Fish mucus versus parasitic gnathiid isopods as sources of energy and sunscreens for a cleaner fish

Eckes, Maxi, Dove, Sophie, Siebeck, Ulrike E. and Grutter, Alexandra S. (2015) Fish mucus versus parasitic gnathiid isopods as sources of energy and sunscreens for a cleaner fish. Coral Reefs, 34 3: 823-833. doi:10.1007/s00338-015-1313-z

Author Eckes, Maxi
Dove, Sophie
Siebeck, Ulrike E.
Grutter, Alexandra S.
Title Fish mucus versus parasitic gnathiid isopods as sources of energy and sunscreens for a cleaner fish
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
Publication date 2015-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-015-1313-z
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 34
Issue 3
Start page 823
End page 833
Total pages 11
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The cleaning behaviour of the bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus is extensively used as a model system for understanding cooperation. It feeds mainly on blood-sucking gnathiid isopods and also on the epidermal mucus of client fish; the nutritional quality of these foods, however, is unknown. The epidermal mucus of reef fish contains ultraviolet (UV)-absorbing compounds (mycosporine-like amino acids, MAAs), which are only obtained via the diet; nevertheless, while La. dimidiatus has high amounts of MAAs in its mucus, their source is unknown. Therefore, the energetic value (calories and protein estimated using carbon and nitrogen) and MAA level in gnathiids and mucus from several clients [parrotfishes, wrasses (Labridae), and a snapper (Lutjanidae)] were determined. The energetic value of mucus and gnathiids varied among fishes. Overall, carbon, nitrogen, calories, and protein per dry weight were higher in the mucus of most client species compared to gnathiids. Thus, depending on the client species, mucus may be energetically more advantageous for cleaner wrasse to feed on than gnathiids. UV absorbance, a confirmed proxy for MAA levels, indicated high MAA levels in mucus, whereas gnathiids had no detectable MAAs. This suggests that La. dimidiatus obtain MAAs from mucus but not from gnathiids. Hence, in addition to energy, the mucus of some clients also provides La. dimidiatus with the added bonus of UV-absorbing compounds. This may explain why cleaner fish prefer to feed on mucus over gnathiid isopods. The likely costs and benefits to clients of the removal of UV protecting mucus and parasitic gnathiids, respectively, and the variation in benefits gained by cleaner fish from feeding on these foods may explain some variation in cooperation levels in cleaning interactions.
Keyword Calories
Cleaning behaviour
Fish mucus
Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA)
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Global Change Institute Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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