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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Cleaner Wrasses: The Dentists of The Sea

2021-06-11
Language:English
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As you learn about our species, you will be amazed by the job we do. We work just like a beauty salon in the human world. I forgot to tell you that I have a big family, including four unique cousins: the Black Spot, the Hawaiian, the bicolor, and the red lip. All my cousins live mostly in the tropical Pacific Ocean. My kind, the bluestreak, is the most well-known cleaner wrasse of them all. We love to be around coral-rich areas so we can operate our “cleaning stations” better.

People describe us as “slender fish with pointed snouts.” The smallest cousin of mine is the red lip wrasse who is about 9 centimeters in length, and the biggest one in the family is the bicolor wrasse. They potentially reach up to 15 centimeters. We all have “tweezer-like” teeth, which help us do our cleaning job easily, so our clients will no longer suffer from parasites and absolutely enjoy quality lives.

Compared to other marine friends, we are very colorful. Black spots are quite attractive cousins of mine. Before settling down to work, they love to perform a fascinating dance for the clients to relax, so they can do their jobs better. We bluestreak and our Hawaiian cousins have similar lifestyles. We all like to do business with big clients. If ready for the service, the customer will become stationary, stretch out their fins and open their gill covers. Hawaiian wrasses can enter inside the mouth and gill chambers of the large fish to clean. Unlike other varieties of cleaner wrasse, they do not burrow into the sand at night. They rest in a “balloon-like cocoon” that they build using mucus layers.

Do you know what is remarkable about bicolor wrasses and us, the bluestreak cleaner wrasses? The strongest female can turn into a male when the only male in the group dies so that babies can keep being produced. Fish don’t have good tools to clean themselves with, and we have a very loving personality, so we decided to help out. We work four hours a day, seeing more than 2,000 clients!

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