Aufwuchs is a term used to cover the small animals and plants that encrust hard substrates, such as rocks, in aquatic environments. The name comes from German and means a growth on a surface. In both marine and freshwater environments,
algae, particularly green algae and diatoms, make up the dominant component of aufwuchs communities. Small crustaceans, rotifers, and protozoans are also commonly found in fresh water and the sea, but insect larvae, oligochaetes and tardigrades are peculiar to freshwater aufwuchs faunas.
Many aquatic animals feed extensively on aufwuchs. The
mbuna cichlids from Lake Malawiare particularly well known examples of fish adapted for feeding on aufwuchs. Examples include " Labeotropheus trewavasae" and " Pseudotropheus zebra". They have scraper-like teeth that allow them to rasp the aufwuchs from rocks [http://malawicichlids.com/mw01100.htm#aufw] . In marine communities, aufwuchs is an important source of food for animals such as limpets and sea urchins.
* [http://www.fishbase.org/Glossary/Glossary.cfm?TermEnglish=aufwuchs Fishbase definition of aufwuchs]
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