Cleaning relationship between sunfish (client fish) and wrasses (cleaner fish)- Video

Video client: Patricia Martin Cabrera

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the video channel)

Sunfish in Spanish waters


This video was filmed in the Mediterranean Sea of Granada (Spain). The video shows a specimen of sunfish (Mola mola) upon receiving a cleaning service from a small fish of the Mediterranean rainbow wrasse in a symbolic relationship.

The sunfish (Mola mola) is actually the heaviest known bony fish in the world and can weigh close to 1000 kg. The species is known by its heavy parasitic load and hence the cleaning service is so much needed to get relieved. On the other hand, cleaner fish provide the cleaning service by removing dead skin and ectoparasites from their clients and feeding on what they remove.  This cleaning symbiosis is an example of mutualism, an ecological interaction that benefits both parties involved.

It may be of interest to know there is a sort of specialization in the cleaning process whereas wrasse primarily cleans around the gills and mouth whereas other species focus on the eyes and other parts.  

Depending on species, cleaner fish have their species-specific adaptation to advertise their services which could be provided through the so-called cleaning stations to where client fish once they feel an urgent need to remove parasitic problems, they approach the cleaning stations and perform specific signals to attract the attention of the cleaner fish. Also, the client fish may adopt a species-specific pose to allow the cleaner access to its body surface, gills and mouth.




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