June 4, 2013
The 15 red bellied piranhas, each measuring around three centimetre in length, were all born in captivity and have now grown large enough to go on public display in the aquarium’s nursery feature.
The little nippers will remain in the nursery until they have grown large enough to be transferred in to the main Amazon freshwater tank.
Blue Reef’s Chris Ireland said: “Piranhas may not be everybody’s favourite fish species but the babies, despite their fearsome reputation, are actually really cute and have beautiful markings.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to depict a very different side of these infamous freshwater fish,” he added.
Found throughout the Amazon, the piranha, or cannibal fish, is among the most famous and most feared inhabitants of the mighty river.
They are reputed to be able to strip the flesh from a cow within minutes. With razor sharp teeth and exceptional jaw strength they can even leave marks on steel.
In the wild piranhas help to keep rivers fresh and healthy by eating animal carcasses. The name piranha comes from the Tupi Indian words ‘pira’ fish and ‘ranha’ teeth.
Only around half of the 35 species of piranha are carnivores, but when trapped in pools and lakes formed by drying rivers in drought periods, meat eating piranhas will attack and eat all that they can find, even resorting to cannibalism if necessary.
During spawning piranhas pair off and prepare a nest which they will defend, just like the breeding behaviour of many bird species.
The female lays clusters of eggs into a bowl shaped nest created in the sediment and the eggs usually hatch within seven days depending on the temperature of the surrounding water.
After the eggs hatch, both parents guard the brood. The young piranhas spend their time feeding and hiding amongst the weeds, joining a shoal once they attain a length of around five centimetres.