The Piranhas

Posted by on Apr-9-2011

Piranhas are the most notorious living aquatic animals. They are found in the Amazon basin. They are known for their sharp teeth and a voracious appetite for meat. Traditionally, only the four genera Pristobrycon, Pygocentrus, Pygopristis and Serrasalmus are considered to be true piranhas, due to their specialized teeth. Any species of piranha should be considered potentially dangerous even though there is no record of attacks resulting in death by these fish on live humans.

Piranhas are normally about 14 to 26 cm long, although some specimens have been reported to be up to 43 cm. Serrasalmus, Pristobrycon, Pygocentrus and Pygopristis are most easily recognized by their unique dentition. All piranhas have a single row of sharp teeth in both jaws; the teeth are tightly packed and interlocking and used for rapid puncture and shearing. Individual teeth are typically broadly triangular, pointed and blade-like.

Piranhas are important ecological components of their native environments. Although largely restricted to lowland drainages, these fish are widespread and inhabit diverse habitats within both lotic and lentic environments. Some piranha species are abundant locally, and multiple species often occur together.

Piranhas occasionally bite and sometimes injure bathers and swimmers. They habitually attack things much larger than themselves. A piranha bite is considered more an act of carelessness than that of misfortune, but piranhas are a considerable nuisance to commercial and sport fishers because they steal bait, mutilate catch, damage nets and other gear, and may bite when handled.

Piranha teeth are often used to make tools and weapons by the indigenous population. Piranhas are also popular as food, although if an individual piranha is caught on a hook or line it may be attacked by other piranhas. Piranhas are commonly consumed by subsistence fishermen and often sold for food in local markets. The total number of piranha species is unknown and contested, and new species continue to be described.

Piranhas can be bought as pets in some areas, but they are illegal in many parts of the United States. So we don’t have any Piranha Fish in facilities. They are also illegal in some other states in the United States.

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