What kind of upsidedown fish wants to eat my skin?
September 28, 2012 3:35 PM   Subscribe

What was this weird up-side-down swimming fish in miami? Possibly a 'cleaner fish'?

Unfortunately I do not have a picture, but this fish's behavior was so specific I figure someone may know it just based on that, although the internet has failed me so far.

I saw this fish when I was snorkeling around key biscayne in shallow water. This fish was about 4 or 5 inches long, tip to tail. It was approximately an inch wide, not including the fins. It's body was pretty even, from the head to the tail almost equally wide, with short little fluttering fins near it's head. Sorry I don't know fishes, so I'm not sure what is helpful or how to really describe this!

It appeared to exclusively swim upside down. The side facing up(which looked like the bottom) appeared flat and silverish with the mouth visible. I couldn't see the other side much, but it appeared to be black and maybe had a light stripe.

This fish either wanted to eat my dead skin-- or I don't know what!

At first I was curious, but then as the fish behaved more aggressively in it's pursuit. It kinda freaked me out, even though it's so little. So I started swimming very fast thinking I could just lose the little guy. I would sort of sprint away, then after some distance stop and think- whew it's gone, then suddenly it would appear alongside my ribcage, as though it had been swimming with me on my back or something. I did this a few times, to no avail, finally i just went to shore. Once I was about to exit the water, there the fish was just kind of hanging around my ankles, waiting for me. This is a very persistent fish!

I have never seen a fish behave like this, is this some kind of 'cleaner' fish? If it's impossible to identify from my terrible description, please point me to any relevant resources!
posted by abirdinthehand to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
A small remora, maybe? Take a look at the picture halfway down the page.
posted by Gneisskate at 3:43 PM on September 28, 2012

In the freshwater tropical fish aquarium-keeping hobby there is the Upside-down Catfish.

Unlikely to have been the fish you saw; but presenting it here on the chance that reading about other upside-down fish helps your research.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 4:21 PM on September 28, 2012

I'm not sure if there's such a thing as a saltwater plecostomus, but that's what this sounds kind of like.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:09 PM on September 28, 2012

I think it was some kind of Remora! I can't seem to match up what is in miami that I would have seen though. Next time I'm going to try to net it and get a better look!
posted by abirdinthehand at 5:06 AM on September 29, 2012

Just to update- I believe it was this species
posted by abirdinthehand at 5:28 AM on September 29, 2012

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