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Cleaner fish wear 'uniforms' to signal their professions to clients.

Byline: ANI

Washington, August 21 (ANI): A new study has determined that like police and nurses, cleaner fish Cleaner fish are fishes that provide a service to other fish species by removing dead skin and parasites. This is an example of mutualism, an ecological interaction that benefits both parties involved.  on coral reefs coral reefs, limestone formations produced by living organisms, found in shallow, tropical marine waters. In most reefs, the predominant organisms are stony corals, colonial cnidarians that secrete an exoskeleton of calcium carbonate (limestone).  wear 'uniforms', which are basically colors and body patterns, to signal their "professions" - a tactic that also helps the fish avoid being eaten by their clients.

Several species of small reef fish are known to invite larger fish to stop by "cleaning stations," where the cleaners groom their customers and pick them free of parasites.

The clients swim away spic-and-span, and the cleaners get an easy meal, which is a classic example of a mutually beneficial Adj. 1. mutually beneficial - mutually dependent
interdependent, mutualist

dependent - relying on or requiring a person or thing for support, supply, or what is needed; "dependent children"; "dependent on moisture"
 relationship, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the researchers.

However, scientists have long wondered how bigger, fish-eating clients find cleaners and apparently recognize that the smaller fish are off the menu.

According to a report in National Geographic News, Karen Cheney and colleagues decided to test the theory that the cleaners' colors and body patterns are what set the fish apart.

Her team found that cleaner fish, such as gobies and wrasses, are more likely to sport a dark side stripe accentuated by patches of blue and yellow.

"We believe that they do exhibit a 'cleaner uniform' in order to make them conspicuous and easy to distinguish on a coral reef," said Cheney, a biologist at the University of Queensland The University of Queensland (UQ) is the longest-established university in the state of Queensland, Australia, a member of Australia's Group of Eight, and the Sandstone Universities. It is also a founding member of the international Universitas 21 organisation.  in Australia.

Cheney and colleagues observed the behavior of several species of wild fish known to visit the cleaners at a site in Australia's Great Barrier Reef Great Barrier Reef, largest complex of coral reef in the world, c.1,250 mi (2,000 km) long, in the Coral Sea, forming a natural breakwater for the coast of Queensland, NE Australia. .

The team then added fake fish, which had been painted with a range of colors and patterns, to the reef.

The researchers found that fish painted with blue colors and striped body patterns enticed more clients to pull up to a cleaning station.

The team also used a well-known model for how fish see colors to examine how three types of client fish-barracuda, damselfish damselfish, common name for members of the large family Pomacentridae, marine fishes of tropical waters. Common in the West Indies and along the Florida coasts are the sergeant-major, named for its vertical stripes, and the reef fish, found among coral reefs. , and surgeonfish-were likely to respond to various hues.

Though each fish species has a different kind of visual system, for all of them, blue would contrast most against the colors of coral reefs.

Yellow would best stand out against blue water backdrops and dark lateral stripes, according top the researchers.

This would make a blue-and-yellow striped fish very obvious to clients as they passed by a reef.

Though no one knows for sure, Cheney said her new study implies that the fish's cleaning behavior evolved before the uniform. (ANI)

Copyright 2009 Asian News International The Asian News International (ANI) agency provides multimedia news to China and 50 bureaus in India. It covers virtually all of South Asia since its foundation and presently claims, on its official website, to be the leading South Asia-wide news agency.  (ANI) - All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Aug 21, 2009
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