Cooperation on the Reef

Last night, while working on the third Shinobi Mystery, I glanced at the tank and noticed something I rarely seem to see with a camera handy: Red the fire shrimp cleaning Flappy the mandarin dragonet.

A couple of days ago, I snagged this photo of the process just before the aquarium lights came on:

13H28 Red cleaning Flappy

It’s rare to see a cleaning when I can film a video, because Red (like most fire shrimp) prefers to stick to the safety of his cave during “daylight hours” on the reef. Last night, however, everything aligned, so here’s your Tuesday aquatic treat – bath time, aquarium style:

Emo the Clownfish makes an appearance right at the end of the video, to remind Flappy that “if the cleaning’s over, it’s time to move along” because the premiere cleaning spot sits right on the edge of Emo’s territory. Cleaning is permitted. Loitering is not.

Have you ever seen a cleaner fish or cleaner shrimp in action? Does it surprise you that a fish will willingly let a shrimp pick over his skin so closely?