Doctor Fish aka Pedicure Fish (Garra rufa)
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The Doctor Fish (Garra rufa), also known as the Pedicure Fish, is popular in more than just the aquarium hobby. It is famous for its ability to graze on dead skin cells on humans, so it is used in many clinics that treat psoriasis and other human skin problems. In these clinics, patients dip their limbs into the water and the Doctor Fish swarm to graze on the patient’s dead skin. In the aquarium, this fish is an interesting scavenger and grazer that is compatible with a variety of tankmates.
A member of the loach family, the Doctor Fish inhabits most of the cooler freshwater areas of the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. It prefers very oxygen-rich, fast-flowing water and will often swim directly against the current of a filter output or powerhead. Very fast water flow is a key to success in keeping this fish. Another key to success is a secure lid or canopy on the aquarium, as this fish is a skilled jumper and climber.
The Doctor Fish will graze on biofilm that grows on driftwood, rocks, and plants, so it is an excellent inhabitant for well-lit planted aquariums. It will also eat many fresh fruits and vegetables and should also be supplemented with meaty foods, both dry and frozen. Biofilm seems to be essential to its diet, so the Doctor Fish should not be added to new or biologically immature aquariums.
- Interesting personality
- Generally peaceful
- Grazes biofilm from surfaces
- Excellent for the cold water aquarium
- Temperature: 57° - 68° F (14° - 20° C)
- pH: 6.0 - 8.0
- KH: 6 - 10 dKH
- Minimum tank size: 30 gallons for a small group
- Diet: Omnivorous. Accepts high quality dry and frozen foods and needs a balance of both plant-based and meaty foods.
- Social behavior: Generally peaceful. Lives in loose groups but may fight with its own kind and similar fish in smaller tanks.
- Origin: Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions
- Average adult size: 3.9 - 4.7 inches (10 - 12 cm)
- Average purchase size: 1 inch (2.5 cm)