Cleaner fish

tribe of fishes

Cleaner fish are fish that provide a service to other fish species by removing dead skin and ectoparasites.[1] This is an example of mutualism, an ecological interaction that benefits both parties.

The cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus removing dead skin and external parasites from the grouper Epinephelus tukula.

A wide variety of fishes show cleaning behaviors. They include wrasse, cichlids, catfish, and gobies, as well as by a number of different species of cleaner shrimp.

There is also at least one predatory mimic, the sabre-toothed blenny. It mimics cleaner fish but in fact bites off pieces of fin.


  1. Curry O. 2005. Morality as natural history. University of London Ph.D. dissertation. Accessed 2009-06-08.