Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 213–220

A comparative study of cleaning activity of two reef fishes at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic



Cleaner fishes are usually classified as obligate or facultative cleaners according to their diet and the extent to which their nutritional requirements in the different ontogenetic stages are gained from cleaning. While obligate cleaners clean throughout their lives and ingest mainly food taken from the clients’ body surface, facultative cleaners clean only as juveniles and have a broader diet. In addition, some facultative cleaners may experience a relatively higher predation risk, and thus rarely interact with piscivorous fishes. Despite these acknowledged differences, there are very few studies that compare cleaning activity of obligate and facultative cleaners within the same area. Cleaning activity of the obligate cleaner goby Elacatinus cf. randalli and the facultative cleaner wrasse Thalassoma noronhanum were comparatively examined at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic. The client assemblage attended by the two cleaners differed, as the goby attended a slightly greater diversity of species (22), mostly piscivores and zoobenthivores, and the wrasse attended fewer species (19), mostly planktivores. Chromis multilineata was the most common client species of both cleaners, although body size (which is expected to be positively correlated to clients’ ectoparasite load) of C. multilineata individuals attended by the goby was larger than that of the individuals attended by the wrasse. Despite such differences, T. noronhanum showed a surprisingly species-rich client assemblage when compared with other cleaners of the genus Thalassoma. In addition, the frequency and time spent on cleaning interactions, as well as the number of client species attended per 10-min period, was similar for both cleaner species, which indicate that they have important yet complimentary ecological roles in the reef community at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago.


Cleaning symbiosis Elacatinus Thalassoma: SW Atlantic Brazil 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Grupo de Pesquisas em Recifes de Corais e Mudanças GlobaisUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Zoologia e Museu de História NaturalUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinasBrazil

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