Cleaner Wrasse – the heroes of the cleaning stations

05 Nov 2017

With the Lhaviyani manta season in full swing it’s fitting to pay tribute to the little guys that entice the mantas to the cleaning stations – meet the all-important Cleaner Wrasse…

Cleaner Wrasse – the small fish with a big job

  • There are 5 different species of cleaner wrasse, all from the genus Labroides
  • The most common species is the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
  • Cleaner wrasse offer a remarkable cleaning service for other underwater inhabitants
  • They congregate in schools at one point of the reef, this is then called a ‘cleaning station’
  • Feeding on the parasites and mucus as well as dead and damaged scales, they help their cleaning station clients stay healthy
  • Mantas, turtles, fish, and sharks as well as a whole host of other marine creatures are ‘clients’ of the cleaner wrasse
  • Cleaner wrasse clean not only the outer body but also the gill openings and inside the mouth – the client simply opens wide and invites the little guys inside
  • They play an important role on the reefs and are vital to its health
  • The health, size and diversity of fish are bigger at the reefs where cleaner wrasse are found
  • Peaceful and attractive fish, they perform a kind of “dance” in front of their clients to calm them prior to cleaning

Dive into the movie below to take a virtual dive on a cleaning station here in the Maldives – watch carefully to see the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse taking care of their large and graceful clients – the manta rays.