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138. A pair of Sunburst Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) perform some occasional cleaning at a cleaning station


A Pink Whipray (Pateobatis fai previously known as Himantura fai) lies on a sandy bottom where it is getting a rapid clean by several Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) and a couple of Sunburst Butterflyfish. Although the Sunburst Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) aka Blacklip Butterflyfish aren’t considered cleaners, they use the presented opportunity to get their share of the rich pickings.

The Sunburst Butterflyfish is a not-so-picky feeder with an appetite for tube worms, his favourite food. However, these butterflyfish have been observed raiding nests of other fish and devouring nearly all the eggs. Besides their normal feeding habits they do sometimes act as cleaners. They are what is called “occasional cleaners”. Many species of butterflyfish and the juveniles of angelfish are considered to be occasional cleaners. Occasional cleaning is often more a form of opportunism rather than a typical feeding behaviour. Real cleaners like the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasses in this underwater short videoclip rely solely on client fish for their daily food intake.

When the occasion arrises and the pickings presented look good, the Sunburst Butterflyfish can pick up dead skin and small parasites from bigger fish species. Large fish like for example manta rays are often cleaned by occasional cleaners.

Sunburst Butterflyfish exhibit a form of dimorphism in the form of geographical variation. The colouration of Sunburst Butterflyfish can differ depending on their location. Specimen that live in the western part (western Indian Ocean) of their distribution range tend to have a single white bar, while individuals that occur in the eastern territories (Polynesia and the Galapagos) are dressed with two white bars.


To avoid spooking the subject with my camera lights, I turned them off and increased the ISO, resulting in quite a noisy image. I used an orange filter to filter out the blue. Orange filters filter out the blue and greens in your footage. By doing so they enhance the warm colours of the underwater realm and make colours of the scenery more vibrant and richer. Orange filters are best used where video lights are not really useful such as in wide angle shots. It is advised not to use the orange filter in water shallower than 5m/15ft or in combination with underwater video lights.

When using orange filters under water it is necessary to perform a white balance each time you change depth or when the light conditions change (sun disappearance behind clouds or sun reemerging). It is always possible to correct colours in post production but if the colours are right from the beginning the editing will be easier with only minor corrections needed.

The noise was easily removed in post-processing by applying a noise reducing generator. Fine-tuning the colours and adding a bit of contrast resulted in a satisfying shot.

More on this topic:

For a more in-depth description about Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse cleaning a Pink Whipray and Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse cleaning behaviour please go to our vlog post 178 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/bluestreak-cleaner-wrasses-labroides-dimidiatys-on-a-pink-whipray-himantura-fai

For a more in-depth description about the Pink Whipray please go to our vlog post 176 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/a-pink-whipray-himantura-fai-swims-over-the-wreck-of-the-tug-ii

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