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Cleaner shrimp facts for kids

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Lysmata amboinensis cleans mouth of a Moray eel
A Pacific cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis, cleans the mouth of a moray eel.

Cleaner shrimp is a common name for a number of swimming decapod crustaceans that clean other organisms of parasites.

Cleaner shrimp are so called as they exhibit a cleaning symbiosis with client fish where the shrimp clean parasites from the fish. They are often included in saltwater aquaria partly due to this relationship.


Bruuns Cleaning Partner Shrimp - Urocaridella Antonbruunii (3916088976)
Urocaridella antonbruunii

Cleaner shrimp exhibit cleaning symbiosis: a relationship in which individuals from different species benefit from cleaning. The fish benefit by having parasites removed from them, and the shrimp gain the nutritional value of the parasites. In many coral reefs, cleaner shrimp congregate at cleaning stations. In this behaviour cleaner shrimps are similar to cleaner fish, and sometimes may join with cleaner wrasse and other cleaner fish attending to client fishes.

Some breeds of shrimp live in caves on the reef and are not associated with other animals. These shrimp assemble around cleaning stations where up to 25 shrimp live in proximity. When a potential client fish swims close to a station with shrimp present, several shrimp perform a "rocking dance," a side-to-side movement, to attract the client. Frequency of rocking increases with hunger. This increase in frequency suggests competition between hungry and sated shrimp.

In popular culture

Jacques, a French-accented cleaner shrimp voiced by Joe Ranft, appears in the 2003 film Finding Nemo, helping keep the tank clean.

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