Candiru (candirú) (Spanish, also known as canero or toothpick fish) are parasitic freshwater catfish and a member of the Trichomycteridae family. They can be found in the Amazon River and to the people who live there, they are the most feared fish in its waters, even over the piranha. They are eel-shaped and translucent, making them very difficult to see in the water. Some species have been known to grow to a size of 6 inches (~15 cm) in length.
Parasitism and food[change | change source]
To hunt for its prey, the Candirú lies at the bottom of the river testing and sniffing the water for certain chemicals, such as urea and ammonia from the gills of other fish. Once they have found a fish nearby they rush with a burst of speed to the gill cavity and attaches itself with its spines. Then, it begins to gnaw a hole towards a major blood vessel and stuffs itself for no more than a few minutes, which usually causes the victim to die. It will then release itself and sink back to the river bed in order to digest its food and wait for its next meal.
Attacks on people[change | change source]
These smaller species are known for being thought to invade and make use of a person's urethra. Even with reports as old as the 1800s, the first written case of the removal of a candiru from a person did not occur until 1997, and even that incident is not believed by everyone. The idea that the fish are attracted by urine appears to be not right. The fish actually hunt by sight and do not like urine at all.
References[change | change source]
- Axelrod, Herbert R. et al 1996. Exotic tropical fishes. T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0-87666-543-1.
- Schaefer, Scott A. et al 2005. "New and noteworthy Venezuelan glanapterygine catfishes (Siluriformes, Trichomycteridae), with discussion of their biogeography and psammophily" (PDF). American Museum Novitates 496 (3496): 1–27. doi:10.1206/0003-0082(2005)496[0001:NANVGC]2.0.CO;2. http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/bitstream/2246/5665/1/N3496.pdf.
- de Carvalho, Marcelo R. 2003. "Analyse D’Ouvrage" (PDF). Cybium 27 (2): 82. http://www.mnhn.fr/sfi/cybium/numeros/pdf/272pdf/01.analysecarvalho.pdf.
- Spotte, Stephen et al 2001. "Experiments on the feeding behavior of the hematophagous Candiru". Environmental Biology of Fishes 60 (4): 459–464. doi:10.1023/A:1011081027565.