Garra rufa
Garra rufa
General Information
Classification Garra rufa
Species Type Garra
Homeworld Earth
Intelligence Non-Sapient
Biochemistry Carbon-based lifeform
Biological Information
Locomotion Swimming
Feeding Behavior Herbivore
Prey Aufwuchs fauna: Algae
(especially green algae)
Small crustaceans
Insect larvae
Lineage Information
Cultural Information
Alignment Neutral
Organization Schools
Sociocultral characteristics
Scientific Taxonomy
Planet Earth
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Eumetazoa
Infrakingdom Bilateria
Superphylum Deuterostomia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Superclass Osteichthyes
Class Actinopterygii
Order Cypriniformes
Family Cyprinidae
Species Garra
Subspecies rufa
Other Information
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.


Garra rufa are naturally found in the river basins of Northern and Central Middle East—primarily Iraq, Iran, Oman, Syria and Turkey.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.