Lubricated fish lips help wrasses vacuum coral goodies—6 June 2017

Researchers have discovered that a fish species has evolved highly specialised self-lubricating lips to help them feed from razor-sharp corals.

Professor David Bellwood, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said that out of the 6,000 reef fish species, only 128 feed on coral. Tubelip wrasses have modified their mouths the most to meet this dietary challenge.

“Their lips have a specialised feature that secretes mucus. This may help the wrasse to reduce damage from the sharp coral and from the stinging nematocysts,” said Professor Bellwood.

This feeding behaviour appears to be so effective that coral mucus may be the primary food source for tubelip wrasses.

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Image: reef0484, The Coral Kingdom Collection.
Image courtesy: NOAA/Linda Wade.

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, June 6, 2017