The feeding strategies of a facultative cleanerfish, Thalassoma bifasciatum (Pisces: Labridae)



The adult Bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum) is a facultative cleanerfish that can change its colouration into any one of three: patterns. These patterns correspond to several modes of feeding behaviour which, in turn, can be correlated with the movements of host fishes. The barred pattern occurred on individuals that are far ranging and also on those that formed unstable cleaning groups. These groups tended to form at locations having sharp drops in depth of several metres. Here these groups serviced large groups of host fishes. The striped pattern occurred on solitary individuals with a limited home range. They occurred in very shallow areas and serviced small groups of host fishes. The bright yellow pattern developed when a large food source was discovered and may be related to the attraction of conspecifics.