Phuket’s Underwater Health Spa’s

Phuket’s Underwater Health Spa’s

A Great Place To Observe Natural Behaviour When Diving In Phuket

Every Phuket diving site has one of these blissful little places where the food chain is put on hold for a little while and everybody just gets along, a Utopia under the waves. Most divers will swim over them completely unaware that it’s the best place on the reef to witness natural behaviour, species interaction, some killer dance moves and even marital disputes.

Why Do Fish Need Cleaning?

You’d think spending your whole life swimming around in water would negate the necessity for a spruce up but without hands then cleaning your teeth, cleaning wounds, removing parasites or simply exfoliating are all a bit of a challenge to say the least. This is where the legion of little helpers come in. It’s a competitive world down there and everything needs to be in perfect working order to survive.

As well as the daily wear and tear from constantly dodging teeth, poisons and flailing divers. When a fish tucks itself into a crevice for the night it picks up annoying little hangers on called ectoparasites (think bed bugs that don’t let go), they usually congregate around the gills and fins where the blood is easier to access. This is where you’ll see the most vigorous attention and very often the spa customers will flair their fins and gill covers to allow easy passage. For this reason early mornings are the best time to visit the stations but there’s usually activity throughout the day.

The Cleaners

The most obvious and a fish that everyone has seen is the bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus). They flash their distinctive stripe pattern (blue streaks if you’re wondering…) in an eye catching dance routine above the cleaning station that lets all the reef fish know that they’re open for business. These industrious little fish can eat more than one thousand ectoparasites in one day as well as dead skin and rotten flesh around wounds.

Adult And Juvenile Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

Adult And Juvenile Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

The blue streak team comprises of either and adult pair, a bunch of unruly youngsters or a group of females with a dominant male. The difference between adults and juveniles can be seen in the picture above. In the adult groups the male runs the show and has been seen to chastise the females if they nip a sensitive area and scare off the client, some fish have their favourite cleaning stations and have been known not to return if they receive poor service. The customer is always right…

Pacific cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) are another one of the common therapists we see in Phuket. They also have a display dance and their long white antenna can often be seen waving around outside their holes letting any passing fish know that space is available.

pacific cleaner shrimp phuket

pacific cleaner shrimp phuket

Amnesty From Predators

The cleaners are left alone by most predators (except frogfish, frogfish don’t follow rules) and predator and prey often mix at the stations. Sometimes an orderly queue can be observed, it’s quite possible that a gaping wound on the side of a fusilier was caused by the sheepish looking barracuda who’s next in line. Some fish are a bit greedy though and moray eels will often sit in the same cleaning station for hours.

So confident are the wrasse and shrimp that even divers can be treated to a little attention. The wrasse will often nip at any wounds a diver may have and they also have an annoying habit of going in your ears, possibly thinking it’s our gill openings. If you put your fingers near cleaner shrimp they’ll jump on and start picking away at the dead skin around your nails.

Next time you go diving in Phuket, spend a minute or so hanging around a cleaning station and you’ll see a lot of activity and many of the interactions mentioned above.

Contact Us Now

By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my experience and passion on this blog.

Posted in Rare & Peculiar Critters on .

Popular Services

huge schools of fish on the king cruiser wreck in phuket

The King Cruiser Wreck Dive

The King Cruiser Wreck's unplanned underwater life began in May 1997. The adventurous captain of the King Cruiser car ferry strayed miles off course on his way to Phi Phi from Phuket. With an incredible feat of marine navigation he 'found' the only submerged reef for miles around. Unfortunately the intrepid captain's wanderlust resulted in a large hole in the ferry and the inevitable consequences. So was created Phuket's first wreck dive. For [...]

Find Out More
Similan Island Dive Site Three Trees

Three Trees AKA Breakfast Bend

Three trees is one of the longest dive sites in the Similan Islands National Park. There's not many that allow for a decent drift dive. This gently sloping reef is perfect for all levels of divers. Beginners can stick to the reef in the shallows and the more experienced divers can explore the colourful bommies at depth. The dive site comprises of three main sections. Breakfast Bend in the south, Three Trees in the middle and the if the c [...]

Find Out More

Daily Schedules

M/V Kepsub Schedule

Jobs @ Local Dive Thailand

Local Dive Thailand is one of Phuket's fatest growing & most vibrant scuba diving operations, we are always looking for quality staff to join us, so feel free to have a look at our jobs listing page.

Job Listings

Contact LDT

Local Guides, Local Knowledge, Local Experiences

Don't trust your diving to amateurs or freshly minted dive guides, dive with local experienced experts from Local Dive Thailand. Our Scuba Diving Phuket Tours will take you to see the rarest of the rare critters, you will be amazed by the macro life our guides can find, in the secret places only they know. To put it in perspective, if you were going to climb Mount Everest you would certainly hire a local sherpa to lead the way & keep you safe. Diving is similar because there is absolutely no substitute for local experience & local knowledge, Local Dive Thailand's guides are Phuket's Sherpa's of the Andaman Sea!

Learn More About Us

Scuba Diving Phuket, Phi Phi & Thailand

When talking about Scuba Diving in Phuket, you should believe the hype, many seasons we have had Whale Sharks grace us on our regular and easy to reach dive sites and on a good day you can add Sea Horses, Sea Moths, Snake Eels, Frog Fish & Octopus to what you can see on any given dive and so much more. If we are heading to Phi Phi Island for the day, you can possibly see Hawksbill Sea Turtles and Black Tip Reef Sharks, also don't forget the King Cruiser, 84 meters of beautiful wreck and the most amazing reef nursery for fish and nudibranch. Local Dive Thailand day trip tours to these locations are not to be missed when you are scuba diving Phuket, get in touch with us and book an 'awesome' day of diving.

Book Your Day Trip

Related News From Local Dive Thailand

See why we are Thailand's leading scuba diving Phuket tour provider, stay up to date & watch out for news & special liveaboard offers!

avoiding seasickness Scuba Diving Health

How Do I Avoid Seasickness?

Fortunately throughout the Phuket diving high season we're blessed with generally flat seas. Around the beginning of May we start to get a swell come in from the open ocean. Although for most this has little impact on your dive day, for those who get seasick it can be horrible but there are ways to avoid it. Not going to go too far into the science but essentially your brain is being confused. With intentional movement (walking, runnin [...]

Read Full Story
Seahorse-On-A-Phuket-Diving-Site The Archives

Thailand Suspends Export of Seahorses

CITES has announced the Thai governments decision to suspend the export of seahorses after not being able to meet the CITES obligations for the trade in seahorses, Thailand decided to stop issuing export permits earlier this year in lieu of obtaining a sustainable solution and protecting the wild population. It's a welcome move and hopefully a chance for one of diving's most loved animals to increase in numbers. Thailand is the worlds largest [...]

Read Full Story
Diving Discounts & Special Offers

Permanent discounts

If you're planning to join us for a number of days then take advantage of our multiple trip discounts: 3+ Days Diving: 10% Discount 5+ Days Diving: 15% Discount Working in the dive industry creates a fabulous lifestyle but it's not going to make you rich.... Professionals from any dive organisation receive a 15% discount on all day trips regardless of how many days you dive. Thanks for coming back! Loyalty should be rewa [...]

Read Full Story

Local Dive Thailand Office In Phuket


Find Us On Google Maps