True Facts: Fish That Suck

True Facts: Fish That Suck

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Thanks to:
Dr Peter Wainwright, UC Davis
Dr Brooke Flammang, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Dr Udo Savalli, Arizona State University
Dr Jamie Seymour, James Cook University
Dr Shinji Sugiura, Kobe University
& all the scientists who have made their research Open Access.

Josh Blank,

Save Our Seas,

Enrique Martínez, Manta Scuba
Instagram: @manta_scuba

The Wainwright Lab,


Chiale MC, et al. Biochemical and morphological features of the uropygial gland of the Chilean Flamingo and their functional implications. Zoology (Jena). 2021 Aug;147:125941. doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2021.125941.

Flammang BE, et al. Remoras pick where they stick on blue whales. J Exp Biol. 2020 Oct 28;223(Pt 20):jeb226654. doi: 10.1242/jeb.226654.

Flammang, B.E., Kenaley, C.P. Remora cranial vein morphology and its functional implications for attachment. Sci Rep 7, 5914 (2017).

Fontes J, et al. Hitchhiking to the abyss. Ecol Evol. 2023 May 28;13(5):e10126. doi: 10.1002/ece3.10126.

Fraser GJ, et al. An ancient gene network is co-opted for teeth on old and new jaws. PLoS Biol. 2009 Feb 10;7(2):e31. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000031.

Gavelis GS, et al. Microbial arms race: Ballistic “nematocysts” in dinoflagellates represent a new extreme in organelle complexity. Sci Adv. 2017 Mar 31;3(3):e1602552. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602552.

Gibb, Alice C. Et al. The Teleost Intramandibular Joint: A mechanism That Allows Fish to Obtain Prey Unavailable to Suction Feeders, Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 55, Issue 1, July 2015, Pages 85–96,

Hsieh ST. A locomotor innovation enables water-land transition in a marine fish. PLoS One. 2010 Jun 18;5(6):e11197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011197.

Huertas V, Bellwood DR. Mucus-secreting lips offer protection to suction-feeding corallivorous fishes. Curr Biol. 2017 Jun 5;27(11):R406-R407. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.056.

Kutschera, U., Elliott, J.M. Do mudskippers and lungfishes elucidate the early evolution of four-limbed vertebrates?. Evo Edu Outreach 6, 8 (2013).

Martínez-Renau, et al. Coloration of spotless starling nestlings shows genetic and environmentally determined characteristics while begging for food. Funct Ecol. 2021; 35: 499–510.

Mehta RS, Wainwright PC. Raptorial jaws in the throat help moray eels swallow large prey. Nature. 2007 Sep 6;449(7158):79-82. doi: 10.1038/nature06062.

Soler JJ, et al. Made-up mouths with preen oil reveal genetic and phenotypic conditions of starling nestlings. Behav Ecol. 2022 Apr 4;33(3):494-503. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arac024.

Sugiura, Shinji. Active escape of prey from predator vent via the digestive tract, Current Biology, Volume 30, Issue 15, 2020, Pages R867-R868, ISSN 0960-9822,

Silva-Jr, José Martins & Ivan Sazima. Whalesuckers on spinner dolphins: an underwater view, Marine Biodiversity Records, December 2007. DOI:10.1017/S1755267206002016

Solleliet-Ferreira, S., Macena, B., Laglbauer, B. et al. Sicklefin devilray and common remora prey jointly on baitfish. Environ Biol Fish 103, 993–1000 (2020).

van Overveld T, de la Riva M, Donázar JA. Cosmetic coloration in Egyptian vultures: Mud bathing as a tool for social communication? Ecology. 2017 Aug;98(8):2216-2218. doi: 10.1002/ecy.1840.

Weihs, Daniel, Frank E. Fish, and Anthony J. Nicastro. MECHANICS OF REMORA REMOVAL BY DOLPHIN SPINNING, MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, 23(3): 707–714 (July 2007), DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2007.00131.x.

Weller HI, et al. An XROMM Study of Food Transport and Swallowing in Channel Catfish. Integr Org Biol. 2020 Jun 19;2(1):obaa018. doi: 10.1093/iob/obaa018.

Wang, Siqi, et al. Detachment of the remora suckerfish disc: kinematics and a bio-inspired robotic model, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Volume 15, Number 5, 2020, DOI 10.1088/1748-3190/ab9418.

Westneat MW, Wainwright PC. Feeding mechanism of Epibulus insidiator (Labridae; Teleostei): Evolution of a novel functional system. J Morphol. 1989 Nov;202(2):129-150. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1052020202.

WINGFIELD, J.C., et al. (2000), Biology of a critically endangered species, the Toki (Japanese Crested Ibis) Nipponia nippon. Ibis, 142: 1-11.

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54 Responses

  1. Ze Frank says:

    Go to and get 25% off when you sign up! Use CODE: zefrank

    • I hate this place says:

      Fun fact: Remoras will actually eat the feces of the fish the are riding. They wait till it poops and swarm it, then go back to riding it until dinner.

    • alan storm says:

      You always make me laugh. You’re hilarious Frank thanks

    • Zach Johnson says:

      Normally I really hate it when YouTubers interrupt their videos out of the blue to mention their sponsors instead of just doing it at the beginning or end. I make an exception for Zefrank, because even though it’s still stupid and annoying, the jokes he puts in them promotion makes up for it compared to other YouTubers

    • ScriptKeeper says:

      Love your videos!!!! It’s always a good day when a new ZeFrank video drops!!!!

      Ideas for future True Facts episodes: Peacocks, Wolves and canine pals, Mustelidae family ( ferrets, weasels, otters) , pinnipeds (sea lions, seals), eagles, sugar gliders, flying squirrels

    • Meemur the Lemur says:

      Zefrank is one of the very few Youtubers I will actually watch the sponsorships for.

  2. Emmison Mike says:

    This is the weird stuff you get into when you decide not to evolve into land animals.

  3. aku says:

    Jerry was oddly tame this time. Frank, what did you do to him?

  4. PoyntFury says:

    Imagine you’re just vibing in the ocean and a living vacuum just comes by and hoovers you up 💀

  5. Katie Toole says:

    I saw the beetle who crawled out the frog somewhere else this week, too. He’s quite popular with the science hippies this week.

  6. Dolphin Expert says:

    “This is because most fish suck. They also use suction to feed!”

    Took me a good 5 second to laugh

  7. FreeHomeBrew says:

    Additional fun fact: birds often see colors different to how we see them, sometimes off our spectrum entirely. So the “yellow lipstick” at the end probably appears a great deal different/more vibrant to birds than it does to us.

  8. HylaHerping says:

    That Cormorant pulling a Ramora off a Whale shark has to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

    • Yvette Worrall says:

      Have always had a fascination for cormorants (since reading The Story of Ping about captive cormorants being used to fish on the Yangtze River). They just got a whole lot more fascinatinger!

    • suzi q says:

      @Yvette Worrall, Cormorants were also featured in The Island of the Blue Dolphin, a book (novel) I read as a teen.

    • Emily Smirle says:

      @suzi q Oh my goodness both of those are blasts from the past!

    • suzi q says:

      @Emily Smirle , Do you recommend The Story of Ping? I haven’t read it. I read the other one several times. I think it’s based on San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Ventura. People can’t go there. It’s a military property/air base.

    • Abby Wilson says:

      I know, bros got some breath control huh

  9. Dan_Ganing_Fan says:

    Who knew sucking at something was such a valuable skill? And remoras take “stage 5 clinger” to a whole new level. Also, don’t get me started on that beetle. Talk about a fantastic voyage.

  10. Max Caulfield says:

    When the jaws open wide and there’s more jaws inside, that’s a moray!

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