Characterization of zebrafish larvae suction feeding flow using μPIV and optical coherence tomography

Kerem Pekkan*, Brian Chang, Fazil Uslu, Karthick Mani, Chia Yuan Chen, Roi Holzman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The hydrodynamics of suction feeding is critical for the survival of fish larvae; failure to capture food during the onset of autonomous feeding can rapidly lead to starvation and mortality. Fluid mechanics experiments that investigate the suction feeding of suspended particles are limited to adult fishes, which operate at large Reynolds numbers. This manuscript presents the first literature results in which the external velocity fields generated during suction feeding of early zebrafish larvae (2500–20,000 μm total length) are reported using time-resolved microscopic particle image velocimetry. For the larval stages studied, the maximum peak suction velocity of the inflow bolus is measured at a finite distance from the mouth tip and ranges from 1 to 8 mm/s. The average pressure gradient and the velocity profile proximal to the buccal (mouth) cavity are calculated, and two distinct trends are identified. External recirculation regions and reverse flow feeding cycles are also observed and quantified. One of the unresolved questions in fish suction feeding is the shape and dynamics of the buccal cavity during suction feeding; optical coherence tomography imaging is found to be useful for reconstructing the mouth kinematics. The projected area of the mouth cavity during the feeding cycle varies up to 160 and 22 % for the transverse and mid-sagittal planes, respectively. These findings can inspire novel hydrodynamically efficient biomedical and microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016


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