Okay, so the title is stretching things a bit, but it’s not entirely inaccurate and we decided to share it for a little Friday fun. Have you ever stuck your hand into a saltwater aquarium only to find yourself crawling with cleaner shrimp? They start at the fingers, paying extra attention to the cuticles and under the fingernails, then slowly work their way up the hand and past the wrist. These shrimp are very bold to say the least, but in the wild they are accepted as a valuable tool for any fish, be it predator or algae grazer. The often parasite infested fish swim up to a rocky outcrop, open their mouths and present their fins, and the shrimp come out of the wood work like the crew at a full service car wash. The fish will let the shrimp nibble dead flesh and parasites from every part of their bodies, including the insides of their mouths. The shrimp remain uneaten and are allowed to perform their duties because the fish sees the value in staying clean and parasite-free. After all, infections and infestations can quickly get out of hand int the wild, usually leading to a fish’s death.
This photo is of a pair of Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) cleaning the hand of a local aquarium hobbyist while she attempted to clean their tank. We wanted to thank Cathy of Super Pet World for sharing the photo with us.