The piranha – which means “toothed fish” in
the language of a native Amazon tribe – has an exaggerated
reputation as an aggressive killer.
Although a school of piranha can be ferocious and devour
prey quickly, piranhas serve as the Amazon River’s “cleanup
crew.” They typically eat sick, injured, or dead animals,
and rarely go after healthy ones.
About 20 species of piranha inhabit the Amazon River basin.
Long Island Aquarium’s Piranha exhibit is home to
the red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) – the
most widely distributed species in the Amazon and Orinoco
Amazing, but true
While piranhas have the reputation of aggressive man-eaters,
this exhibit is actually cleaned from the inside by an
Aquarium Aquarist. The piranhas are more
afraid of him than he is of them!