The beauticians of the water world

Cleaner Wrasses
These small reef fish have evolved to make themselves immune to regular attacks from larger predatory fish by offering a much needed service.

bluestreak cleaner wrasse
Adult Blue streak cleaner wrasse
Juvenile Blue streak cleaner wrasse

Most fish develop camouflage to prevent themselves from being eaten or have schooling behaviour to confuse their attackers. The cleaner wrasse has bold bright colours and a distinct shape, so rather than live in fear this clever little guy survives death by cleaning the parasites that inhabit the gills, fins and scales of other fish. Some fish even get dental from these guys, that’s very trusting of the cleaner wrasse.
The cleaner wrasse has what is known as  a cleaning station, so fish actually have a location of where to clean up. The wrasse draws attention to his station by performing a dance to show he is ready for customers.

BSCW cleaning the body of a Surf parrotfish
BSCW performing it’s dance to invite customers (a Green pastel wrasse)

There are some species of fish that mimic this clever fish. Species such as the false cleaner fish (aspidontus taeniatus) look almost identical and even display the same dances, however this imposter will get his nutritional intake by taking a bite out of the unsuspecting customer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s