A barred rubberlips at Pinnacles

Cleaning stations in Sodwana

A barred rubberlips at Pinnacles
A barred rubberlips at Pinnacles

A barred rubberlip (also known as a red-lined sweetlip, Plectorhinchus plagiodesmus) at a cleaning station on the reef at Pinnacles on Two Mile reef in Sodwana. It was a surgy day, but if you look closely you can see the bluestreak cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus), with grey, black and blue stripes, swimming in and around the rubberlip’s gills. The rubberlip opens his gill slits so that the wrasses can eat parasites and remove excess mucous, maintaining good health for the fish.


We also saw this yellowfin surgeonfish (Acanthurus xanthopterus) at a different cleaning station, on Seven Mile Reef, also being serviced by bluestreak cleaner wrasses. These fish are usually blue-grey or even brownish, but at cleaning stations they often change colour to a light blue-grey (as this fish has).


Here’s a busier cleaning station, on another dive at Pinnacles. There are two yellowfin surgeonfish, one of whom seems to get a bit cranky with the cleaner wrasses at the end of the video, as well as a crescent tail bigeye (Priacanthus hamrur) at the beginning. The spotted unicornfish (Naso brevirostris) should be easy to spot; their colouration here is much darker than in my fish ID book.


The Reef Guide is a good place to learn more about, and identify, the fish you see on dives off South Africa’s south and east coasts.

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Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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