AskDefine | Define benthos

Dictionary Definition



1 a region including the bottom of the sea and the littoral zones [syn: benthic division, benthonic zone]
2 organisms (plants and animals) that live at or near the bottom of a sea

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek βενθος.


IPA: /'bɛnθɒs/


  1. The flora and fauna at the bottom of the ocean or other body of water.

Extensive Definition

Benthos are the organisms which live on, in, or near the seabed, also known as the benthic zone. Benthic organisms, such as sea stars, oysters, clams, sea cucumbers, brittle stars and sea anemones, play an important role as a food source for fish and humans.
The term benthos comes from the Greek for "depths of the sea".
The main food sources for benthos are plankton and organic runoff from land. The depth of water, temperature and salinity, and type of local substrate all affect what benthos is present. In coastal waters and other places where light reaches the bottom, benthic photosynthesizing diatoms can proliferate. Filter feeders, such as sponges and pelecypods, dominate hard, sandy bottoms. Deposit eaters, such as polychaetes, populate softer bottoms. Fish, starfish, snails, cephalopods, and crustaceans are important predators and scavengers.


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See also



  • Benthos
  • Benthos. (2008) Encyclopædia Britannica. (Retrieved May 15, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.)
benthos in Bulgarian: Бентос
benthos in Catalan: Bentos
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benthos in Estonian: Bentos
benthos in Modern Greek (1453-): Βένθος
benthos in Spanish: Bentos
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benthos in Georgian: ბენთოსი
benthos in Dutch: Benthos
benthos in Japanese: 底生生物
benthos in Norwegian: Benthisk
benthos in Norwegian Nynorsk: Benthos
benthos in Polish: Bentos
benthos in Portuguese: Bentos
benthos in Russian: Бентос
benthos in Slovak: Bentos
benthos in Serbian: Бентос
benthos in Finnish: Pohjaeläimet
benthos in Swedish: Bentos
benthos in Tajik: Бентос
benthos in Ukrainian: Бентос
benthos in Chinese: 底棲生物

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bassalia, Loch Ness monster, abyss, abyssal zone, alevin, bathyal zone, benthon, bottom waters, bottomless depths, cetacean, dolphin, fingerling, fish, fry, game fish, grilse, ground, inner space, kipper, man-eater, man-eating shark, marine animal, minnow, minny, nekton, ocean bottom, ocean depths, ocean floor, panfish, pelagic zone, plankton, porpoise, salmon, sea monster, sea pig, sea serpent, sea snake, shark, smolt, sponge, the deep, the deep sea, the deeps, the depths, trench, tropical fish, whale
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