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The dreaded Candiru

lewis at hg.uleth.ca lewis at hg.uleth.ca
Sat Mar 11 18:10:13 EST 1995

The dreaded Candiru is a small South American catfish which has a 
reputation for swimming into the human urethra and getting stuck, 
perhaps only removable by surgery.  While there may be some folk 
myth to the critter, there also is some truth to its habits.  It is 
mentioned, but without references, in General Parasitology by Tom 
Cheng (1973).  Many books on fishes mention it in passing, but few 
cite useful references.  There was a general review  around 1967 in 
that esteemed journal, Carolina Notes, published by Carolina Biological
Supply, that seems to be the most detailed account around.

The genus name used to be Vandellia, but now is Trichomycterus, family 
Trichomycteridae.  The members of this genus (family?) are parasitic
(?) or commensal (?) in the gill chambers of larger catfishes.  This, 
coupled with the kidney-like role of the gills, may explain the affinity 
for nitrogenous chemicals.

I have a vague recollection of seeing a review of this fish sometime in
 --maybe -- the early 80s, but I am unable find it and age regression 
hypnosis has been of no help.  Do any of you know of post-Carolina 
references to Candirus, Vandellia cirrhosa, (= Trichomycterus)?  

Any help will be much appreciated.

Paul Lewis
Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge

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