Long-Term Effects of the Cleaner Fish Labroides dimidiatus on Coral Reef Fish Communities
All these species play a role in the reef ecosystem; some fish provide food for One of the most striking examples of symbiosis involves the cleaner wrasse. Keywords: cleaning mutualism, recruitment, ectoparasites, reef fish . of coral reef fish populations in relation to cleaner wrasse presence . Cleaner Wrasse gained their name by setting up 'cleaning stations' in which fish This mutual relationship between Cleaner Wrasse and the entire reef fish.
Experimental reefs with number of cleaner fish present or removed. Furthermore, mechanisms that may shift fish community structure in the presence of cleaning organisms are unclear. This is the first study to demonstrate a benefit of cleaning behaviour to client individuals, in the form of increased size, and to elucidate potential mechanisms leading to community-wide effects on the fish population.
Many of the fish groups affected may also indirectly affect other reef organisms, thus further impacting the reef community. The large-scale effect of the presence of the relatively small and uncommon fish, Labroides dimidiadus, on other fishes is unparalleled on coral reefs.
Cleaning behaviour has been used as a classic example of mutualism and, recently, to test cooperation theory . Surprisingly, the health benefit to clients, in terms of body size, has never been measured  nor have any mechanisms involved in effects on fish communities  been elucidated.
UH Biology» Blog Archive » Mutualism and the Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides Dimidiatus)
On Atlantic and Indo-Pacific coral reefs, cleaner fishes interact with many client fish species  — . There has been considerable debate about the mutualistic nature of cleaning symbioses. Benefits to cleaners are well documented; cleaners enjoy nutritional rewards from eating ectoparasites and protection from predation .
The benefit of cleaning to clients, however, remains contentious.
Fish parasites can lower host growth, recruitment, and fecundity, and increase mortality . They have also been shown to affect fish foraging, swimming, and anti-predator behavior . Thus, variation in parasite loads can lead to changes in their host community. However, early experimental removals of cleaner fish found no effects on ectoparasite or fish numbers after the removal of L.
In contrast, the removal of L. A short-term study 24 h and 12 d at Lizard Island found that caged Hemigymnus melapterus had more and different sizes of parasitic isopods in the absence of cleaners, compared with controls . After 18 months, at Lizard Island, the species richness and abundance of visitors were reduced; however, no effect on resident species richness was detected .
A reduction in visitors could simply involve a change in visitation rates to reefs; in residents, the presumption is that it is more likely due to lower survivorship or recruitment .
Do cleaning organisms reduce the stress response of client reef fish?
Most importantly, the effect of cleaning on client fish fitness, including fish size, a common measure of condition and growth in fishes has never been measured. 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. 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: Easily distinguished by a bright blue and yellow band, the cleaner wrasse makes an effort to advertise its services by performing a dance.
Likewise, when a fish wants to be "cleaned" it sends specific signals to the wrasse, such as keeping its body stationary, while spreading its fins and gills and opening its mouth.
Cooperation in the cleaner fish-client mutualism - Social Evolution and Behaviour Lab
If the wrasse picks up on the signal it will begin the cleaning process on its customer, which is usually a larger fish. Cleaning consists of the wrasse swimming over the entire body of its customer, eating parasites from the fins and gills.
The wrasse will even go inside the mouth and clean between the teeth of its customer. Interestingly enough, the wrasse is rarely injured or eaten by the other fish; the wrasse vibrates its fins while cleaning to remind its customer of its presence.
Moreover, the cleaned animal will frequently defend the cleaning station and its cleaners from attack by would-be predators. Almost all marine species are actively involved in close symbiotic relationships with at least one other species in their community.