What are Piranhas?
Piranhas are South American fish with razor-sharp teeth and a reputation for feeding frenzies. In fact, piranha means "tooth fish" in the Brazilian language of the Tupi people. However, not all piranha species have a taste for blood; some are vegetarian.
Many different fish are called "piranha," but the number of species is a matter of debate. Based on current data, there are between 40 and 60 different species of piranha in 12 different scientific families. Two species, Pygocentrus and Serrasalmus, are popular as aquarium fish, according to Piranha-Info. The most commonly known species is Pygocentrus natterei, the red-bellied piranha.
Most piranhas don't get any bigger than 2 feet (60 centimeters) long. For example, the red-bellied piranha and the piraya piranha grow to about 20 inches (51 cm) long, while the black spot piranha grows to about 11 inches (28 cm).
All piranhas live in South America in rivers and lakes, and 20 different species are found in the Amazon River. Some piranhas have been found around the world, but these are thought to be pets that were released into waterways. In some U.S. states, it is illegal to transport, purchase, possess or sell piranhas; other states require permits.
Piranhas live in groups called a shoal. It is a popular belief that these fish travel in groups so that they can overwhelm prey in a choreographed feeding frenzy. Scientists, however, think they travel together as a form of protection from predators, according to National Geographic. That's not to say that frenzies never occur. When threatened, the shoal will group together with other shoals to take down the predator.
Most piranhas get a bad rap as terrifying predators that will tear to shreds any flesh that dares dip into its waters. This actually isn't true. Some piranhas are omnivorous and eat more seeds than meat. Some species are vegetarian. A species discovered in 2013, Tometes camunani, for example, lives on river weeds, according to Smithsonian. Others species eat shrimp, crustaceans, worms, carrion and other fish. Attacks on humans are very rare.
The red-bellied piranha is considered one of the more dangerous and aggressive species of piranha. Generally, when red-bellied piranhas are feeding normally, the fish will spread out, and a scout will signal when a food source is found. When alerted, piranhas are very orderly. Some of the fish will take a bite and then move aside so another fish can take a bite. Just one red-bellied piranha can eat around 2.46 grams per day, or around one-eighth its body mass.
Female piranhas lay thousands of eggs at a time in the sand below the water source where they live. The red-bellied piranha female, for example, lays her eggs in a nest that is dug by her mate.
After the male fertilizes the eggs, they attach to plants at the bottom of the water source and hatch within just a few days. Piranhas live up to eight years.
1. Piranhas bark. They make a noise similar to a dog's bark when they're angered or confronting another creature. But they apparently bark more than they bite.
2. The word "piranha", derived from Portuguese, means "fish tooth". Funny, that.
3. Piranha ancestors have lived in South America for millions of years. The modern genus of the fish has been around for an estimated 1.8 million years.
4. When a piranha's tooth breaks off, a new one grows in its place.
5. Some of them are vegetarian. And others are full-on cannibals.
6. The reason piranhas swim around in schools is more from fear than an aggressive hunting tactic.
7. If you leave them (and their eggs) alone, they'll leave you alone.
Here's a video of Piranhas in action: https://www.thenationalnews.com/
Sourced From/More Information:
Images & Article 1: https://www.livescience.com/57963-piranha-facts.html