Piranhas – Why the Bad Rap?
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See Black Piranha, Serrasalmus rhombeus also. Similar info applies.
Des Moines Law. Some
years ago our Des Moines City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the
possession of Piranhas in
What’s the penalty? The Des Moines animal control officer (or the cops) comes to your house and confiscates the Piranhas. No fine. No time. Just confiscation. They will, however, make you very uncomfortable -- including writing you a ticket, making you appear in court, and charging you for court costs. Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to waste your time. Or your dime. Been there, done that.
LA Very pretty female red-breasted piranha -- little red on chest.
Many warm water states (
Look Alikes. So how come we read a story in the paper every year (it could be the same story) saying that somebody caught a Piranha in the Des Moines River (usually using doughball for bait)? These people caught a Pacú – a fruit-eating cousin of the sharp-toothed Piranha. Quite often the story refers to “Pacu” in the text but uses “Piranha” in the headline – much more exciting. Let’s face it, a story about a fish that eats bananas has much less romance. And there’s the DNR guy nodding his head saying, “Yup, that’s the biggest dang peeranya I ever saw.” Never saw would be more correct. He could find his bass with both hands but not his peeranyas.
More Pacú Info. Pacús grow to more than 40 pounds where they come from. They make a good sport fish and taste pretty good. If you can read Portuguese, you can find some excellent Pacú recipes. You can also call them pacus without the ú unless your nephew lives in Brasil. But let’s get back to piranhas or pirañas or Caribes.
Movies. Last movie we saw about Piranhas had them getting into a resort lake and eating a bunch of kids. The movie before that, they mutated wings and flew up river to spawn and pretty much take over the countryside. (These were not documentaries.) Unfortunately, the Piranhas died in the end. We hate sad movies.
Caribes. The original Caribes were a cannibal tribe that snacked on their neighbors. No wonder that the toothy Piranhas are called “Caribes” in many of the areas where they grow. They too snack on their finny neighbors. However, Piranhas rarely crawl up on the bank and drag a cow into the water to devour at their leisure. Basically, Piranhas eat fish – usually cichlids – and usually just parts of the fish. Do not feed them parts of cows.
Basic Tetras. Tetras (or Characins) have teeth and an adipose fin – the fatty fin between their dorsal fin and their tail. (Check out your neon tetras.) Piranhas are just big tetras that like to snack on fish. If you forget to feed them, they snack on each other. If you can’t afford to feed them cichlids, they love goldfishes. They also learn to eat pellets -- even the little guys.
Foods. Get that hamburger and bologna away from your fish tank. Our 98.6o bodies can digest animal fat. Fish have trouble with indigestible blobs of lard and tallow. They pass thru to make a scum on the surface of your water and feed the bacteria in your tank. Give your Piranhas fish and frozen foods. Small Piranhas readily eat flake foods. And they literally inhale cichlid pellets. They get fat bellies fast on pellets.
You can’t ask for more than that from a food fish. Give yours a good “look see” before feeding them to your Piranha. Most are kept under very crowded conditions. The average feeder tank stresses goldfishes and encourages diseases. Piranha gastric juices dissolve most diseases IF your Piranha eats ALL the feeder goldfishes. Isolate feeders in a separate tank from your Piranha until feeding time.
Fast Healers. You will not believe the recuperative powers of piranhas. They can survive a bite out of their back that would kill your average office worker -- even the ones used to backbiting. They also re-grow their fins if separated from the rascal that snacked it off in the first place. Wounded piranhas are considered dinner by their tank mates.
Other Factoids. Piranhas
quickly grow to eight inches. They
live over 15 years and exceed a foot in length.
They will bite if pestered. It
will take a Piranha 60-90 days to eat you.
Small ones take longer. They
will not survive in the wild in our neck of the woods.
Michelle Shepherd, Illinois, October 18, 2010
A: Thanks. I added your report to my red belly piranha page. LA
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