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The Terrifying Toothpick Fish

Article #250 • Written by Alan Bellows

The vast freshwater ecosystem of the Amazon River is home to abundant animal life, and many of its species thrive by virtue of their ferocity. If one were to ask the locals which of the river's indigenous species is the most treacherous, a few might describe the roaming packs of carnivorous piranhas, or the massive anaconda snakes; but based on the general sentiment of the region, the most frequently uttered response would be "candirú."

The candirú is a tiny catfish which dwells in the depths of the Amazon River. These fish do not hunt in packs like the piranha, nor are they exceptionally large like the anaconda. In fact, the candirú is among the tiniest vertebrates on the planet, and it is sometimes referred to as the "toothpick fish" due to its small size and slender shape. Only a handful of people have had the misfortune of crossing paths with the candirú, but their experiences serve as cautionary tales to any who venture into the mighty river.

Though the candirú is a parasite, humans are not among its viable hosts. It lingers in the murky darkness at the river's bottom, quietly stalking its neighboring fish. Light is scarce in the soupy deep, but the candirú does not need to see... it can taste the traces of urea and ammonia that are expelled from breathing gills.

The tiny hunter shadows its prey, almost invisible due to its translucent body and small size. When the target fish exhales, the candirú detects the resulting flow of water and makes a dash for the exposed gill cavity with remarkable speed. Within less than a second it penetrates the gill and wriggles its way into place, erecting an umbrella-like array of spines to secure its position.

Unconcerned with the host's panicked thrashing, the firmly anchored parasite immediately nibbles a hole in a nearby artery with its needle-like teeth, feasting upon the bounty that gushes forth. Within two minutes the candirú's belly is swollen with the blood of its victim, and it retracts its gripping barbs.

A candirú attached to a host fish
A candirú attached to a host fish

Though it may seem that the exploited host fish has escaped, its injuries are so extensive that chances of survival are grim. Meanwhile the victorious attacker slinks back into the river's dark places to digest its meal.

There are many troubling stories regarding human run-ins with the candirú, though until recent years these were not given much credence by the medical community. It is not uncommon for people swimming or bathing in the river to urinate in the water, an action which creates tiny water currents that are rich in urea and ammonia. It seems that the tiny, slender catfish cannot always distinguish a urinating human from an exhaling fish gill, and on occasion it will attempt its trademark high-speed attack on some unfortunate soul.

Silvio Barbossa was one such soul. He was swimming in the Amazon River when he went head to head with the tiny parasite:

"I felt like urinating. I stood up, and it was then it attacked me. The candirú attacked me. [...] When I saw it, I was terrified. I grabbed it quickly so it couldn't go deeper inside. I could only see the end of its tail flapping. I tried to grab it, but it slipped away from me and went in. [...] I was very afraid, because the candirú bites."

When the candirú successfully invades a human, it proceeds exactly as it would with a fish host. After entering the misidentified orifice, it quickly wriggles its way in as far as possible, often accompanied by the victim's frantic attempts to grip the slippery, mucus-coated tail. In the unlikely event that the panicked victim manages to grasp the fish, its backwards-pointing barbs would cause excruciating pain at each pull, and bring a quick end to the dramatic tug-of-war. Once inside, the parasite inches its way up the urethra to the nearest blood-gorged membrane, extends its spines into the surrounding tissue, and starts feasting.

For the candirú, this misguided journey is a one-way trip; its bloody banquet leaves it too swollen to escape. The only known retaliation against the invader is delicate and expensive surgery, or failing that, a folk remedy which combines two herbs to very slowly kill and dissolve the fish. Silvio was fortunate enough to have access to modern medical facilities, though he had to endure three days of profound agony before the fish was extracted by an awestruck urogenital surgeon.

DO NOT BACK UP, SEVERE URETHRA DAMAGE
DO NOT BACK UP, SEVERE URETHRA DAMAGE

Silvio's incident was the first officially confirmed report of a candirú attacking a human, but such leg-crossingly horrific tales have haunted the region for generations. According to legend, many men chose castration as an alternative to a slow, excruciating death back before surgery was an option.

Though such brushes with the candirú are exceedingly rare in statistical terms, it is wise to heed the advice of the locals, and avoid urinating in the Amazon River at all costs. When the natives of the Amazon speak, one would be foolish not to listen. They are privy to some of the world's most horrible truths.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 30 January 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Topic suggested by fellow author Gerry Matlack.
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108 Comments
haQpod
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:06 am

First =)


haQpod
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:11 am

Jesus what a horrible fish. A remarkable and Damn Interesting story, in fact it is one of the best i ever read on this site.

"It seems that the tiny, slender catfish cannot always distinguish a urinating human from an exhaling fish gill, and on occasion it will attempt its trademark high-speed attack on some unfortunate soul." Auch.


Lusitano
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:18 am

Don't you dare telling these litle fishes to piss off!


Rick
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:19 am

This article simply made me cringe! What a horrific thing to have to go through. I've stepped on snapping turtles, been poked by catfish spines, and even once had a bass hit my feet as they dangled in the water (not damaging but does tend to startle the crap outta ya), but if something like this was local I would be scared to death to get in the water with it!

As a side note, why is there such an increase of inane "First" posts in all blogs across the internet? Those are so annoying and infantile. Can't you just ban people that post like that? They are no better than spambots.


rev.felix
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:20 am

Fifth!


rev.felix
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:29 am

After reading that article, I don't think I shall ever pee again.

Anyway, althogh I agree the first posts are rather annoying, this is actually one of the better sites in regards to them. I've been places where there are first posts up past 400. (Posts after #400, not 400 posts, althogh I've seen that too.)


lostindustrial
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:43 am

really. Who the hell cares if you are the first post? If you say nothing else, you have only wasted space.


lennon860
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:12 am

I just had about ten people ask me if I was "O.K" while reading this at work. The cause of their concern may have been when I clutched my crotch and let out a groan. Good article... I almost puked!


HarleyHetz
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:21 am

Wow, what an incredible story, I shudder to think!!! Excellent work Alan, I can't even imagine the horrible pain that must be associated with such an experience!!!!!!

As for the first post syndrome, I have a suggestion, perhaps you offer to put some of the more intelligent posts into the book at the end of the articles, unless the author has been guilty of first post syndrome!


FireDude
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:22 am

I think I saw something about this on a Discovery channel. I will never go swimming within 100 miles of the Amazon. And if I had to, I would wear a steel-plated speedo.


fuzzhammer
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:26 am

we need to start a support group for silvio and other victims of candirú. Candirú Anonymous.


Haywood Jablome
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:29 am

Usually the guy that makes the "first" post doesn't much else. But I think you guys missed that this guy actually made a post about the article, He is the first and second poster. He only wanted to get his "first" in before anyone else, so he posted a quick post that says "first" then took his time writing his real response.


riquiscott
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:34 am

I have heard about candiru before and every time I a) cringed and b) assumed this must be apocryphal.

Damn interesting article Alan, a cookie for you!

Bad pun Alan, I retract my offer of a cookie.

Keep up the good work - you may earn your cookie back!


lip_ring
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:36 am

Holy carp, DI! (hehehe...) I loved the article, but it doesn't explain what happens to the other gender... I can imagine that it would be much worse for women, who do not even have the castration option. You might not even know which oriface this little beastie chose! ::shudder::


Lusitano
Posted 30 January 2007 at 09:44 am

the story about these fishes should be told to all those who use public pools, especialy kids! believe me, i once saw a "U-boat" (and i dont mean a german one... then again maybe i do =P) floating on the old "dishwasher" (the school pool) after some kids had been there. Of course one time the roof in the gimnasium fell off when my sisters class was entering, but that has nothing to do with the case.

My point is that if this story was told to those who use pools im sure that pissing in public waters would seriously decrease!!!

If you didn´t apreciated this comment blame my boss not had me promoted yet


dylanfan
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:08 am

Who cares if someone thinks it's great to announce that he was the first to post? The immaturity of it always makes me smile, especially the person who announced they were fifth. Maybe I'm immature too.
By the way, excellent article and a fun way to start my day, thinking about swimming with those things. It makes me shudder. Thanks.


frenchsnake
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:16 am

Please, let's not start with the "first" argument all over again. I really don't see why it would bother anyone anyway.

Really DI and terrifying article. As far as women's bathing suits are concerned, though, does anyone know if this thing would actually gnaw through the fabric to get to the "target"? Because our suits tend to be tighter... assuming you're wearing a suit.


davida
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:20 am

My new Pool Sign will now read:

Welcome to our "ool" notice there is no "P" in it....Do you know what a toothpick fish does for a living?


Tink
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:27 am

"...when he went head to head with the tiny parasite:

lol, Oh Alan you are a laugh riot!

Castration, something to carp about. Thank goodness there was a skilled sturgeon nearby for this fellow, whew! he could have suffered a bad case of crabs to boot.

Oh yeah, I'm gonna pass a copy of this article to all my male friends, just to enjoy the show. LOL. Thanks for a great start to my day!


leob
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:36 am

Tink said: "... Thank goodness there was a skilled sturgeon nearby for this fellow"

Although a skilled piranha would be much more likely.


Stead311
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:46 am

This article has made me feel like I just got finished throwing up for the last 3 hours. My stomach is cramped and my veins are pumping battery acid because my legs were tense the entire time. Alan... evil.. evil Alan...


3ThreeIII
Posted 30 January 2007 at 10:57 am

Reason # 2 that we left the water and went up into the trees.

Sorry Honey, I can't tonight... a haddock has me!


G
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:06 am

I've heard about this freaker of a fish a long time ago. I have been in some of those scary rivers too. I was lucky not to be one of these poor souls. Makes me cringe to think about it. Ugh.. why.. why.. why do these things exist.


SecretSpiceRack
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:09 am

This is Floj, I decided it was about time to change my name.

Anyway, wow! I've heard of that fish before and still painful to read about! Silvio Barbossa needs some homemade fresh baked pumpkin pie! I'd even triple scoop the whip cream for this one. Poor guy.


naser
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:45 am

Wait..wait..just wait for one god damn minute, do you folks think what I'm thinking right now? Did that fish enter through the guy's pee-hole!! I mean, holy mother of merciful heavens... I'm a man, and all I gotta say is " That has got to hurt"...

Although, it probably hurts the catfishes I usually fry even more. To think of it all, ain't man the cruelest, most vile of all beings?


f5
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:58 am

I am not sure, I want to know what's being displayed in the third picture.

DI story.


TimWhit
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:00 pm

OUCH! Would wearing a condom help?


dr_toonie
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:08 pm

TimWhit said: "OUCH! Would wearing a condom help?"

Well, seeing as how it only senses you based on your pee, I must ask if you've ever peed while wearing a condom.


sulkykid
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:10 pm

"Castration" is an incorrect term.


goodwindman
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:20 pm

"According to legend, many men chose castration as an alternative to a slow, excruciating death back before surgery was an option."-Alan Bellows

Hmmmm, for once castration does make sense....*shudders*...


another viewpoint
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:22 pm

...I don't swim in your toilet...so...please don't pee in my pool!


Coherent
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:23 pm

I think that stories of this fish are far more likely to have resulted from urethral masturbation gone horribly wrong... and the masturbator's attempts to cover up the event and escape the humiliation associated with it.

Cases where the candirú is described to have jumped from the surface of the water and swum up the urine stream and into the penis... just don't seem credible.

However, I don't plan to go swimming in the Amazon anytime soon, either. It's like playing Russian Roulette with parasites... Parasite Roulette!


nukebass
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:33 pm

I'm Brazilian, but never heard 'bout this fish before... That's why this site is DI!
Even livin' in Northeast region, Amazon river is far way north from here... thank God!
Hey, did ya see yankees? Don't you ever think in pissing on our rivers!!! Hahaha! :-D


nukebass
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:39 pm

Coherent said: "It's like playing Russian Roulette with parasites… Parasite Roulette!"

Parasite Roulette... Hey! Gud name for a song! :-)

*(getting a blank sheet notation paper)*


Misfit
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:49 pm

No one in a year could have possibly scarred me the way you have scarred me today, Alan.

Good work.


me09
Posted 30 January 2007 at 12:49 pm

EEEEWWWWWWWWW...!


Radiatidon
Posted 30 January 2007 at 01:00 pm

goodwindman said: ""According to legend, many men chose castration as an alternative to a slow, excruciating death back before surgery was an option."-Alan Bellows


Hmmmm, for once castration does make sense….*shudders*…"

Actually castration is primarily the removal of the testicles, though in certain groups (India and China to name a few) this also included the full removal of the penis. The proper term for partial of full removal of the penis is called a Penectomy. Just ask Bobbit.

An except from an article authored by Petry an expert in neotropical ichthyology, Anor Samad the urogential surgeon who had performed the operation, and fish physiologist Stephen Spotte:

"Tension on the spines had relaxed in death, and they no longer gripped. Had the candirú been alive, its removal would have been more difficult and resulted in greater trauma to the patient. The fish penetrated the victim's urethra while he was standing in the river urinating, actually emerging from the water and entering his penis, filling the entire anterior urethra [emphasis added]. He reported trying to grab hold of the fish, but it was very slippery, and it forced its way inside with alarming speed. The candirú's forward progress was blocked by the sphincter separating the penile urethra from the bulbar urethra. With the passage blocked, the fish had made a lateral turn and bitten through the tissue into the corpus spongiosum, creating an opening into the scrotum. Perfusion [flushing] of the urethra with sterile distilled water prior to endoscopy induced further immediate and pronounced scrotal edema, making it evident that the opening had allowed the perfusate to enter the scrotum. Although the patient had remembered the fish as being small, after extraction it measured 134 mm (5-1/2 in) [long], with a head width of 11.5 mm (7/16 in). " sic

Though the scrotum suffered minor damage, the man’s testicles did not have to be removed.

Now if you could excuse me, I need to pee. ***Covers bowl with cheesecloth -- just in case***


ottman
Posted 30 January 2007 at 01:04 pm

I believe this fish was mentioned in the movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery.


jglucker
Posted 30 January 2007 at 01:04 pm

Most disguting and stomach turning story on here... congratulations!


flutersmom
Posted 30 January 2007 at 01:54 pm

Radiatidon, thanks for clearing up the confusion about castration and supplying the medical/anatomic specifics on the case.

This leaves me thinking that men should no longer view kidney stones as the worst possible pain that can befall a man's privates, eh?

lip_ring said: "Holy carp, DI! (hehehe…) I loved the article, but it doesn't explain what happens to the other gender… I can imagine that it would be much worse for women, who do not even have the castration option. You might not even know which oriface this little beastie chose! ::shudder::"

With that in mind, I no longer think of childbirth as one of the worst possible pains that can befall a woman's privates either. The whole thing just reaffirms the vow I made at Myrtle Beach in the summer of 1975, after viewing the movie "Jaws": I will never again willingly swim in any body of water that isn't crystal clear and enclosed in concrete!


shanachie
Posted 30 January 2007 at 01:58 pm

Sorta like reverse sushi? Raw fish eating man? (shiver)


Xoebe
Posted 30 January 2007 at 02:12 pm

Cases where the candirú is described to have jumped from the surface of the water and swum up the urine stream and into the penis… just don't seem credible.

Indeed, they are not. I expect that the fish follows the urine stream of a swimming man, or man standing belly-deep in the water.

I had a weird experience one of the first times I was at the beach in California. I was playing in the surf, when I felt something...horribly wrong. A tiny shrimp like creature got into my belly button and was frantically trying to get out by whirring his little arthropod feet as fast as he can. Imagine someone sticking a small toothbrush into your belly button. I dug him out, post haste.

The feeling made me never, ever want to go back in the water ever again. I can handle sharks. But that was just too much.


Fibonacci
Posted 30 January 2007 at 02:43 pm

When I started reading the article and saw "It seems that the tiny, slender catfish cannot always distinguish a urinating human from an exhaling fish gill" I physically cringed.

I was going to say something like "shame, thats what you get for peeing in the river", but the more I think about it, the more I realise that nobody, bar nobody deserves this to happen to them


Techno-Kid
Posted 30 January 2007 at 03:21 pm

I think I speak for all of humanity when I say Fuck That Thing.


1c3d0g
Posted 30 January 2007 at 03:55 pm

Well, this is a pretty good punishment for people like Saddam Hussein, IMO. Too bad the bastard was hanged last year. Perhaps it could serve as a deterrent for future dictators though...


Sir Osis Of Liver
Posted 30 January 2007 at 03:57 pm

I vaguely recall hearing stories about some sort of penile roto-rooter that doctors used to use as a treatment in some kind of sexual disease. Maybe it was a horrible urban myth my mother told to scare us off sex?
"Dammit, I've got VD again. Where's my fish?"


agooga
Posted 30 January 2007 at 04:52 pm

Reminds me of the parasite they put in Chekov's ear in Star Trek II-- but far, far, far, far worse.

And what is the story with the above poster saying this was "urethral masturbation gone wrong?" WTF? Are you serious???


vonmeth
Posted 30 January 2007 at 06:27 pm

Well, "urethral masturbation" is not something everyone in their lifetime hears. Consider yourself among the unlucky ones that have. And yes, supposedly people do do it. *shudder*


sh0cktopus
Posted 30 January 2007 at 06:30 pm

Wasn't there another movie where they put a squiggly parasite thing into your belly button? One of the Matrix movies, maybe? This fish is definitely one of the most unspeakable creatures I've ever heard of. Of course, there are probably a handful of creatures even more unspeakable that have gone extinct in recent years that were never known to science in the Amazon region alone. And how cute that the exact same idiot that caused a flame war about "First" comments a few days ago has done it again. Dear haQpod: go trolling on Myspace blogs and "First" away. Can't you see that you're pissing a lot of people off? Or is that what you get off on? Get a life.


Secret Ninja
Posted 30 January 2007 at 07:13 pm

agooga said: "And what is the story with the above poster saying this was "urethral masturbation gone wrong?" WTF? Are you serious???"

Ever read Haunted, by Chuck Pahlaniuk? I think thats what the thing one of the guys was doing. Did NOT sound pleasant...


adamj.
Posted 30 January 2007 at 08:37 pm

51st!

by the way, horrifying,...absolutley horrifying, but interesting.


Kourage
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:09 pm

{retty7 shure they mention this fish in the movie The Rundown.


Dr. Evil
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:30 pm

My latest plot to obliterate the human race...breed candiru and release them into sewerage treatment facilities...from there they can swim into peoples toilets...and...do wat they do...


Dr. Evil
Posted 30 January 2007 at 11:32 pm

btw alan...not trying to take any credit or anything but i suggested this for an article like 3 months ago...good job on the article tho :-D


Marcelo Paiva
Posted 31 January 2007 at 05:11 am

I'm Brazilian and I happened to live in the Amazon region in the 80's (my father is a military man, so we moved a lot). A remember hearing lots of stories about the Candirú fish manly with the indians, since they swim naked. But that always happened to women, it was the first time I heard one of those stories about men.
Anyway, the Amazon river is almost an ocean itself. There are places it's so wide one cannot see the other margin, so the odds of finding such a fish are very very slim.
As far as I'm concearned, the candirú is more common at the igapós which are spots where the river gets a swamp-like form and the streams flow slower.


Rachel briggs
Posted 31 January 2007 at 06:44 am

Absolutely horrific!! I will never let my husband swim in the Amazon!!


Dave Group
Posted 31 January 2007 at 07:54 am

I think this little fishie was mentioned in the movie Sniper (1993) with Tom Berenger and Billy Zane.

Heads up to everyone in North America. With global warming, this thing could be headed our way.


ti83
Posted 31 January 2007 at 10:52 am

Holy crap! Is there no end to horrifying beasts on this tiny planet? I swear, whenever you hear about the worst one ever, you hear about some other one that makes your skin crawl even more. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. I couldn't read this article without crossing my legs.


Alan Bellows
Posted 31 January 2007 at 11:56 am

Dr. Evil said: "btw alan…not trying to take any credit or anything but i suggested this for an article like 3 months ago…good job on the article tho :-D"

Thanks man. We received two suggestions for this story: one from Gerry from before he was on the writing side of DI, and another with no name and no URL attached. The latter was probably yours.

If you like, I can add your name to the credit line... just send an e-mail to alan at damninteresting dot com and let me know how you'd like your name to appear, and what URL it should link to (if any). Just make sure the return address in the e-mail is the one in your user account, so I can make sure I don't get taken advantage of by some shameless link-huckster posing as you. Damn those hucksters and their nefarious ways!


Sabyrne
Posted 31 January 2007 at 12:30 pm

With any luck global warming will spell the end for these lovely creatures... and if not global warming at least deforestaion... or acid rain... maybe nuclear fallout... although an alien invasion would make much better news. Oh sry, yea Go BEARS.


totoro!totoro!
Posted 31 January 2007 at 12:44 pm

Floj? Seriously?
I've missed the pie days!
Not that I actually miss them.


Rush
Posted 31 January 2007 at 02:11 pm

Ouch!!


just_dave
Posted 31 January 2007 at 03:19 pm

1c3d0g said: "Well, this is a pretty good punishment for people like Saddam Hussein, IMO. Too bad the bastard was hanged last year. Perhaps it could serve as a deterrent for future dictators though…"

Oh, that'd be devious! Force the bad guy to drink a couple three pints, then put him blindfolded, bound & naked in a tank with a hundred or so of these little fellers. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaa


bomber991
Posted 31 January 2007 at 05:34 pm

Thanks, now my penis hurts.


everybodyelse
Posted 31 January 2007 at 06:33 pm

This ought scare off the tourists at the local beach from urinating all the time. Look for this printed out at all beaches in Florida with an extra line about them moving to the Gulf of Mexico and Coco Beach.


cerealkiller
Posted 31 January 2007 at 07:29 pm

The movie 'The Rundown' comes to mind.....

I wonder if they can gnaw their way through your pants?


another viewpoint
Posted 31 January 2007 at 08:32 pm

Sabyrne said: "With any luck global warming will spell the end for these lovely creatures… and if not global warming at least deforestaion… or acid rain… maybe nuclear fallout… although an alien invasion would make much better news. "

...awww shoot. Just pee on it. Then again, maybe not!

...HEY...is that a candiru between your legs are you just unhappy to see me?

...better to be pissed off...than pissed on!


Old Man
Posted 31 January 2007 at 10:18 pm

Radiatidon quoted:

"Although the patient had remembered the fish as being small, after extraction it measured 134 mm (5-1/2 in) [long], with a head width of 11.5 mm (7/16 in). "

Maybe it was gorged/bloated with blood or other fluids? I just can't believe it would be able to er, disappear in there without the guy stopping it. A head width of 11.5mm? Maybe the urethral masterbation theorists have a point.

So: You're peeing in the Amazon and a fish swims halfway up your favourite organ. You have 5 mins before it starts to bite. The tail is just visible. What do you do?
a) apply a tight tourniquet to prevent further penetration
b) pull it out but suffer agonising damage
c) ask the indians for the three-day herbal cure (a dead fish in your...?)
d) grab a penknife and self-administer a removal procedure
e) allow it to do as it pleases, and concentrate on getting to a doctor ASAP?

You can see I'm enjoying this.


ExperimentNo6
Posted 01 February 2007 at 12:57 am

Coherent said: "Cases where the candirú is described to have jumped from the surface of the water and swum up the urine stream and into the penis… just don't seem credible.
"

I've actually read an account of it swimming up the stream, but that was only because he was standing thigh-deep in the water and was an inch or less away from the surface. (I cant find the link to this so it might not be credible)


FireDude
Posted 01 February 2007 at 08:58 am

Coherent said: "Cases where the candirú is described to have jumped from the surface of the water and swum up the urine stream and into the penis… just don't seem credible."

Definitely siding with Coherent on this one. In order to swim up a stream of urine, the fish would have to be narrower than the stream in question (as it would have to have a medium to push off of) and working damn hard. It could "jump" for the target, but this is not only inconsistant with its normal behaviors but also the fish would likely just get deflected by the stream and miss the opening. This should even be true for thigh-deep relief. I'd think it would most likely occur immediately after a waist-deep person was done warming up the river (plenty of trail, no stream to fight against).

Old Man said: "So: You're peeing in the Amazon and a fish swims halfway up your favourite organ. You have 5 mins before it starts to bite. The tail is just visible. What do you do?"

I'd like to think I'd start with a) apply a tight tourniquet to prevent further penetration and move on to e) allow it to do as it pleases, and concentrate on getting to a doctor ASAP, but I would likely f) run around screaming like a little girl until the police tazered me.


frenchsnake
Posted 01 February 2007 at 09:16 am

If you ever get a candiru for a pet and it dies, I wouldn't recommend flushing it... just to be safe... *shudder*


joeyjugalugs
Posted 01 February 2007 at 01:58 pm

Techno-Kid said: "I think I speak for all of humanity when I say Fuck That Thing."

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

(Please note that I became a member just to respond to this comment. Hilarious. You definitely speak on behalf of me)


dr_toonie
Posted 01 February 2007 at 04:36 pm

Secret Ninja said: " agooga said: 'And what is the story with the above poster saying this was 'urethral masturbation gone wrong?' WTF? Are you serious???' Ever read Haunted, by Chuck Pahlaniuk? I think thats what the thing one of the guys was doing. Did NOT sound pleasant…"

Indeed I have read it. While it is based on a true story, somehow I think it seems more likely that a fish used its senses to mistake a peeing person for the gills of a fish which excrete similar fluids, than that a native caught a fish the size of a toothpick that would ignore all bait other than pee using conventional means, expressly for the purpose of shoving it up his urethra, when it has spines on it that look angry. I mean, sure people are stupid, but there are more readily available, less pointy things in the jungle.

For those of you reading this who are wondering what Guts by Chuck Pahlanuik is, it was a short story featured in Pahlanuik's book 'Haunted'. It is availible on the internet readily, as he used it as the promo for the book, and if you look up "guts by chuck" on google with 'Im feeling lucky', you can find it. I should tell you, however, that it is truly disturbing in every way.


cvalleskey
Posted 01 February 2007 at 06:36 pm

Hours later, and I'm still feeling nauseous!


Dr. Evil
Posted 01 February 2007 at 07:21 pm

Alan Bellows said: "Thanks man. We received two suggestions for this story: one from Gerry from before he was on the writing side of DI, and another with no name and no URL attached. The latter was probably yours.


If you like, I can add your name to the credit line… just send an e-mail to alan at damninteresting dot com and let me know how you'd like your name to appear, and what URL it should link to (if any). Just make sure the return address in the e-mail is the one in your user account, so I can make sure I don't get taken advantage of by some shameless link-huckster posing as you. Damn those hucksters and their nefarious ways!"

thanks alan but ill let gerry have the name on this article...ill just have to suggest anuther damn interesting article to have my name immortalised on. :-D


Red1337Sox
Posted 01 February 2007 at 08:51 pm

I dont really care about the "first" posts anyway. After that ONE post we don't have to worry about it anymore. What annoys me is the 15 people who complain about it. It distrupts the comment section much more than just as single post at the very beginning of the section. If it really bugs you guys just try to ignore it. With no feed back it will die out.

I saw this story on a news channel a little while back, and my reaction was the same then as it is now. When I see some one get hurt I cringe, and just hearing about this is like that to the tenth power. I'm just gonna stay away from the Amazon river... Far away.


Fibonacci
Posted 01 February 2007 at 10:30 pm

Last!


Princess Sunshine
Posted 01 February 2007 at 11:29 pm

That's sickeningly horrible...yet very interesting!

-1st!


Intellectual-Bonobo Hybrid.
Posted 02 February 2007 at 03:45 am

Swimming mosquitos! Another case of evolution finding similar solutions in different environments. Makes me think that the Universe, with different enviroments on differents planets, is full of different flavors on the same theme. Will be after my time until we see it, but I'm sure the science fiction writers -- in retrospect-- will be seen generally as lacking imagination.


justapeon
Posted 02 February 2007 at 06:01 am

The first time I read about this the fish was referred to as a "willy fish". Having gone through a proceedure where a special scope and then tube and tools were shoved up my genetalia I have doubts about this fish. While am not a "big man" I was amazed at how much my ureter could stretch (when I saw the device I about passed out thinking "no freakin way!!!") the Dr had to use a bit of force for the initial penetration. I just can't see a fish generating the force required especially against a stream of urine. As soon as I felt something trying to get in my willy I would be squirming and grabbing. Of course maybe this guy was another John Holmes...


Intellectual-Bonobo Hybrid.
Posted 02 February 2007 at 12:39 pm

I don't think the fish has to swim upsteam, more like following the scent of where the stream just was.


Monty
Posted 02 February 2007 at 08:03 pm

... I don't think i'll ever look at fish the same way again... oorrooww. *moans and grimaces*


joeyjugalugs
Posted 04 February 2007 at 03:05 pm

I can't believe that someone is attempting to be the first person to swim the length of the Amazon River with creatures like this in there...why??


kherdiezel
Posted 05 February 2007 at 03:09 am

everything has a purpose, i think this creature can be use as punishment to all rapist..=)


Brandie
Posted 05 February 2007 at 01:35 pm

Yikes - what a nasty little bugger! I don't think I've ever winced so much while reading a DI article...


Shandooga
Posted 05 February 2007 at 04:16 pm

Mmmmm, fish.


iq_two
Posted 07 February 2007 at 06:08 pm

This fish was mentioned in the book The Codex by Douglas Preston, too.


Krull
Posted 08 February 2007 at 02:28 pm

frenchsnake said: "Please, let's not start with the "first" argument all over again. I really don't see why it would bother anyone anyway.


Really DI and terrifying article. As far as women's bathing suits are concerned, though, does anyone know if this thing would actually gnaw through the fabric to get to the "target"? Because our suits tend to be tighter… assuming you're wearing a suit."

Would you chance it??!


Mez
Posted 15 February 2007 at 08:07 am

kherdiezel said: "everything has a purpose, i think this creature can be use as punishment to all rapist..=)"

That's a fantastic idea! I reckon it'd have a better deterrent effect than the death penalty.

And thank you Radiatidon for that very detailed, almost-too-much-information excerpt. I managed not to cringe during the main article, but the following sentence was just too much:

Radiatidon said: "With the passage blocked, the fish had made a lateral turn and bitten through the tissue into the corpus spongiosum, creating an opening into the scrotum."

OUCH!


big pepc
Posted 22 April 2007 at 05:40 pm

A new low.


65esorhtebazile
Posted 24 April 2007 at 11:07 pm

"I felt like urinating. I stood up, and it was then it attacked me. The candirú attacked me. […] When I saw it, I was terrified. I grabbed it quickly so it couldn't go deeper inside. I could only see the end of its tail flapping. I tried to grab it, but it slipped away from me and went in. […] I was very afraid, because the candirú bites."

smooooooooootthhhhhh


jaydawg53
Posted 27 April 2007 at 08:09 am

Grey's Anatomy fan here... did anybody see the show last night? A patient had one of these up his pee-pee, and they had to operate and all... when they started talkign about the symptoms, I looekd at my wife and said "It's one of those spiky fish things that I read about on Damn Interesting!" She thought I was nuts, until they revealed that it was in fact a parasitic fish in his weiner.

Needless to say, I don't ever want to cross paths with one of these little bastards.


Jonathan Field
Posted 13 May 2007 at 10:37 am

Hey, I think that Grey's Anatomy episode got the idea from this article! The episode is called "Desire" and it was broadcast on April 26th 2007. I don't know what the lead time is on episodes, but it seems possible that the author, Tom Verica, (tooth)picked the idea up right here! An example of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, I suppose. But a good episode and a good article. A damn interesting world!


Kao_Valin
Posted 12 July 2007 at 02:05 pm

This fish was also mentioned in The Venture Bros. The Monarch was going to use that fish on Dr. Venture and his family as a means of sinister torture and death. I'm glad I wont go head to head with this fish in the Northern US.


MiladyM
Posted 08 August 2007 at 07:46 am

DAMN Were in a Tight SPOT!


Israa
Posted 24 December 2007 at 03:18 am

I actually learned about this little fish watching the last episode season three of Grey’s Anatomy. After seeing the X-Ray on the show and their explanation of how and why it happened, I had to search online for more details because it was rare and DAMN interesting! I also had the same question as someone asked earlier, would it happen to a female?!


AntiBugs
Posted 14 January 2008 at 05:38 am

Imagine if these guys inhabits your toilet bowls.Shucks,I wouldn't want to think bout it


elphaba
Posted 16 January 2008 at 06:39 pm

That sounds incredibly painful. Was this the "Penis fish" from Grey's anatomy?


Arievlis
Posted 26 February 2008 at 01:39 pm

Hey Guys, I'm a Brasilian guy and was thinking about delivering a bunch of these little pests right in the Florida rivers next summer. Don't you think it's a good idea?!?!?


catra7000
Posted 14 March 2008 at 02:24 pm

I'm curious, if it were a woman who peed in the water, and the fish got in her, would she need a hysterectomy???? It seems either way she might become sterile. I also squirmed in my seat as I read this article!


bookworm 92
Posted 10 April 2008 at 06:48 am

holy shit... when i received this artocle from a friend for a project i read the whole thing... and jotted down the info... and then sent this article to everyone on my contact list (not just the guys) and ya what would females do to get rid of one if this happened to them???????? revolting and horrifying yet soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo neat.... this article helps alot... thanks.


Rachelita
Posted 12 May 2008 at 12:50 pm

That is absolutely horrible! Yikes!


venusatpeace
Posted 30 August 2008 at 06:48 pm

*shudder*
and I was gunna go pee after this one last article...
Thanks a lot Alan.
Now no one will go pee.


Rsirman
Posted 03 January 2009 at 01:44 pm

I went to the Amazon, and they warned us about the fish, but it wasn't a big problem. You have to really stupid to take a piss where you know they live. But, they aren't in all locations of the Amazon, or at least they aren't a threat. It is like, when you go surfing, you take a risk of getting eaten by a shark, it probably won't happen though. With this fish, unless you are in an area where it has been reported that it lives, you have nothing to worry about. Me and my friends went skinny dipping in the Amazon river and nothing happened. But, if you go, be sure you wear your swimsuits at all times. In Brazil, men wear speedos, and in the Amazon it is for a good reason. The fish can't gnaw through the fabric because it is too small and too tight around your body. But, the Amazon is the best place in the world. Best vacation of my life. :)


Cyber Rodent
Posted 24 March 2009 at 05:29 pm

catra7000 said: "I'm curious, if it were a woman who peed in the water, and the fish got in her, would she need a hysterectomy???? It seems either way she might become sterile. I also squirmed in my seat as I read this article!"

It has happened, although not with quite such drastic consequences as you fear. There was a doco on television a couple of weeks ago on this little beastie (also known as the "Vampire Fish"), and there was a couple of cases where women had been "infiltrated". In these cases, the fish only made it as far as the vagina (rather than the urethra - I guess it was right next door, and offered a bigger opening), and hadn't gotten to the uterus. So other than some bleeding (and obvious discomfort), there was no serious damage (it is thicker-walled and more spacious than the urethra, so the fish's influence was contained better). Besides, the female urethra is very short (only an inch or so) before you hit the main sphincter of the bladder, so there would really be no room even for a small fish in there.


manuel
Posted 27 April 2009 at 01:58 am

Holy crap this is horrible. But it will teach you not to piss in the water once and for all. Damn pigs.


TheChinditzOfLove
Posted 18 August 2009 at 01:23 pm

Electrical wire as a foreign body in a male urethra: a case report:

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2649937

Definetly NFSW. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT, for christsake click to enlarge the pics.

Intelectual-Bonobo Hybrid: Best Internetmoniker ever.


ChiefOf10
Posted 28 August 2010 at 03:57 am

I know its a natural reaction but does anyone know the reason why we tend to cringe when we read about a painful sounding experience like in the article above -even though it hasn't actually happened to us? I'm interested to learn more about it. Hmm... empathetic pain...?


END OF COMMENTS
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