Red Belly Piranha is usually found in South America.
By Dileep Thekkethil
BENGALURU: Piranha, the scary fish from sic-fi movies, have now become common in the rivers of Andhra Pradesh, raising concerns about the future of other fishes that live in these waters.
According to a report that appeared in Deccan Chronicle, Red Belly Piranha, which is one of the most aggressive and deadly aquatic creatures, was spotted in the river Godavari, threatening the fishing community as this coldblooded fish feed on other fishes that are less aggressive.
Piranha is a species of fish found in the rivers of South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. Even though the Red Belly Piranha are literally not ‘man eaters’, many cases have been reported from the South American countries about the fish attacking humans. When the piranha fail to find food, they tend to attack humans. One of the most significant characters of the piranha is the manner in which they hunt for food. They move in groups and take less than a minute to eat prey of the size of a cow.
The most dangerous part of a piranha is its razor sharp teeth. One sharp bite of a Red Belly Piranha can tear off the whole skin from finger. Interestingly, Pacu, a close cousin of Red Belly Piranha, is sold in many aquarium stores. Even though this fish is less harmful, if they are allowed to languish in the rivers, they could destroy the whole aquatic biodiversity.
In October 2012, Pacu were found in a supermarket in Hyderabad. A further research on the Internet revealed that many fish farms in Andhra Pradesh breed Pacu and the local name is Roop Chanda. The first ever case of piranha sighting was near Dowleswaram barrage in Rajahmundry last year.
Shaik Salauddin of Deccan Anglers was quoted by Deccan Chronicle saying “After talking to the locals, we came to know that it was quite commonly found in the region and the locals call this fish ‘Roop Chanda’. We also sighted the fish in the Krishna river. I found the fish being sold by a woman at a fish market in Uppal as well.”
Rajiv Mathew, an expert member of bio-diversity board in Hyderabad bought a “Roop Chanda” from the fish market over sheer curiosity but later found it to be the deadly Red Belly Pirahna.
According to him, Pacu is a very close cousin of Red Belly Piranha but less harmful and aggressive. But he cautioned Pacu are notorious for biting off testicles when they are hungry and people venture into their area.