‘TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS’: REEF FISH & CLEANING STATIONS
A cleaning station is a place where fish and and other aquatic life congregate to be cleaned. This involves the removal of parasites both externally and internally, and is be performed by various creatures including, on the coral reefs of the Bahamas, cleaner shrimps and various species of cleaning fish such as wrasses and gobies. The process conveniently benefits both the cleaned and the cleaner.
Tiger Grouper being cleaned by Cleaner Shrimps
Blue Parrotfish being cleaned (or tickled, from its expression) by a Cleaner Shrimp
Black Grouper being cleaned by gobies – note the ones in its mouth
Black Grouper at a Cleaning Station with gobies. Note the hook and line…
Tiger Grouper being cleaned by Gobies
Gobies checking a hand for parasites….
When a fish approaches a cleaning station it will open its mouth wide or position its body in such a way as to signal that it needs cleaning. The cleaner fish will then remove and eat the parasites from the skin, even swimming into the mouth and gills of the fish being cleaned.
“Clean me!” An amazing view of a Tiger Grouper at a CleaningStation with its gills wide open
Grouper at a cleaning station over a sponge
Remora clinging to a shark. For more on this unusual symbiotic relationship, click HERE
All photos: Melinda Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba, with thanks as ever
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