Toadies w [email protected]
These are Smooth Toadfish,the commonest toadfish species in most of the shallow inshore parts of South Australia,especially in Gulf St Vincent.From late summer through to about mid autumn waders and swimmers at most popular beaches near Adelaide are likely to notice numerous adults and juveniles swimming near the sandy bottom in the clear sunlit water but unlike many larger toadfish and puffer fish species,particularly those favoring tropical and subtropical oceans,smooth toadies rarely bite or nip humans’ submerged parts.
Occasionally the juveniles can be so prolific that a person standing in ankle deep water on a calm beach may be able to see a dozen or more,often only a few centimeters long,within a radius of just a few meters.
Like all puffers and toadies Smooth Toadies should never be eaten,nor handled as the tetrodotoxin that they concentrate in varying amounts from down the food chain can be present in the surface skin.
Pet dogs that have mouthed dead beach washed toadies often need urgent vetinary care.
SA does nevertheless have records of occasional seasonal vagrant sightings of several of the larger and more
…(continued)…bite inclined puffer species from bite inclined puffer species from our continent’s warm temperate and subtropical east and west coasts,as well as a few perennially residential largish species capable of removing a finger tip,so we should treat all puffers and toadies with respect.Irrespective of their sizes but the bigger they are the more risk of tissue loss from a bite.
(separate from the universal rule of not risking exposure to the toxin via handling or ingestion)
I recently took photos that finally prove my long held belief that the rock pool shrimp on the left in this image,which are also known as red-banded shrimp (Palaemon serenus ) are facultative cleaners of at least two very common inshore rock reef fish species in particular the smooth toadies (also present in this older image which of course does not suggest cleaning behavior to any meaningful degree).Zebra fish being the other proven species but I have other images strongly suggesting but not proving a host client relationship between this exceedingly common local intertidal and shallow sub tidal shrimp and yellow eye mullet,jumping blenny,sweep,and even Allison’s blue devil.
There were at least 30 smooth toadfish in the one medium size rock pool with limited connection to the open sea via a narrow channel,and they were all desperately queuing (along with a few zebra fish) for cleaning by the in this case seemingly outnumbered rock pool shrimps.
Some images show a shrimp picking food off toadies heads and bodies with the shrimp actually crawling all over the toadies which displayed overt client posturing..A consequence of this must be the assumption that the shrimp are in some way immune to or tolerant of the tetrodotoxin usually present in their skin.
However doubt persists in this matter because it is possible that the toadies only get cleaned at times of very low tissue saturation with the toxin,which is known to varie considerably due factors such as age,diet,season,location.
But looking at the bigger picture,it seems probable that the great majority perhaps all fish species require cleaning IE parasite removal and /or removal of skin debris,so puffer fish would be likely to need cleaning just like most other fish,and my images which prove this is done by rock pool shrimp of course do not exclude other cleaner hosts from also getting involved at times,e.g. there are also a few western cleaner cling fish in the same pools.These are known to clean a great variety of other reef fish species including zebbies,dusky morwong,magpie perches,harlequin fish,southern blue devil and many others.
Closely observed a dusky morwong parked at an obvious cleaning station under the Noarlunga jetty just inside the platform reef in six to seven meters depth on a Marine life society of south Australia dive last Saturday and though I expected the cleaner would be a western cleaner clingfish,there were none present and that cleaner host species is almost always readily visible in such cases,so even if it or they are cleaning the other side of the client initially,after a short time they usually come into view for the patient diver,sometimes even abandoning their client and swimming directly towards you in the mistaken belief that you are a very large queue jumper client and thus likely to be a food bonanza!
The other main reason they may not be visible at or near the station is if they are cleaning another client first while the next client (in this case it would have been the morwong) is queuing.
Further to above comment:
But then after about five minutes I finally saw the cleaner at work and it was (actually there were probably several but I could only be certain of one) a rock pool shrimp Paleamon serenus,aka red-banded shrimp,and it was in full view (finally,because for the first few minutes it had been working out of sight on the other side of the clients body and caudal region and I’m able to be confident about this because the visibility was excellent plus I had been playing my strobes pilot light up and down the quite large client fish and would have noticed even a little shrimp readily,even if it was just resting on the station which was a flat sided low rock surrounded by silty sand)…it was now crawling over the clients caudal peduncle and moving along the upper dorsal body in full view towards the head.Annoyingly for me as soon as I started taking images of the host on the client,the client became nervous and departed the station so that I have only poorly illuminated and rather low quality image evidence of this episode.
But it left me in no doubt whatsoever that this shrimp species is a cleaner of dusky morwongs in addition to toadfish and zebbies(and therefore in all probability many other reef fish species)
Source: via David Muirhead on Oceandiscover