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Why do fish feel slimy and lose scales when you touch them? © Getty Images

Why do fish feel slimy and lose scales when you touch them?

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There's something distinctively fishy about holding a wet pet.

Asked by: Adam Kenedy, Agneash

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Fish secrete a glyco-protein slime from the cells in their skin to make it harder for parasites to attach. Some fish even secrete toxins into the slime to deter predators.

Fish scales provide protection and reduce water turbulence. They overlap from head to tail and are only attached at the front edge. Scraping the fish from tail to head lifts the scales and wrenches them loose.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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