A Tongue Eating Parasite That Becomes The Fish’s Tongue!?

Cymothoa exigua, or the tongue-eating louse, is a parasitic crustacean of the family Cymothoidae. This parasite enters fish through the gills, and then attaches itself at the base of the fish’s tongue. The female attaches to the tongue and the male attaches on the gill arches beneath and behind the female. Females are 8–29 millimetres (0.3–1.1 in) long and 4–14 mm (0.16–0.55 in) in maximum width. Males are approximately 7.5–15 mm (0.3–0.6 in) long and 3–7 mm (0.12–0.28 in) wide.[1] The parasite destroys the fish’s tongue, and then attaches itself to the stub of what was once its tongue and becomes the fish’s new tongue. Wikipedia

And when you think that’s bad, think again! We have their relatives along some of our coast!

Photographer: Professor Niko J Smit

Ceratothoa imbricata (Crustacea, Isopoda: Cymothoidae) was seen in a Diplodus sargus sargus (White seabream, Blacktail), in the Tsitsikamma National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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