Her reputation as a murderer persists. At home in the aquarium, piranhas are peaceful - provided the animals don't hang on their skin.
Their brains are as small as a pin - and yet piranhas are careful, caring and clever. The strong underbite suggests a tendency to discontent. At second glance, however, its dark gray, gently glittering body enchants.
Expert: Piranhas are not murderous
They are impressive fish, the piranhas in the large show aquarium of the Berlin zoo. Marco Hasselmann, freshwater district keeper at the Berlin Aquarium, speaks with almost fatherly enthusiasm about the species of fish from the Sägesalmler family: “Piranhas are great. It's a shame that they are still considered the murder boy par excellence - the myth persists, even though they are not murderous. " The fish have a fantastic smell that other fish can hardly beat. Living together in groups works great with a clear hierarchy.
The Berlin Aquarium, next to the Zoological Garden, is one of the most species-rich aquariums in the world. In addition to fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects live in the historic building. more
Alive in the wild, piranhas do their job as a kind of health police. Because like the vultures on land, the piranhas in the water eat the carrion. In this way they prevent rot and the development of dangerous germs. You yourself are endowed with a robust immune system. Marco Hasselmann is always amazed: Even deep wounds heal in a very short time with a piranha. If a whole piece of meat is missing due to a cannibalistic bite from a buddy, it will grow back in no time.
Not everyone should keep piranhas in the aquarium
Is it possible to keep these animals in the home aquarium? If you are only interested in the horror factor, you should stay away from it. However, if you have experience as an aquarist, you can enjoy the fish at home. Animal owners should know about the special keeping conditions for piranhas and seek appropriate advice, says Antje Schreiber from the Central Association of Zoological Companies.
The not insignificant requirements include sufficiently large tanks and very good filter systems. "In no case should you give in to the temptation to buy the fast-growing fish if you don't have a spacious aquarium," warns Wolfgang Staeck from the Association of German Associations for Aquarium and Terrarium Studies. In a year, the animals can be more than 15 centimeters long.
What do piranhas cost and how many do you need?
Piranhas aren't cheap: they cost about 12 to 15 times as much as goldfish or guppies. "Since they are shoals, at least five fish should be kept together," explains Frank Schäfer, company biologist at "Aquarium Glaser". The company supplies wholesalers, scientific institutes and show aquariums.
In his experience, only really interested aquarists are concerned with keeping piranhas. “They don't just walk into a shop either,” says Schäfer. The fish are usually ordered in advance. The piranhas, which are usually in demand in Europe, are bred in Central Europe or in Hong Kong.
The aquarium must hold 400 liters or more
A spacious aquarium should hold at least 400 liters and the side length should be more than 150 centimeters. "As soon as Sägesalmler suffer from tightness in aquariums that are too small, problems arise because of their aggressiveness," warns Wolfgang Staeck. When setting up the aquarium, it should also be noted that piranhas are very scared, shoot around uncontrollably in a panic and can injure themselves as a result.
The decoration of the aquarium must also be well thought out: it should not only structure the swimming area in such a way that each fish can separate its place from its fellow species, but also offer the sensitive fish places of refuge and suitable hiding places. These requirements are met by large roots and branches made from bog wood, which is available from accessory stores. In some places you can also plant large and robust Echinodorus or Anubias species in the basin, advises Staeck.
Feed piranhas with fish, meat and ready-made food
And what does the piranha like to eat? Fresh fish is served in the Berlin Aquarium, with a size of around 30 centimeters so that the teeth have something to saw. "The majority of piranhas actually have a wide range of food that includes both animal and vegetable components," says Staeck. When it comes to keeping them in the aquarium, this means that piranhas should not only be fed with meat and fish, but also with industrially produced food with a vegetable content.
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| Updated: October 1, 2019