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Cleaner Fish

Cleaning station fish are located where fish and other marine life congregate to be cleaned. They are the little fish that are often seen covering the bodies of bigger fish. Their job is to clean parasites and other debris from the larger fish’s body, and in turn they get a free meal. Often time, cleaner fish in the Whitsundays it the cleaner wrasse, but there are several other species of cleaner fish that live here.

The event begins when a fish will approach the station and pose in an unnatural way to show they want to be cleaned and pose no danger to the cleaner fish. Sometimes, some fish will change their colour slightly to indicate safety for the cleaner fish. This is when the cleaner fish know it’s safe to approach to begin their job. The cleaner start their job by eating the parasites directly from the skin of the larger fish. It will even swim and clean inside the gills and mouth opened wide by the cleaned fish to ensure they do a thorough deep clean.

Cleaning stations can be found either on top of a coral head or in a slot between two outcroppings or underneath plate coral, where are all around the Whitsundays.

It is also know for cleaner fish to go on "house calls" to fish who are territorial and will not leave there home to go to a cleaning station.

The best known cleaner fish in the Whitsundays are the cleaner wrasses, which are found on coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. These cleaner wrasse maintain the cleaning stations where their hosts will gather to be cleaned. Cleaner wrasses appear to get almost all their nutrition through this cleaning service, and when maintained in aquaria rarely survive for long because they cannot find enough to eat.