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Cleaning symbiosis in an obligate goby–shrimp association

Abstract

Shrimps from the genus Alpheidae had never been considered as a cleaner organism. In the present study, we demonstrate for the first time, Alpheus rapax engaging in cleaning symbiosis with its gobiid fish associate Myersina macrostoma. Within 450 min of observation time, 9 instances totalling 546 s of cleaning behaviour were recorded. Cleaning behaviour was always preceded by physical contact between the shrimps and their goby associates. The shrimps initiated all cleaning incidents, but these were always terminated by the gobies. Cleaning sessions were observed to occur mostly in the tail region (60.8 %) and followed by the head region (26.2 %). In one instance, a shrimp was observed to clean the gills of its goby associate. The gobies appear to exert some control as to where they were being cleaned by repositioning themselves during a cleaning session.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Zeng Yiwen for his help in obtaining specimens for this study and the support staff at the Marine Aquarium, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. We thank the two anonymous reviewers, whose comments improved the manuscript. This study was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, National University of Singapore to Hou Zhisheng and Joseph Liew.

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Correspondence to Zeehan Jaafar.

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Communicated by D. Goulet.

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Hou, Z., Liew, J. & Jaafar, Z. Cleaning symbiosis in an obligate goby–shrimp association. Mar Biol 160, 2775–2779 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2252-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2252-2

Keywords

  • Video Footage
  • Form Association
  • Gobiid Fish
  • Cleaning Behaviour
  • Major Cheliped