Cleaning Fish, Whitsundays
Cleaning station fish are located where fish and other marine life congregate to be cleaned.The cleaning process includes parasites being removed from the fishes body, This is done mainly by cleaner wrasse fish (in picture) and other species of cleaner fish.
A fish will approach the station and pose in an unnatural way to show they want to be cleaned and pose no danger to the cleaner fish. some fish will change their color slightly to indicate safety for the cleaner fish. The cleaner will then eat the parasites directly from the skin of the clean fish. It will even swim and clean inside the gills and mouth opened wide by the cleaned fish.
Cleaning stations can be found either on top of a coral head or in a slot between two outcroppings or underneath plate coral.
It is also know for cleaner fish to go on "house calls" to fish who are territorial and will not leave there home to go to a cleaning station.
The best known cleaner fish are the cleaner wrasses found on coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park part of the Pacific Ocean. These small fish maintain so-called cleaning stations where other fish, known as hosts, will congregate and perform specific movements to attract the attention of the cleaner fish. Cleaner wrasses appear to get almost all their nutrition through this cleaning service, and when maintained in aquarium rarely survive for long because they cannot obtain enough to eat.
For divers it can be fascinating to watch the wonderful relationship between these two mutually helpful marine animals, truly a relationship that benefits both marine animals.