Blood-sucking ‘Alien’ parasite eats fish from inside out before exploding out of its body like the horror film

A BLOOD-sucking parasite has been found to eat fish from the inside before exploding out of their body – just like the horror film Alien.

The blood-sucker is one of 24 new species of the killer parasite Cymothoa exigua which stays alive by feeding on its host from the inside.

The parasite, discovered in Turkey, starts off by drinking the fish's blood like a vampire.

It uses its claws to cut off the blood supply to the fish's tongue, which withers and dies, leaving the parasite to drink its blood from the vessels that fed the tongue.

Like the alien in the film, the parasite is then free to eat whatever the fish eats – until it is so weak, it erupts from its body.

The parasite species attach to a fish's skin, gills, and tongues and prevent both feeding and development of the fish, Professor Dr Argun Akif Ozak of the Fish Diseases Department at Cukurova University said.

The fish can also be killed by the horror parasite.

Most fish are usually infected by more than one of the parasites, which can breed inside them.

The Cymothoa exigua can even change their sex at will in order to ensure they can reproduce.

This typically takes place when the parasites move to the fish's gills.

Dr Ozak says each of the parasite species, which are related to shrimp and crabs, feeds differently.

"While one species prefers sea bass, another prefers bluefish," he said.

Explaining how fish may take them in, Dr Ozak added: "When fish take water into their mouths for respiration, they also take these larvae in.

"Another way is that these parasites can grab hold of the fish when it passes over them, as these parasites are susceptible to light."

After attaching to their 'victim', the parasites start to grow and can reach up to 5cm in length.

Mehmet Nuri Kilic, who has been fishing for 20 years, said the fish lice are generally seen in farmed fish: "It affects the nutrition of the fish and weakens them.

"The body of a fish with parasites is noticeably weak. When you catch the fish, it would not feel firm but rather puny."

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