Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 225–232

Cleaning behavior ofBodianus rufus, Thalassoma bifasciatum, Gobiosoma evelynae, andPericlimenes pedersoni along a depth gradient at Salt River Submarine Canyon, St. Croix


  • William S. Johnson
    • Biological SciencesGoucher College
  • Peter Ruben
    • Hopkins Marine Station and Department of Biological SciencesStanford University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00004913

Cite this article as:
Johnson, W.S. & Ruben, P. Environ Biol Fish (1988) 23: 225. doi:10.1007/BF00004913


Cleaning activity at specific cleaning stations was monitored over a depth range of 15–45 m at Salt River Submarine Canyon, St. Croix using the HYDROLAB underwater habitat. We observed over 4600 cleaning events involving 32 host species. Cleaners included the fishesGobiosoma evelynae (cleaning goby), juvenileBodianus rufus (Spanish hogfish) and juvenileThalassoma bifasciatum (bluehead wrasse) and the shrimpPericlimenes pedersoni, often active simultaneously at the same stations. Although cleaning was observed to depths of 30 m, the greatest density of cleaning fishes occurred at a sharp break in the bottom contour at 15 m.Clepticus parrae was the dominant fish cleaned by fishes (80% of events), and the graysby,Petrometopon cruentatum, was most frequently cleaned byPericlimenes. Cleaning was initiated byGobiosoma at 0600 to 0630 h and continued throughout the day as intense bouts of cleaning activity were interspersed with periods of relative calm.Bodianus patrolled areas of several meters and would sometimes rise over a meter above the substrate to initiate cleaning. In contrast, gobies were much more restricted in both lateral and vertical movements.Gobiosoma andBodianus cleaned 3104 and 1346 hosts during the study compared to only 207 forThalassoma. This study of a deeper reef area shows significantly more cleaning activity byBodianus and much less byThalassoma than has been reported from other studies in shallower water

Key words

Cleaning symbiosisCleaning stationsCaribbeanCoral reef

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988