Clingfishes meet Seadragons

This terrific observation was made by Andrew Trevor-Jones Thank you Andrew!
The images show an Eastern Cleaner Clingfish, Cochleoceps orientalis on the side of a Common Seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus. The observation was made in January 2018 at 'The Leap', Kurnell, Sydney. Andrew has dived at this location more than 250 times over the last 7 years.
He stated, "I have seen cleaner clingfish on common seadragons and pot-bellied seahorses a few times. I often don’t see them until looking at the photos but in this case I did see it and moved in for closer shots - as close as the seadragon would let me." View more of Andrew's images of Clingfishes on Common Seadragons and Seahorses.
The stomach contents of the Eastern Cleaner Clingfish have not been analysed but judging by its behaviour, the contents should be similar to those of the Western Cleaner Clingfish, Cochleoceps bicolor. This species feeds mostly on small crustaceans (predominantly isopods) which it presumably picks off the fish it 'cleans'. Other bits and pieces on the host's skin as well as mucous may also be consumed.
I consulted clingfish expert Dr Kevin Conway about another one of Andrew's observations which shows a different species of clingfish on a seahorse. Kevin stated that based on the shape of the snout, the fish is not an Eastern Cleaner Clingfish. The colour pattern would suggest that it may be a Pink Clingfish, Aspasmogaster costata. Kevin reported that there are several other species of clingfishes that have also been reported to clean larger fishes, including species in the genera Lepadogaster and Diplecogaster.
The Common Seadragon is endemic to Australian temperate marine waters. It occurs from the central New South Wales coast around the south coast of Australia to south-western Western Australia. The Eastern Cleaner Clingfish occurs in most shallow New South Wales marine waters. It is known from Seal Rocks, New South Wales to Mallacoota, Victoria.
Posted by markmcg markmcg, February 07, 2018 03:28


Terrific! Thanks for sharing : )

Posted by davidr over 4 years ago (Flag)

Thank you @davidr. We enjoy sharing :)

Posted by markmcg over 4 years ago (Flag)
Posted by henrick over 4 years ago (Flag)

Nice obs! Super interesting write up too!

Posted by lachlan_fetterplace over 4 years ago (Flag)

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