|Prey||Aufwuchs fauna: Algae|
(especially green algae)
|Status||Least Concern (presumed)|
The garra rufa, also known as the doctor fish, nibble fish or kangal fish, is a fish indigenous to Turkish river systems and hot springs. They are notable for their gentle, "ticklish" removal of dead skin in search of algae which is said to help greatly with psoriasis or other skin-related problems, as well as to return skin to a healthy, soft appearance. Because of this, they are found in some locations across the world in various spa treatment centers.
While the doctor fish treatment is proven to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, they are not intended as an actual curative treatment for the disease as no actual cure is known at this time (circa 2014). However, the very usage of these fish, at least for the wider public, is still a widely debated topic on the grounds of its efficacy and validity since it is not shown to have either positive nor negative effects. It is noted that while the species can be kept as aquarium pets in the home, these are not well suited for skin-feeding behavior as that aspect only fully manifests itself under conditions where the food supply is somewhat scare and unpredictable.
These fish are not actively seeking to heal the skin of larger creatures, and are instead simply foraging for aufwuchs, their diet in the wild, of which the dominant component is green algae and diatoms. However, small crustaceans, rotifers and protozoans are also commonly fed upon as parts of the aufwuchs. Insect larvae, oligochaetes and tardigrades are peculiar to freshwater aufwuchs faunas.