Healing hands of cleaner shrimps
In the first scientific study of its kind, scientists have proved in laboratory conditions that Cleaner shrimp help speed the healing process in injured fish.
The researchers studied the behaviour and interactions of Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) and Lyre-tail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis) to see whether or not the shrimps’ cleaning behaviour improved healing, and also to see whether the shrimp ‘cheat’ and feed on their hosts’ mucus or aggravate the injury further.
Using high definition cameras, the team observed the interactions of shrimp with 126 injured fish. They noted that for the first 24 hours the fish regulated the amount of cleaning to the injured area. This corresponds with previous evidence that this early period is vital for a process called ‘re-epithelialisation’, whereby the open wound is covered rapidly by a layer of cells. After this time, the fish allowed the shrimp to clean where it liked, and the shrimps’ actions helped reduce inflammation and redness, which is thought to help prevent infection by secondary pathogens like viruses and bacteria. It’s hoped the shrimp may be able to be employed as a green alternative to chemical treatments for cleaning wounds and removing parasites on farmed fish.