The Cleaner Wrasse - Helping to Keep Fish Parasite Free, Belize Barrier Reef
Cleaner fish are fish that provide a service to other species by removing dead skin and cleaner wrasses removing dead skin and external parasites from the potato grouper The cleaning symbiosis is an example of mutualism, an ecological The best known cleaner fish are the cleaner wrasses of the genus Labroides. By Laura Vander Meiden, RJD Intern. The relationship between cleaner wrasse and reef fish has long been one of the textbook examples of. By removing bloodsucking parasites, the cleaner wrasse improves the At particular sites, an itchy individual can attract the attention of the or groupers— the cleaners prioritize them over smaller fish that live in the area. In many ways, they're the glue that cements the relationship between the cleaners.
Still other species have symbiotic relationships with other fish, a relationship in which both species benefit.
One of the most striking examples of symbiosis involves the cleaner wrasse. This fish is responsible for setting up what are known as "cleaning stations," providing a valuable service to other fish by picking off and "cleaning" its customers of parasites and dead tissue.
The wrasse, in turn, receives nutrients from the parasites and tissue. The parasites that the wrasse consume are organisms that live on or within the body of a host, in this case a fish. Often, parasites are simply small crustaceans that live between the scales of fish and feed on its tissue. It is not known whether these critters, which are a fact of life for many fish, are anything more than an annoyance, but it is clear that most fish prefer to have them removed.
For this removal, many fish turn to the cleaner wrasse to get the job done. Reef Brief is a weekly column published in the San Pedro Sun The cleaner wrasse, one of species of wrasse, is found along coral reefs worldwide and usually choose a home along the reef that is popular among fish to set up its cleaning station. At this location, various fish literally line up and wait to be "cleaned" by the wrasse.
- 5 Cleaner Wrasse Myths
This is one of the few cases in which varying species of fish actually inhabit the same space without becoming territorial or aggressive with each other. It's clear that these fish have one thing on their mind when they line up at the cleaning station: Much of the research on cleaner fish ecology, particularly the Indo-Pacific cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, Labridae and Caribbean gobies Elacatinus sp.
Jordan Gobiidaehas been conducted by observing small-sized or territorial client fishes such as wrasses Labridae and damselfishes Pomacentridae. Studies on the cleaning ecology of these commercially important fish have shown that grouper spend a significant portion of their time in cleaning activities Sluka and Sullivan, ; Sluka, Grouper microhabitat utilization and movement patterns are significantly influenced by the position of cleaning stations on coral reefs Sluka et al.
This study examined the amount of time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent in cleaning activities on reefs in the Republic of Maldives, specifically focusing on evaluating the importance of grouper species as a client and whether this relationship changes among client species, client size and reef habitats. Materials and Methods Study site The Republic of Maldives is a chain of coral reef atolls stretching from about 7 degrees north latitude to 0.
For the purposes of this study, reefs have been placed into three main categories: Reefs found on the side of the islands facing the open ocean are termed outside and those on the side of the islands facing into the central atoll lagoon are termed inside. Faros are circular reef structures which rise from the central atoll floor. There is a typical zonation to most reefs progressing from inshore to offshore with a shallow sandy lagoon, reef flat, reef crest, and reef slope.
The outside atoll rim reef slope drops precipitously to about m, slopes gently for about a half kilometer to m depth, then drops again to abyssal depths Anderson et al. The inside atoll rim reef slope drops steeply to about m then grades into a sandy bottom which occupies the inner portion of the atoll. Laamu Atoll inner lagoon reached 73 m in depth. Faros are circular reefs in the central atoll lagoon with similar reef zonation as the reef slope habitats: Cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, were observed for periods of one minute at ten second intervals, including zero seconds as an observation.
Observations occurred Januarybetween and hours local time. Observers recorded at each ten second interval whether or not the cleaner wrasse was inspecting another fish and whether or not the fish it was inspecting was a grouper.
A three-way ANOVA with observer and habitat as fixed factors and sites nested in habitat was used to test for differences in the mean number of ten second intervals per observation period that the cleaner was observed inspecting clients. There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning clients per one minute period among observers.
There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning clients per one minute period among habitats.
There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning clients per one minute period among sites within habitats. This test was also used to analyze the data for grouper clients alone which resulted in the following null hypotheses tested: There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning grouper per one minute period among observers.
There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning grouper per one minute period among habitats. There is no significant difference in the mean time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning grouper per one minute period among sites within habitats.
Data from all sites were pooled due to non-significant differences in cleaning rates from ANOVA analyses. Results Cleaner fish behaviour Cleaner fish were observed at all sites combined for one-minute periods. Individuals were observed inspecting clients Groupers were the subject being inspected 5.
Four grouper species were observed as clients: There were also no significant differences in the mean time cleaning fish inspected grouper clients among the observers, habitat types or sites Figure 1B. Discussion This study examined the amount of time cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent cleaning grouper species in the Maldives and found that grouper are an important client.
Grouper were clients Habitat and depth did not affect overall cleaning rates or cleaning rates when grouper were clients at our study sites. The cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus Valenciennes, spent Overall cleaning rates for grouper was 5. Of those fish cleaned, A Labroides dimidiatus cleaning rate mean observations per one minute period, maximum of 7 fish was observed inspecting or cleaning a client among three reef slope habitat types.
In contrast, Sluka examined six grouper species and found cleaner wrasse L.
Grouper also feature as more prominent clients in several studies conducted in the Caribbean region. One tiger grouper Mycteroperca tigris Valenciennes, was observed cleaning in one event for 45 minutes. Sluka and Sullivan found that coney Cephalopholis fulva Linnaeus, and Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus Bloch, spent 7.
In contrast, Potts did not record any grouper among the top ten most cleaned client species; in several of his experiments, grouper were These same factors are also an important influence on grouper cleaning ecology. Sluka examined the activity patterns of six grouper species. There were significant differences in the amount of time spent cleaning among species. Sluka and Sullivan showed inter and intra-specific variability in cleaning rates between coney Cephalopholis fulva Linnaeus, and Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus Bloch, Differences in cleaning rate may be most significantly related to size differences within and among grouper species.
Size has been shown to be related to cleaning rate for many client species. Grutter showed that cleaner wrasse L. Larger client species are also found more often near cleaning stations than smaller species Poulin Smaller cm TL graysby C.
However, Sluka found no correlative evidence between cleanign rates and fish size either within or among species. Given the size range of grouper available for study maximum TL 20 cm and the importance of cleaning stations to grouper distribution, this subfamily may be an excellent choice for examining this question further. For example, graysby C. Amongst studies where data is available for grouper, there appears to be cleaner-client preferences.
Wicksten ; examined how often five cleaning organisms three fish and two shrimp cleaned grouper. The percentages differed between the two studies, but gobies Elacatinus sp. Whiteman and Cote also showed differences in the percent of visits grouper made to cleaning stations between two goby species.
Data is lacking to make firm conclusions, but it suggests that groupers have preferences for certain cleaning organisms. Whether this is of a general nature i. Evidence supporting the conclusion that the grouper-cleaner relationship is species-specific comes from a feeding experiment where juvenile bluehead wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum which does not clean as an adult, and cleaner gobies where introduced into tanks containing various species of grouper.
No grouper species ate the gobies, while red hind E. No inter-habitat differences in cleaning behavior were found in this study. However, habitats examined were all reef slopes with differing geo-morphological and biological features and may not have exhibited enough differences to influence cleaner behavior.
Grouper assemblages are significantly different among these habitats Sluka,but these differences do not result in differing cleaning rates.
Cleaner fish - Wikipedia
Other studies which have examined coral reef habitats with more significant differences e. Grouper distribution, density, and species diversity generally varies among habitats at several spatial scales Sluka et al. In an experimental study in the Bahamas, Sluka et al.