Male fish punish females for misbehaving during meal times

January 8th, 2010 - 4:19 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 8 (ANI): Researchers from the Zoological Society of London, University of Queensland and the University of Neuchatel have discovered that males of a certain fish species will punish females when they misbehave while eating.

They discovered that male cleaner wrasse are quick to play the hero when their dinner is at stake.

Cleaner wrasse live on coral reefs and feed on the parasites of larger ‘client’ fish.

They gain an even bigger meal if they take some of the mucus off the skin of a client, but this cheating behaviour results in a disgruntled customer.

The ‘Alan Sugars’ of the fish world, male cleaner wrasse prove they’re no small fry when it comes to punishing their employees for upsetting clients.

Males will aggressively chase females who deliver poor customer service, seemingly protecting the interests of the client when in fact they’ve got their own stomachs in mind.

“Clients will leave if they are cheated at a cleaning station. That means the male’s dinner leaves if the female cheats. By punishing cheating females, the males are not really sticking up for the clients but are making sure that they get a decent meal,” said lead author Dr Nichola Raihani from the Zoological Society of London.

This tendency to stick up for a victim is something that humans are particularly prone to, but no one really knows why we do it.

This study raises the possibility that ‘Robin Hood’ type behaviour might be less charitable than we think.

The study has been published this week in Science. (ANI)

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