Overview

Brief Summary

The catfishes in the Neotropical subfamily Vandelliinae (family Trichomycteridae) feed exclusively on blood as adults, a very rare feeding specialization among vertebrates (the lampreys and vampire bats being the obvious examples). Their hosts are larger fishes. Little is known about vandelliines. The recently discovered juveniles are apparently predators on small aquatic invetebrates, as is the case for most other trichomycterids from other subfamilies. The structure of the mouth of juvenile vandelliines also resembles that of non-parasitic trichomycterids, but juvenile vandelliines undergo a metamorphosis during which their mouth structure transforms to the highly modified adult blood-feeding morphology. It is possible that they produce an anticoagulant as they feed since the large amount of blood taken in a single feeding bout (around twice their body volume) remains liquid during digestion. It has been speculated that some vandelliine species may be carried by large migratory fishes to upriver spawning grounds, with the large volume of ingested blood possibly inducing hormonal changes to synchronize their reproductive state with that of the host.

(De Pinna 2006)

Some vandelliines are reputed to invade and parasitize the human urethra, but researchers attempting to document this phenomenon have generally concluded that this rarely, if ever, actually happens. Spotte et al. (2001) and Zuanon and Sazima (2004) discuss the normal feeding behaviors of these fishes.

  • De Pinna, M.C.C. 2006. Diversity of Tropical Fishes. Pp. 47-84 in: A.L. Val, V.M.F. de Almeda-Val, and D.J. Randall, eds. The Physiology of Tropical Fishes. Academic Press.
  • Spotte, S., P. Petry, and J.A.S. Zuanon. 2001. Experiments on the feeding behavior of the hematophagous candiru, Vandellia cf. plazaii. Environmental Biology of Fishes 60: 459-464.
  • Zuanon, J. and I. Sazima. 2004. Vampire catfishes seek the aorta not the jugular: candirus of the genus Vandellia (Trichomycteridae) feed on major gill arteries of host fishes. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 8 (1): 31-36.
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Distribution

The catfish subfamily Vandelliinae (family Trichomycteridae) is restricted to the Neotropics.

(De Pinna 2006)

  • De Pinna, M.C.C. 2006. Diversity of Tropical Fishes. Pp. 47-84 in: A.L. Val, V.M.F. de Almeda-Val, and D.J. Randall, eds. The Physiology of Tropical Fishes. Academic Press.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Although vandelliine catfishes feed exclusively on blood as adults, the recently discovered juveniles are apparently predators on small aquatic invetebrates, as is the case for most other trichomycterids from other subfamilies--and their morphology reflects this. The structure of the mouth of juvenile vandelliines resembles that of non-parasitic trichomycterids, but juvenile vandelliines undergo a metamorphosis during which their mouth structure transforms to the highly modified adult blood-feeding morphology.

(De Pinna 2006)

  • De Pinna, M.C.C. 2006. Diversity of Tropical Fishes. Pp. 47-84 in: A.L. Val, V.M.F. de Almeda-Val, and D.J. Randall, eds. The Physiology of Tropical Fishes. Academic Press.
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Ecology

Trophic Strategy

The catfishes in the Neotropical subfamily Vandelliinae (family Trichomycteridae) feed exclusively on blood as adults, a very rare feeding specialization among vertebrates (the lampreys and vampire bats being the obvious examples). Their hosts are larger fishes.

Little is known about vandelliines. The recently discovered juveniles are apparently predators on small aquatic invetebrates, as is the case for most other trichomycterids from other subfamilies. The structure of the mouth of juvenile vandelliines also resembles that of non-parasitic trichomycterids, but juvenile vandelliines undergo a metamorphosis during which their mouth structure transforms to the highly modified adult blood-feeding morphology.

(De Pinna 2006)

Spotte et al. (2001) and Zuanon and Sazima (2004) discuss the feeding behaviors of these fishes.

  • De Pinna, M.C.C. 2006. Diversity of Tropical Fishes. Pp. 47-84 in: A.L. Val, V.M.F. de Almeda-Val, and D.J. Randall, eds. The Physiology of Tropical Fishes. Academic Press.
  • Spotte, S., P. Petry, and J.A.S. Zuanon. 2001. Experiments on the feeding behavior of the hematophagous candiru, Vandellia cf. plazaii. Environmental Biology of Fishes 60: 459-464.
  • Zuanon, J. and I. Sazima. 2004. Vampire catfishes seek the aorta not the jugular: candirus of the genus Vandellia (Trichomycteridae) feed on major gill arteries of host fishes. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 8 (1): 31-36.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Some vandelliines are reputed to invade and parasitize the human urethra, but researchers attempting to document this phenomenon have generally concluded that this rarely, if ever, actually happens.

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Wikipedia

Vandelliinae

The Vandelliinae are a subfamily of catfishes (order Siluriformes) of the family Trichomycteridae. Vandelliines are hematophagous, feeding on the blood of larger fish. Members of this subfamily may be known as candirú, notorious for occasionally entering human bodily orifices, particularly the urethra; no evidence indicates such attacks are anything more than rare and accidental perversions of the usual feeding behaviour of the parasite — it seems unlikely that it would survive in the human body for long, so such an entry should be disastrous for both parties. In the usual course of events, parasitic vandelliines enter the body cavities of host fishes, feed on blood from gill filaments, and leave again.[1]

Vandelliines usually parasitise ostariophysan fishes such as pimelodids, doradids, and characins.[2] The eyes of Vandelliinae species are relatively large among catfishes, indicating sight may be important in prey detection.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nelson, Joseph S. (2006). Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-25031-7. 
  2. ^ a b Spotte, Stephen; Petry, Paulo; Zuanon, Jansen A.S. (2001). "Experiments on the feeding behavior of the hematophagous candiru, Vandellia cf. plazaii". Environmental Biology of Fishes 60 (4): 459–464. doi:10.1023/A:1011081027565. 


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