Chemical composition was determined for 48 species of deep-sea demersal fishes to evaluate trends in compositional parameters with respect to depth and study area. Specimens were collected from depths of 100 m to over 5,000 m off the U.S. east coast between Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod
and from similar depths off the Bahama Islands. Water, ash, nitrogen, and carbon contents were determined. Energy content was calculated based on carbon content. Water level and nitrogen content (% ash-free dry weight) of benthopelagic species with swim bladders increased while carbon (% wet
weight), nitrogen (% wet weight), and energy content (kcal 100 g−1 wet weight) decreased as a function of depth. Benthopelagic species without swimbladders had higher water contents and lower skeletal ash (% wet weight), nitrogen (% wet weight), carbon (% wet weight), and
energy contents than benthopelagic species with swimbladders or benthic species. Species from the U.S. east coast study area and species common to both study areas had higher energy contents than did species occurring only in the Bahamas. Trends in composition with depth appear to reflect
reduced food availability at depth. Moreover, differences in chemical composition between study areas are consistent with the hypothesis that reduced food availability in the Bahamas relative to the temperate western North Atlantic is important in determining the species composition of the
respective fish assemblages.
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