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Animals that eat meat are carnivores, animals that eat plants are herbivores, animals that will eat anything are called omnivores. But what are animals that absorb 25% of their nutrition directly from water called? The rest of its nutrition is absorbed from eating plants.

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    $\begingroup$ Where do the nutrients come from? Plain old water has zero calories, zero carbs, zero fat, and zero protein, so those water-bound nutrients need to have come from somewhere. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ An absorbophore obvs $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ If 75% of its nutrition is from eating plants it is a herbivore with extras. I guess a herbivore and saprotroph. But it would still be a herbivore since that classification is about what it eats and your critter eats plants. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ What is the best name for X questions are off-topic as they are inherently primarily opinion-based. Frankly, Earth has critters that do this, so you can probably get the actual name (rather than a POB guess) from Biology or English Language & Usage, which permits this type of question. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 7, 2019 at 17:49

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You could call it a saprotroph.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saprotrophic_nutrition

As matter decomposes within a medium in which a saprotroph is residing, the saprotroph breaks such matter down into its composites. Proteins are broken down into their amino acid composites through the breaking of peptide bonds by proteases. Lipids are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol by lipases. Starch is broken down into pieces of simple disaccharides by amylases. These products are re-absorbed into the hypha through the cell wall via endocytosis and passed on throughout the mycelium complex. This facilitates the passage of such materials throughout the organism and allows for growth and, if necessary, repair.

Sapro implies decay but that is too narrow for this method of feeding. Decay might be occurring because of other organisms in the neighborhood. Or the decay might be facilitated by the organism itself. Or it is not necessary that absorbed materials be decayed - invasive fungal infections absorb nutrients from the live fluids of their hosts, and the invasive fungi are still saprophytes.

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A reasonable name would be "gastroderm". Gastro meaning stomach and dermis meaning skin. A similar class of creatures on earth is the gastropod which literally means stomach foot. This class of animals includes the common snail.

enter image description here

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A few suggestions:

  • Dermophage
  • Dermostome
  • Stomatoderm

Dermis = skin, phage = eat, and stomata = mouth. So that would roughly translate to "skin eater", "skin mouth" and "mouth of skin". I don't think gastroderm would be entirely appropriate since the skin is only used for ingestion of food, not necessarily the dissolving of it.

Mind you, it eats a lot of plants, so it might be a herbivore. It's not the percentage that matters, but the adaptations. Is it better adapted for eating plants or absorbing nutrients through the skin? For example, an animal can still be a (hypo)carnivore if it eats only 30% meat and 70% other, provided it has the adaptations of a carnivore.

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    $\begingroup$ Very fair point, I suppose it depends on whether the nutrients go through any further digestive process after entering the organism. $\endgroup$
    – Jackom5
    May 7, 2019 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Jackom5 Yeah, I just thought it best not to assume what hadn't been said. $\endgroup$
    – SealBoi
    May 7, 2019 at 18:45
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I usually call that a sponge; they are a type of sessile metazoan.

You could call them aquavores, but that seems to already refer to a fad diet.

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I think Willk and Jackom5 are on spot. I propose an alternative, "dermotroph".

Autotrophs are animals that synthetize their own food. Heterotrophs take their food from the environment. "Troph" here means eat. So an animal that eats through the skin would be a "dermotroph".

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