Aquarium bosses aren’t looking forward to the moment this little lot starting teething — 500 baby PIRANHAS.
There has been a baby boom at Deep Sea World in North Queensferry, Fife, thanks to just two breeding pairs of red bellied piranhas.
The tiny terrors – just a few millimetres long – all hatched out over the last few weeks and now aquarists are caring for them in a special nursery tank.
Deep Sea World’s Aisling Thornton said: ”It’s quite unusual to be able to successfully breed piranhas in captivity and we’re all delighted with how the babies are progressing.
”We decided to remove them from the main shoal for their own safety but, if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to reunite them with their parents within the next few months.”
The piranha, or cannibal fish, common throughout the Amazon, is among the most famous and 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 piranha spend their time feeding and hiding amongst the weeds, joining a shoal once they attain a length of around five centimetres.