Candiru is a species of fish found in the Amazon and it comes with a bad reputation. The BBC documentary, "Horror story: Candiru: the Toothpick Fish," described how the tiny fish apparently practices parasitation of the human urethra by penetrating their private parts. The story goes that they enter the organs when people pee in the water. Once inside, they chomp down and eat it from the inside. This is a horror story that's enough to make anyone cancel their eco-tour to the jungle.

Penile penetrating fish usually engages in parasitation of other catfish

According to a later report by the BBC, the fish is very small and almost translucent. It finds other fish, sneaks up into the gill and latches on to suck their blood. The theory is that for humans, they follow the scent of urea, the same kind of chemicals expelled by fish gills, into the human body. They also noted that "German botanist Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius was the first European to document candirus in the Amazon." There's more than one of the fish in the family, but the culprit is thought to be around five centimeters-long and is known as the Vandellia Cirrhosa. wrote, "To the extreme agony of the unlucky person, the Candiru swims up into their [private parts].

Spines on its head make it very difficult to extract. Amputation is sometimes the only course of action that can be taken." Horror stories abounded and Dr. Eigenmann documented many of them in the early 1800s. They tied in with reports by Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius that Amazonians sometimes tied their urethra closed to stop the hungry fish from entering their bodies.

Apparently, once they lodged up there, their fins and spine prevented them from coming out again. The only cure was top chop off the organ. It's not mentioned what the women did, however.

Private parts invader researchers debunk the Candiru

In 2013, a less fanciful, modern scientist, Irmgard Bauer from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, wondered why there was not more medical evidence.

While early explorers had seen people with their private bits chopped off, a theory arose that this could actually be attributed to piranhas rather than the Candiru. Stephen Spotte did a test with urine to see if the fish followed the scent, but they more interested in another fish. He was, therefore, very interested in a 1997 report of a doctor performing surgery to remove a Candiru from a man's penis. It was the only modern-day case reported to a doctor.

Dr. Anoar Samad documented the operation and seemingly, he did find and extract the parasitic fish from the inside of an unfortunate victim. The BBC noted that Spotte had some issues with the claim. "He was presented with photos, a video of the procedure and even a preserved specimen." But Spotte noted that the fish was probably too big and showed no signs of having any fins cut off, which would have to be done to extract it.

Will you chance your arm the Amazon muncher?

Even though it sounds like a debunk and hoax, even Spotte isn't totally ready to wipe the existence and behavior of the fish off the slate. The BBC cited him as saying the possibility is not zero. It's around the odds of "being struck by lightning while simultaneously eaten by a shark."

In 2015, yet another video emerged that may have debunked the debunk:

What do you think of the myth? Is the Candiru bad rep deserved? Would you chance you chance your private parts with a fish that practices parasitation? Stay up to date with interesting news by following the Curiosities Channel on Blasting News.