Classification / Names
Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa
Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Gobiidae
(Gobies) > Gobiinae
Etymology: Elacatinus: Greek, elakatines = fusiform fishes preserved in salt (Ref. 45335); phthirophagus: From the Greek phteir, phtheiros = louse, and phagein, phagos = to eat, an allusion to this goby feeding mostly on larval, parasitic gnathiid isopods it picks from its clients.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; benthopelagic; depth range 3 - 18 m (Ref. 79614). Tropical; 3°S - 4°S, 32°W - 33°W
Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri
Atlantic Ocean: Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, a volcanic formation off NE Brazil, tropical Southwestern Atlantic (Ref. 79614).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 3.2 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 79614); 2.5 cm SL (female)
Morphology | Morphometrics
soft rays: 11;
Vertebrae: 18. Elacatinus phthirophagus differs from its congeners of the putative “randalli-evelynae” cleaning clade (sensu Taylor & Hellberg 2005) by the following combination of characters: mouth subterminal, pale (bright yellow in life) elliptical spot on dark snout, width of lateral pale (bright yellow in life) stripe almost equal as eye diameter (slightly narrower in live individuals), light purplish sheen (in life) extending laterally from below eye to tail origin, no blue line (in life) from below eye to end of opercular margin, teeth
multiserial on the distal portion of both jaws, males with 3 enlarged and recurved teeth on dentary inner row (Ref. 79614).
Body naked, elongate and slightly laterally compressed. Mouth subterminal, U-shaped. Teeth conical and slightly curved on both jaws (Ref. 79614).
Color pattern: bright yellow postocular stripe extending to the middle of caudal-fin; bright
yellow elliptical spot on blackish snout (the latter less pigmented in small juveniles); upper portion of eye bright yellow and lower part black; black lateral stripe from lower half of eye’s posterior edge to the middle of caudal-fin and more or less coincident with lateral septum (fading towards the end of caudal-fin); black dorsal stripe from middle of interorbital space extending in a curve to the anterior third of caudal-fin (in some large specimens the anterior part of this stripe is divided by a paler, grayish stripe); lower jaw and belly whitish, the anterior third of belly with a light purplish sheen; cheek and lower part of operculum to preoperculum rosy with purplish sheen; dorsal, pectoral and anal-fins, and outer border of caudal-fin pale with scattered dark chromatophores; pelvic-fin pale with no or fewer scattered chromatophores (Ref. 79614).
Ubiquitous in the archipelago islets. It tends cleaning
stations on coral heads, sponges, and rocky substrata, with up to 15 individuals present in large stations, particularly
those on sponges. Elacatinus phthirophagus was recorded to clean about 30 species of fish clients, including large carnivores such as the shark Carcharhinus perezi and smaller carnivores such as the grouper Cephalopholis fulva, besides small clients like the planktivorous damselfish Chromis multilineata and the zoobenthivorous butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus (Ref. 79614).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Sazima, I., A. Carvalho-Filho and C. Sazima, 2008. A new cleaner species of Elacatinus(Actinopterygii: Gobiidae) from the Southwestern Atlantic. Zootaxa 1932:27-32. (Ref. 79614)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
CountriesFAO areasEcosystemsOccurrencesIntroductionsStocksEcologyDietFood itemsFood consumptionRation
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00891 (0.00418 - 0.01902), b=3.07 (2.89 - 3.25), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.4 ±0.3 se; Based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (10 of 100) .