Giant Sea Bass & Cleaner Fish

Observations of Cleaning Symbiosis With Several Species of Small Fish and the Giant Sea Bass
The giant sea bass are often seen with many exoparasites. The photograph to the left shows an adult giant sea bass covered with copepods. These parasites are usually found around the face and gill area. We have observed many small and/or juvenile species of fish providing cleaning services to the giant sea bass. In tropical waters cleaning stations are common, though they are not frequently observed in temperate seas.

Since observations of cleaning symbiosis are uncommon in temperate waters, it was an interesting activity to study. Early in our giant sea bass study, I observed a giant sea bass receiving cleaning from an Island kelpfish, Alloclinus holderi, this species was not previously known to serve as a cleaner.

Since that first observation we documented several additional species of small or juvenile fish cleaning the giant sea bass in California waters. To date the following fish have been observed playing the role of a cleaner to the giant sea bass; the Island kelpfish (Alloclinus holderi), Seniorita (Oxyjulis californica), juvenile sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher), juvenile kelp bass (Paralabrax clthratus), juvenile giant kelpfish (Heterostichus rostratus), and the bluebanded goby (Lythrypnus dalli).

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