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Cleaning stations

A symbiotic relationship between marine life


The coral reefs in the Red Sea have many examples of fascinating practices.
One of these practices is the symbiotic relationship or inter-relationship between two different species. This is most clearly demonstrated at cleaning stations.

In this situation the cleaner provideS an essential service in cleaning his customer from parasites and dead tissues, while gaining himself a meal at the same time. The cleaner is allowed to clean all the body of his client, even inside his mouth and between his teeth. The most famous examples in the Red Sea are the long-arm cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes longicarpus), cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) and Four line wrasse ( Larabicus quadrilineatus).

All of these creatures establish cleaning stations at the reef slope between crevices and under ledges up to 20 metres in depth. Typically, from 12 to 2pm every day, big fishes like jackfish and groupers, and many others, sit motionless at the cleaning station, waiting for the removal of waste between their teeth, and parasites.
 

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