampling sites of Mandulog River. Such as Bayug Island having the highest mean value of 20.4691 due to the occurrence of the Ambassis sp. as the most abundant species caught in all the collected fishes in five sampling sites. Moreover, Bayug Island had the rarest fish species collected which were four of the least relative abundance. But Bonbonon having the lowest mean value of 8.3988 was due to the collected fish species that were common relative or almost the same to other species in other four sampling areas (Table 2). It showed that Bonbonon had the lowest degree of evenness of distribution among the sampling sites of Mandulog River. Moreover, fishes can migrate and move to different zones in Mandulog river indicating the values showed to the other three sampling areas such as Barina-ut, Bonbonon and Mandulog [10].

Length and Weight Relationship of the Fishes:

Data showed that Moolgarda sp. had the highest wet weight and total body length in all the collected fish species from five sampling areas of Mandulog River. This means that Moolgarda sp. was inherently heavier and longer as compared to the other fish species collected. Fish species have an ideal weight-length ratio wherein even if the fish reaches the adult stage, it will remain small if it is inherently small and remain big if it is inherently big [26]. In the aspect of length and weight relationships proved that the two variables have a strong positive relationship with a 0.000 p-value (Table 4).

Studies showed that regardless of the sampling sites, length is always positively correlated with weight. Furthermore, there is an established range on the length and weight of species [26]. The highly significant correlation coefficient of 0.879 serves as an indicator that food intake, growth pattern and factors like biotic (food availability, etc.) and abiotic (habitat type, etc.) can greatly affect the length-weight relationship (LWR) of fishes [7].

Diet Composition of Fishes:

Disintegrated body parts of aquatic insects and larvae in Class Insecta and Chironomidae were common in the guts of fishes Ambassis sp., Clarias batrachus, Glossogobius celebius, Oreochromis niloticus and Rhyacichthys aspro. While crustacean body parts of shrimps and crabs were found in Glossogobius celebius, Sillago sihama, and Apogon nigrofasciatus. Small fishes of Glossogobius celebius were also part in the gut content of Antennarius sp. and Glossogobius celebius while aquatic shells of a Gastropod species and Melanoides torulosa were common in Sillago sihama, Eleotris fusca and Glossogobius celebius too. Phytoplankton was very common in the guts of Kuhlia marginata, Stenogobius mekongensis, Glossogobius celebius, and Liza sp. A phytoplankton, Batrachospermum sp., was found in Moolgarda sp. The most appreciating part in the gut of Oreochromis niloticus was group of diatoms, Navicula sp.and Gyrosigma acuminatum, that had found in many numbers. Also, two aquatic worms in Class Oligochaeta were found in the guts of Kuhlia marginata and Rhyacichthys aspro; and a nematode in Awaous ocellaris. Other food contents like fish scales and spicules were also found in the guts of Eleotris fusca. Zooplankton is also present in the diet of Stenogobius mekongensis, Rhyacichthys aspro, Cyprinus carpio and Awaous ocellaris.But sand minerals and detritus were also initiated in the gut of Sillago sihama, Cyprinus carpio and Exyrias puntang species. The seasonal differences caused the type of food consumed by the fishes, with predominance of detritus being observed during the dry season and aquatic insects making the greatest contribution in the rainy season. Moreover, detritus was also a large part of the diet of the fish assemblages, which has been reported for a number of species in natural environments, especially in impacted streams [4].

In most cases, fishes of different sampling sites have different food composition even if they belong to same species. However, Ambassis sp. showed the same gut content with similar species in all sampling areas, likewise to species Stenogobius mekongensis, Glossogobius celebius and Liza sp. This condition depends on the availability of the food sources in a particular habitat. The influence of spatial factors on the fish species' diets was related to the different characteristics of the streams as well as their surroundings. A well-structured site with a variety of habitats for feeding and shelter can support many species. Such sites are associated with riparian vegetation and water quality. Nevertheless, the removal of this type of vegetation or changes in land cover and other artificial anthropogenic changes in these environments may affect streams, which directly affects the fish fauna in with respect to vital processes, such as feeding and reproduction [4].

Correlation in Fish Abundance and Diet Variation:

Figure 3 showed strong positive correlation between the diet variation and fish abundance. As calculated, 70.5% is explained by the total variation in X (diet variation) that can affect fish abundance (per Family) while the remaining 29.5% is due to other factors. These include physicochemical factors, anthropogenic activities, fish' morphology, and water quality [20, 22, 8).

The dietary resource availability had the strongest influence on the abundance of fishes where Bayug Island and Barina-ut had the most number of food types [18]. Also, both of the sampling areas were the most abundant in terms of fish caught and fish species, respectively. The lowest number of collected fishes in Lambaguhon was due to a lack of suitable food [8]. But anthropogenic activities and declining water quality can really affect the abundance of fishes in Mandulog River System [20].

Conclusions and recommendations:

There were a total of eighteen (18) species of fishes belonging to six (6) orders and thirteen (13) families collected from five sampling areas in Mandulog River. Order Perciformes and Family Gobiidae were the most abundant group collected. But Ambassis sp. in the Family Ambassidae were the most abundant in terms of fish caught with 30 individuals (26.32%) which then followed by Glossogobius celebius with 17 individuals (14.91%). Bayug Island had the most number of fishes collected with a total of 33 individuals while Barina-ut had the most number of fish types with 10 species caught. Using Pearson Correlation, width, depth and air temperature were directly correlated to relative abundance, however, current velocity and water temperature where inversely proportional. While in the species richness, current velocity, water temperature, and TSS had positive correlation but river depth, air temperature and pH had inverse relationships. Another important factor in studying fishes was to measure their morphological attributes like length and weight. It was concluded that all fish species have an ideal weight-length ratio as compared to the standard value set by previous researchers.

In diet analysis, it had been found that the gut content of the fishes were different types of phytoplankton, disintegrated body parts of insects and larvae; and crustaceans like shrimps and crabs. It also includes here some species of diatoms, small fishes, sediments, freshwater shells, zooplankton, fish scales, worms and detritus. Furthermore, it can be concluded that some of the fishes of the same kind have similar diet composition while others were different due to opportunistic strategy for eating what is available within their respective territorial range. Moreover, the diet variation was directly proportional to the number of fish abundance (per Family) in Mandulog river system.

Many of these factors were not accounted in this study and therefore it is suggested to include temporal variation and other physicochemical parameters. Seasonal fluctuations in different months and years will strongly help the determination of species composition and relative abundance of the fishes in different sampling sites of Mandulog River. Also, it's better to increase the number of sampling sites and time. Physicochemical parameters in this study were limited due to incomplete laboratory equipment. Therefore, it is recommended to include D.O., relative humidity and other chemical tests like nitrate, sulphate, calcium and chloride. It is recommended to construct cluster analysis for further presentation on the similarities of diet composition between species of fishes and sampling sites. These significant points will greatly help for further studies and management plans to protect and monitor the health status of Mandulog River.


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(1) Camille E. De Guzman, (1) Annielyn D. Tampus, (1) Sasha Anne L. Valdez, (1) Vanessa Mae C. Tumang, (1) Carlo Stephen O. Moneva and (2) Everlita E. Canalita

(1) Department of Biological Sciences, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, Iligan City, Philippines.

(2) Science and Math Department, MSU-Integrated Developmental Science, Iligan City, Philippines.


Article history:

Received 23 June 2015

Accepted 25 July 2015

Available online 30 August 2015

Corresponding Author: Annielyn D. Tampus, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, Department of Biological Sciences, 9200, Iligan City, Philippines. Tel: +639177168095 E-mail:

Table 1: Species Composition and Relative Abundance of the
Collected Fishes in Five Sampling Sites of Mandulog River

Species                   Bayug    Barina-ut   Lambaguhon   Bonbonon

Kuhlia marginata            --         2           --          2
Moolgarda sp.               --         1           --          --
Eleotris fusca              --         2           --          1
Stenogobius mekongensis     --         3           --          6
Glossogobius celebius       8          2           2           4
Liza sp.                    --        14           1           --
Doryichthys heterosoma      --         1           --          --
Rhyacichthys aspro          --         1           --          --
Ambassis sp.                21         1           3           1
Exyrias puntang             1         --           --          --
Clarias batrachus           --        --           1           --
Sillago sihama              1         --           --          --
Antennarius sp.             1         --           --          --
Apogon nigrofasciatus       1         --           --          --
Oreochromis niloticus       --         1           --          7
Cyprinus carpio             --        --           --          --
Sicyopterus extraneus       --        --           --          --
Awaous ocellaris            --        --           1           5
Total                       33        28           8           26

Species                   Mandulog      Total      Relative
                                      Number of    Abundance
                                     Individuals      (%)

Kuhlia marginata             --           4          3.50
Moolgarda sp.                --           1          0.87
Eleotris fusca               --           3          2.63
Stenogobius mekongensis      --           9          7.89
Glossogobius celebius        1           17          14.91
Liza sp.                     1           16          14.03
Doryichthys heterosoma       --           1          0.87
Rhyacichthys aspro           10          11          9.65
Ambassis sp.                 4           30          26.32
Exyrias puntang              --           1          0.87
Clarias batrachus            --           1          0.87
Sillago sihama               --           1          0.87
Antennarius sp.              --           1          0.87
Apogon nigrofasciatus        --           1          0.87
Oreochromis niloticus        --           8          7.02
Cyprinus carpio              2            2          1.75
Sicyopterus extraneus        1            1          0.87
Awaous ocellaris             --           6          5.26
Total                        19          114          100

Table 2: Relationship between the Physicochemical
Properties of the River to the Relative Abundance
and Species Richness of Fishes

VARIABLES                           Pearson     p-value

Relative            Width            0.499       0.000
  Abundance         Depth            0.371       0.000
              Current Velocity      -0.283       0.002
               Air Temperature       0.336       0.000
              Water Temperature     -0.336       0.000
                     pH             -0.102       0.283
               Total Suspended      -0.148       0.118
                Solids (TSS)
                   Nitrite            --
                  Phosphate           --
Species             Width            0.013       0.893
  Richness          Depth           -0.221       0.019
              Current Velocity       0.264       0.005
               Air Temperature      -0.198       0.035
              Water Temperature      0.198       0.035
                     ph             -0.361       0.000
               Total Suspended       0.316       0.001
                Solids (TSS)
                   Nitrite            --
                  Phosphate           --

VARIABLES                              Decision

Relative            Width         Highly Significant
  Abundance         Depth         Highly Significant
              Current Velocity    Highly Significant
               Air Temperature    Highly Significant
              Water Temperature   Highly Significant
                     pH            Not Significant
               Total Suspended     Not Significant
                Solids (TSS)
Species             Width          Not Significant
  Richness          Depth            Significant
              Current Velocity    Highly Significant
               Air Temperature       Significant
              Water Temperature      Significant
                     ph           Highly Significant
               Total Suspended    Highly Significant
                Solids (TSS)

Table 3: Distribution on the Difference between the Relative
Abundance of Species among the Different Sampling Sites of
Mandulog River System

Variable    Sampling Sites of Mandulog River

            Bayug Island   Barina-ut   Lambaguhon

                Mean         Mean         Mean

Relative      20.4691       10.6128     18.2957

Variable    Sampling Sites        p-value
            of Mandulog River

            Bonbonon   Mandulog

              Mean       Mean

Relative     8.3988    12.2811     0.000

Variable     Decision     [alpha] = 0.05

Relative    Significant

Table 4: Relationship between the Length and Weight of
the Fishes Collected in Mandulog River System

VARIABLES           Pearson     p-value        Decision

Length   Weight      0.879       0.000    Highly Significant
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Author:De Guzman, Camille E.; Tampus, Annielyn D.; Valdez, Sasha Anne L.; Tumang, Vanessa Mae C.; Moneva, C
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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