Cleaner shrimp

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A Pacific cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis, cleans the mouth of a moray eel.

Cleaner shrimp is a common name for a number of swimming decapod crustaceans that clean other organisms of parasites. They belong to any of three families, Hippolytidae (including the Pacific cleaner shrimp, Lysmata amboinensis), Palaemonidae (including the spotted Periclimenes magnificus) and Stenopodidae (including the banded coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus) .[1] The last of these families is more closely related to lobsters and crabs than it is to the remaining families. The term "cleaner shrimp" is sometimes used more specifically for the family Hippolytidae and the genus Lysmata.

Cleaner shrimp are so called as they exhibit a cleaning symbiosis with client fish where the shrimp clean parasites from the fish. They are often included in saltwater aquaria partly due to this relationship and their brightly colored appearance.[1]


Cleaner shrimp exhibit cleaning symbiosis: a relationship in which individuals from different species benefit from cleaning. The fish benefit by having parasites removed from them, and the shrimp gain the nutritional value of the parasites. In many coral reefs, cleaner shrimp congregate at cleaning stations. In this behaviour cleaner shrimps are similar to cleaner fish, and sometimes may join with cleaner wrasse and other cleaner fish attending to client fishes.

Shrimp of the genus Urocaridella are often cryptic or live in caves on the reef and are not associated commensally with other animals.[2] These shrimp assemble around cleaning stations where up to 25 shrimp live in proximity.[2] When a potential client fish swims close to a station with shrimp present, several shrimp perform a "rocking dance," a side-to-side movement, to attract the client. Frequency of rocking increases with hunger.[3] This increase in frequency suggests competition between hungry and sated shrimp.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

Jacques, a French-accented cleaner shrimp voiced by Joe Ranft, appears in the 2003 film Finding Nemo, helping keep the tank clean. He also appeared as an easter egg in the 2016 sequel Finding Dory near the end after the credits.


  1. ^ a b "Cleaner Shrimp". Wetwebmedia. Retrieved 2006-08-15. 
  2. ^ a b c Justine H. A. Becker, Lynda M. Curtis & Alexandra S. Grutter (2005). "Cleaner shrimp use a rocking dance to advertise cleaning service to clients". Current Biology. 15 (8): 760–764. PMID 15854910. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.02.067. 
  3. ^ J. H. Becker & A. S. Grutter (2004). "Cleaner shrimp do clean". Coral Reefs. 23 (4): 515–520. doi:10.1007/s00338-004-0429-3.