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    Blue and Yellow, The Fish Cleaning Uniform

    A Labroides cleaner wrasse helps out a willing client–Pseudanthias pleurotaenia Over the past ten years Karen Cheney has been investigating the various social structures on coral reefs revolving around fish cleaning. As hobbyists we’re lucky to enjoy this event on regular occasion should we choose–Cleaner Shrimps and Neon Gobies are both hardy and adamant cleaners […]

    Cleaner wrasse

    A Labroides cleaner wrasse helps out a willing client–Pseudanthias pleurotaenia

    Over the past ten years Karen Cheney has been investigating the various social structures on coral reefs revolving around fish cleaning. As hobbyists we’re lucky to enjoy this event on regular occasion should we choose–Cleaner Shrimps and Neon Gobies are both hardy and adamant cleaners in captive aquaria. This fascinating act is filled with even more wonderment when a small fish tediously cleans much larger predators such as Moray Eels and Groupers. How are they not eaten?

    We’ve generally assumed markings play an important role. Most fish, such as Cleaner wrasses, feature horizontal bands of contrasting color. White, blacks, blues and yellows are all common. In the past this was just a correlation, but Dr. Cheney and her peers have executed some interesting experiments on the reef involving “fake” cleaners and the results enforce and help validate the role markings play in cleaning on the reef.¬†“We believe that they do exhibit a ‘cleaner uniform’ in order to make them conspicuous and easy to distinguish on a coral reef,” said Cheney.

    Placing fake fish that were painted with various patterns and colors on a natural coral reef, the research team observed that those painted with blue colors and striped body patterns enticed more fish to stop by ¬†their “cleaning station.” The team also looked at the visual systems of various species. Using a that model that interprets how fish see colors they found that blue and yellow would contrast most against the reef.

    [via : National Geographic]

    [photo : Tim Laman ]

    One Comment

    1. September 13, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

      Interesting perspective.

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