What Is Deposit Feeding

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re not a deposit feeder – one of the main eating modes of the world’s animals. The other eating modes for animals include fluid feeding, bulk feeding, phagocytosis and filter feeding.

What exactly do deposit feeders do to eat?

Fiddler crab
Fiddler crab

Well, they catch their food by sifting through soil and obtaining food particles. This is a fairly similar process to animals that are filter feeders – animals that filter their food passively through the water.

Their habitats are limited

But you’re not going to find a wide of deposit feeding animals just anywhere, as their habitats are limited. In order to survive and thrive as a deposit feeder, you need to live in an extremely fertile area where there is currently a lot of animal life. Why is this? You need animal droppings and food scraps as well as fertile soil in order to complete the process of obtaining food as a deposit feeder.

How deep in the soil do they go?

And if you’re looking to spot a deposit feeder, you’ll usually have to look no deeper than the top most soil layer to around six inches. Why is this? Because deposit feeders rely on food particles existing in the soil and they maximize their chances of successfully obtaining food if they process topsoil where potential food particles haven’t had a chance to disintegrate yet.

How to spot their habitat?

Earthworms are soil-dwelling deposit feeders
Earthworms are soil-dwelling deposit feeders

The food particles that are digested by deposit feeders are called detritus in the biology world. When the soil is under this classification, it’s ripe for the deposit feeders but when the food particles and other composition of the soil continues to break down, it becomes humus. You can tell if you’ll find a deposit feeder in soil based on these classifications: humus soil is a strong black color, due to its carbon levels, so avoid black soil when looking for deposit feeders.

Examples of deposit feeders

The most well-known deposit feeders are earthworms, fiddler crabs and worms. You may also classify other insects and larvae in the deposit feeder category, as they use dead plant and animal matter or excrement to burrow, which is considered a deposit feeder behavior.

Earthworms

While deposit feeders follow a vague guideline on their process of obtaining food, each has its own strategy for doing so. One of the most interesting deposit feeders is the earthworm. Why is this? Because earthworms have a system where their mouth is directly connected to their digestive tract, with nothing in between to act as an intermediary. One added benefit that the earthworm offers is its ability to positively affect the soil by breaking it down during the eating process and maximizing a good chemical balance to promote plant growth.

Fiddler crabs

Aside from earthworms, another animal that uses the soil for its deposit feeding is the fiddler crab. The crab works differently from the worm in that they find balls of dirt and then move them towards their mouth before they find the edible pieces to pick out for eating. Once they find the edible parts, they discard the rest of the balls. If you have an area full of dirt balls, you’re likely to find a fiddler crab there.

Marine environment

Some of the marine wildlife can actually be considered as deposit feeders, although much marine life is classified as filter feeders. These marine species will live in the ooze areas of the bottom of the ocean – particularly certain kinds of worms and bivalves – and use the ocean bottom as place to obtain nutrients.

It improves the quality of the soil

Deposit feeders are just one of the classifications of feeding styles that make up the animal kingdom. They use the soil and the earth around them to absorb nutrients, in some cases helping the soil that they obtain nutrients from.

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