Monday, 12 August 2019
SPOTTED CLEANER SHRIMP
That's right, a Fish Wash. You'd be hard pressed to find a terrestrial Molly Maid with two opposable thumbs as studious and hardworking as this wee marine beauty. You'll find them each day cleaning and snacking on a host of parasites. As many as twenty to thirty shrimp gather together to assemble a highly-efficient marine cleaning station. They're even open to partnerships and mergers, partnering up with Cleaner Wrasse, or cleaner fish, for larger, high-end clients.
Spotted cleaner shrimp are about 2.5 cm long and have a delightful transparent body with telltale white and brown spots. Their legs, or chelae, are striped in purple, white and red. They live about 24 metres (or 79 ft) down on the sea floor in many of our planet's most beautiful waters. Aside from the Caribbean, they also enjoy setting up shop in the Bahamas, southern Florida and live as far south as Panama and Columbia.They are carnivorous crustaceans in the family, Palaemonidae.
This quiet marine mogul is turning out to be one of the ocean's top entrepreneurs. Keeping its host and diet clean and green, the spotted shrimp hooks up with the locals, in this case, local sea anemones and sets up a fish wash. Picture a car wash but without the noise and teenage boys. The signage posted is the shrimps' natural coloring which attracts fish from around the reefs.
Wash on, wash off.
Once within reach, the shrimp cleans the surface of the fish, giving the fish a buff and the shrimp its daily feed. This is good news for the shrimp, especially this time of year as they breed and brood their eggs in summer. After hatching, the larvae pass through many (sadly, tasty) planktonic stages before setting up a fish wash of their own. Once they are older, they gain some protection from being eaten by their clients by a special signalling system that essentially shouts, "just here cooperation not as food." Here's to Periclimenes for keeping up the family business.