UnderSeaScapes Cleaning Station

by Steve Dramstad AKA Xcalak Steve

There are many ways that underwater creatures interact with each other. One of the most fascinating ways they interact is at a cleaning station. There are many fish and shrimp that act as cleaners. They bite or pick off dead skin, parasites or excess food stuck in the teeth of other fish. The Pederson Cleaning Shrimp is one of the most common of the cleaners. They usually set up shop in sea anemones. The fish will swim right up to the anemone and the shrimp will swim out and start cleaning.

Last year I was out on a dive and was going to take a few shots of a Corkscrew Anemone that had a few cleaning shrimp living inside. As I was getting ready to shoot, a Sand Diver fish swam right up and landed on the bottom, directly between the camera and the anemone.

It hadn't been on the bottom for more then a few seconds before the shrimp were all over it.

As you can see, the fish let the shrimp climb all over it, including in its mouth and gills and around the eyes. The next time you see a fish motionless on the bottom with its mouth open or its gills flared out, look for the fish or shrimp that is working on it.

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