Common Cleanerfish, Labroides dimidiatus (Valenciennes 1839)
A pair of Common Cleanerfish, Labroides dimidiatus, at Fly Point, Port Stephens, New South Wales. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Video of a pair of Common Cleanerfish spawning
Common Cleanerfish, Labroides dimidiatus (Valenciennes 1839)
|Found in Australian waters from about Perth (Western Australia) to Sydney (New South Wales); also at Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical and subtropical Red Sea and Indo-Pacific.|
|Has a specialised diet of crustacean ectoparasites (especially gnathid isopods) and fish skin mucous from larger reef fishes. Common Cleanerfish attract 'clients' by performing a display dance, then swim along the surface of their host, removing parasites with their specialised mouth parts.|
Like all wrasses, this species changes sex from female to male as they get older - all juveniles start life as females. Cleaner wrasses start their lives as females, and change sex from female to male as they grow. They occur in small haremic groups comprising a dominant male and up to 5 females. The group sets up a "cleaning station" in a prominent position such as a large coral outcrop, and larger fishes aggregate nearby to have crustacean ectoparasites removed.
Studies have shown that when females are removed, the dominant male may pair up with another male, or with a male/female pair. In both cases, the subordinate male will undergo a sex-reversal and become female again.
IUCN Red List: Least Concern
Bray, D.J. 2017
Common Cleanerfish, Labroides dimidiatus (Valenciennes 1839)
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