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Patterns of cleaning behaviour on coral reef fish by the anemoneshrimp Ancylomenes pedersoni

  • Lindsay K. Huebner (a1) and Nanette E. Chadwick (a1)


Little is known about the cleaning behaviour of shrimps in comparison to that of cleaner fish, and only recently have cleaner shrimps been shown to remove parasites effectively from coral reef fish. Here we describe patterns of cleaning interactions between Pederson shrimp Ancylomenes pedersoni and fish clients in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Clients observed here were members of at least 16 fish families, including three previously unreported client families. Most cleans lasted <20 seconds; surgeonfish were cleaned most frequently, but lizardfish and groupers received the longest cleans. The shrimp formed social groups of varying sizes on individuals of the host sea anemone Bartholomea annulata, which served as the centres of their cleaning stations. The number and duration of cleans per station increased with the number of resident shrimp, however most anemones hosted small groups of fewer than four individuals, while larger groups of up to nine individuals were relatively rare. Some client fish chased away other fish and competitively excluded them from anemone stations. We conclude that these shrimp clean a wide diversity of clients, vary their clean duration with fish identity, and clean more when in large groups. In addition, clients in part control these patterns of interaction by interfering with access to these stations by other clients.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: L.K. Huebner, Department of Biological Sciences, 101 Rouse Life Sciences Building, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849 email:


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