FACT SHEET 5
• There are a few different species of cleaner shrimp but all have the same mutual relationship with fish, providing them with cleaning services and receiving a food supply in return.
• Like cleaner wrasses these crustaceans hang around cleaning stations during the day, and often retreat into crevices at night. They usually have vibrant colours (like the banded coral shrimp which is red and white) which help promote their cleaning services to others.
• They are important in the reef’s ecology as they help maintain a parasite-free food chain.
• Humans collect these animals for the aquarium trade, as they also help keep the tank clean.
• The banded coral shrimp is one of the marine invertebrates counted in a Reef Check Australia survey. It is around a few centimeters long and has red bands around its body, and long, white antennae. The body is covered with short spines, which are used in defence. Their red and white bands serve as an advertisement of its cleaning services and make them easy to be seen.
Interesting Fact: Snorkelers can get their teeth cleaned if they keep their mouth open long enough for the shrimp to enter.
• ReefED: http://www.reefed.edu.au/home/explorer/animals/marine_invertebrates/crustaceans/shrimps
• Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleaner_shrimp
• Reef News – Banded Coral Shrimp: http://www.reefnews.com/reefnews/photos/shrimp1.html