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Western Cleaner Clingfish

Western Cleaner Clingfish

Cochleoceps bicolor

The western cleaner-clingfish is found on moderately exposed reef, 5 to 40 metres depth in southern Australian coastal waters from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria to Lancelin, Western Australia.

The body of the western cleaner clingfish is covered with numerous tightly packed red and purple dots that darken towards the tail and has 12-15 blue lines across the top and sides of the body. It can enlarge or reduce colour cells in its skin to match the background on which it is resting, often among sponges and ascidians. The pelvic fins are modified into a muscular suction disc allowing it to attach to many surfaces, including the bodies of other fish. The western cleaner clingfish sets up “cleaning stations” on a prominent surface where large fish, such as the harlequin fish, morwongs and boxfish can come to be cleaned of parasites (predominantly isopod crustaceans), mucous and dead tissue. This species grows to a maximum of 7 centimetres.

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:

The western cleaner clingfish is infrequently seen from the Underwater Observatory.