Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus)

Here's a shot of a Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse. This particular colorful little fish is endemic to Hawaii, not found in other parts of the world. Other species of cleaner wrasses can be found throughout the tropical Indo/Pacific, I'm not sure about the Red Sea but I suspect there's a similar species there. They are not found in the Caribbean, although there is a neon goby with similar markings and feeding habits.

Cleaner wrasses perform a valuable service to the reef community. Their diet consists primarily of parasites. Fish will solicit a "cleaning" from the wrasse, and the wrasse will work the fish over, removing anything that shouldn't belong there. You'll see even larger predator fish such as eels and groupers willingly let the cleaner wrasses enter their mouths and gills to pick at parasites.

I first learned about these guys back in my aquarium days... they're poor aquarium inhabitants. Their diet is primarily parasites and they typically starve to death in aquariums. This is a fish definitely best left on the reef.

I snapped this one on the spur of the moment as a damsel was begging for a cleaning. The new Olympus Pen was able to lock focus (well, close anyway) in a flash. I haven't been able to get a shot of these guys within several feet in the past as they dart practically every split second when you get close. I'm hoping some afternoon when I have time to really focus on getting a crisp clear shot of these.

Water temp is still hovering in that 78 degree range. We were hoping for a little higher by now, but apparently there's talk of a la Nina current coming in this year that'll keep things cooler.

Busy week this next week, day charters and a couple of night charters. We had 15 mantas on the night charter last week, heard it was around 20 last night... the manta dive is really hot right now. Things are starting to slow down, tail end of the summer tourist season... it's been a madhouse the last 3-4 weeks on that dive.




scubadivingmalta said...

There are a number of nice wrasses you can see in our seas also. Some local wrasses are called: tirda, ruzetta, merli, ruzetta, gharusa, etc.

Amila Kanchana said...

Coral reefs host the most beautiful creatures,don't they?

Bob Halem said...

How did you get him to stay still? I have several pictures of blurry blue and yellow fish. They seem to always be darting around.

Steve said...

You're gonna hate my answer. It was the first time I had the camera underwater... put it on underwater macro setting on "P". Saw the wrasse, held the camera out with one hand... while swimming past... hit the shutter button three times while pointing the camera at the wrasse... bingo! I've got three shots of the wrasse, this one is closest to in focus. The Oly Pen focuses surprisingly fast compared to any point and shoot camera I've ever owned. Feels almost immediate in comparison to my old Canon G9 did.

The underwater macro setting automatically puts it at about 1/125th of a second and max aperature. I think if I was planning to go after cleaner wrasses specifically I might bump the speed up a bit. 1/125th seems to work with most fish.