Cleaning Stations

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by Rhaki
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Cleaning Stations

Cleaning Stations A cleaning station, usually near coral reefs, seaweed, or in rivers, is a place where both freshwater and saltwater life such as fish, sea turtles, and hippos gather to be cleaned of their parasites internally and externally by many species of cleaner fish and cleaner shrimp. This is a symbiotic relationship; fish get cleaned of their parasites and cleaner fish benefit with a meal. To signal that it needs cleaning, the animal will go to a cleaning station and open its mouth wide or position its body in a specific way. Then parasites on the animal’s body will be eaten from their skin, mouth, and even their gills by cleaner fish swimming around their bodies.

By Mercy Bickell and Paris Miller

Wrasse:This is a potato cod being cleaned by several wrasses. Wrasses are colorful, carnivorous fish that are usually less than 20 cm long. They mainly live in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans in coral reefs or other shallow habitats. They feed on dead scales and dead tissue, but sometimes they eat healthy tissue and mucus instead.

Cleaner shrimp:The cleaner shrimp here is cleaning an eel's mouth of parasites.Cleaner shrimp are small, slightly translucent decapod crustaceans that molt. They crawl on or even in their gills of the fish that come to their cleaning station. They are usually only a pair of shrimp at each cleaning station. If there are more, they usually fight to the death until there are only two. To attract clients to their area to get cleaned at a cleaning station, the shrimps will rock back and forth in a sort of dance. Cleaner shrimps scavenge during the day and then clean other fish. In addition to parasites and dead tissue. vegetable items found among reeds are also eaten by cleaner shrimp.

Doctor fish:The doctor fish seen here are giving a spa treatment to someone's foot.The doctor fish of the central Middle East is used in spa resorts in Hakone, Japan; Umag, Croatia; and other places to clean bathers. The practice is banned in the most of the United States and Canada because they believe it is unsanitary. They are also used to help treat patients with psoriasis, a condition in which typically the skin gains scaly red and white patches and for which there is no cure currently.

Goby:The cleaner goby here is seen cleaning and tiger grouper. It is the sliver of blue on top.Gobies are another type of cleaner fish. They are usually less than 10 cm in length and they live in sea grass meadows, tide pools, and coral reefs. Although often food to such species as cod, groupers, and snapper, the goby, when cleaning fish, is not treated as such.

A video of Dory getting cleaned at a cleaning station:)

Sometimes fish like the saber-toothed blenny shown here mimic the appearance of cleaner fish and then get close to other fish just to feed on healthy scales and mucus.


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