Myth and Reality: Candiru, the Bloodsucking Fish That May Enter Humans

Part of the Parasitology Research Monographs book series (Parasitology Res. Monogr., volume 5)


Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, when European natural scientists travelled in the regions of the river Amazonas and its tributaries to study the new amazing world of plants and animals, several reports are available on the existence of tiny fish, which allegedly enter the sexual organs and the anus of female and male humans. However, an exact check of the literature shows that only very few cases are seriously documented and that most reports come just from hearsay. Fact is that very tiny (i.e., young) specimens of the fish Vandellia cirrhosa with a size of less than 2–4 cm in length may enter the genital openings of naked humans while swimming in fresh waters. Such penetrations, however, are also known from tiny leeches.


Candirus Caneros Ectoparasitism Endoparasitism Vandellia cirrhosa Bloodsucking fish Vampire fish Body penetration Catfish 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for ParasitologyHeinrich Heine UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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