To use all functions of this page, please activate cookies in your browser.
With an accout for my.bionity.com you can always see everything at a glance – and you can configure your own website and individual newsletter.
- My watch list
- My saved searches
- My saved topics
- My newsletter
Cleaner fish are fishes that provide a service to other fish species by removing dead skin and parasites. This is an example of mutualism, an ecological interaction that benefits both parties involved. A wide variety of fishes have been observed to display cleaning behaviours including wrasses, cichlids, catfish, and gobies, as well as by a number of different species of cleaner shrimp. There is also at least one predatory mimic, the sabre-toothed blenny, that mimics cleaner fish but in fact feeds on healthy scales and mucous.
Additional recommended knowledge
Diversity of cleaner fish
The best known cleaner fish are the cleaner wrasses of the genus Labroides found on coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. These small fish maintain so-called cleaning stations where other fish, known as hosts, will congregate and perform specific movements to attract the attention of the cleaner fish. Remarkably, these small cleaner fish will safely clean large predatory fish that would otherwise eat small fishes such as these. Cleaner wrasses appear to get almost all their nutrition through this cleaning service, and when maintained in aquaria rarely survive for long because they cannot obtain enough to eat.
Brackish water fishes
An interesting example of a cleaning symbiosis has been observed between two brackish water cichlids of the genus Etroplus from South Asia. The small species Etroplus maculatus is the cleaner fish, and the much larger Etroplus suratensis is the host that receives the cleaning service.
Cleaning is notably less common in freshwater habitats than in marine habitats. One of the few examples of cleaning is juvenile Striped Raphael catfish cleaning the piscivorous Hoplias cf. malabaricus.
The sabre-toothed blenny Aspidontus taeniatus is a blenny that mimics the cleaner wrasse. Instead of providing a useful cleaning service, however, it bites off pieces of healthy skin and scales from the host before darting away to safety.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cleaner_fish". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|