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Can the Amazon Candiru Fish Swim up Your Urethra?

Updated on July 9, 2014

The Candiru Fish, What Are They?

The Candiru is a very small but very feared catfish. Why would a fish smaller than my pinkie be so feared? Well rumor has it that they have a tendency to swim up a person's urethra when either swimming or urinating in a river. Is this true? Most experts say no, but the myths do still exist in the Amazon, which is where these freshwater catfish lurk. Let's take a closer look at these so-called intruders.


Candiru Catfish - What do They Look Like?

While I did say that these "toothpick fish" are smaller than my pinkie finger, some of them do grow much larger, depending on the species. The largest of the candiru species can grow as big as 14 inches, which would be much larger than anyone's finger, let alone the pinkie. However, most species are much smaller, and are much harder to spot.

As you can see in the photo to the right, these fish are very translucent, helping them to camouflage into the amazon river, which is where they are most likely to be found. They also have backward pointing barbels, which are most likely designed to make extraction painful when feeding on it's victim.


What Does it Eat?

These catfish are considered parasite, that is, they feed on other animals at the expense of their prey. The candiru hunt by stalking its victim, which is very easy for a tiny fish that's see-through to do without being seen. When the time is right and the fish breathes out, the candiru quickly slips into the open gill and expands it's barbels to latch itself in place. Within a split-second's time, the victim's demise is inevitable, because one it is candiru is has anchored itself in the fish's gill cavity, it becomes to painful to pull out.

In the meantime, while the fish is trashing around in excruciating pain, this little toothpick fish is happily quenching its thirst for blood by biting through a nearby artery and gulping down the "juice." Within two minutes time,when the candiru has a potbelly full of blood it dislodges itself from the prey and swims lazily down to the bottom for digestion.

It might seem to the fish that it has won the battle for survival, because the pain is suddenly gone. The truth is, a fish bitten by the candiru keeps on bleeding long after the predator has finished its gory meal, and there is not very much chance of the wound clotting fast enough for the fish to survive.


Do Candiru Fish Really Swim Up Your Urethra?

Now for the real question. Are the rumors true? Can these fish actually swim into your D--- and stay stuck in their. Most expert say no. Here's some of the reason

The rumor that these candiru can swim up your urine stream and lodge itself into your winky is ridiculous at best.It just defies the laws of physics. Candiru fish are small but not small enough that this would be remotely possible. AND, how does it know what's on the other side of that small waterfall? It might be an innocent decorative water fountain, the fish won't know.

What about when you're submerged so that the candiru doesn't have to somehow travel all that distance to your precious thingy. This really isn't that possible either. While a male urethra can certainly expand enough for a small fish to enter, a Candiru or any other fish would have to considerable force to do this, and tell me, why would a fish go through all that trouble? "It" isn't that pretty, sorry to pop your balloon.

So, don't act like the guy in the photo. Jump right in without a worry, nothing will eat your manlihood!


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    • ProjectResolute profile image

      ProjectResolute 3 years ago

      I may have to do that!

    • profile image

      Jennifer 3 years ago

      I take it you never saw the Candiru episode of River Monsters? It's on Netflix, you should watch it and come back and edit this