Piranhas: Friend or foe?
Monday 2 July 2007
The Piranha, often regarded as a brutal, flesh eating fish, has been revealed as a shy and timid creature that does not swim in shoals to hunt, but for its own protection.
Although it is common behaviour for most fish to swim in shoals for protection, until now it was always thought that Red-Bellied Piranhas swam in large groups to form a strong hunting team. This theory has been disproved by research. Piranhas are influenced by a number of factors, including food availability and cover. This means that during the low water season, they have less coverage and are at more risk from predators, so swim in groups for safety.
ZSL’s Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Manager Alison Shaw said:
“We were really pleased to be involved in this project, especially when we were able to show that the vicious reputation of the Piranha is largely based on misunderstanding.”
“We are very proud of our Piranhas at ZSL London Zoo and have recently added a tank to our Clore Rainforest Lookout exhibit.”
A tank of Piranhas from ZSL’s London Zoo will be on display at the London Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition from Monday 2nd July to Thursday 5th July.