This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!
That’s different, of course, than the Redhair Piranha, in case you were wondering.
It’s been awhile since we’ve done a post sharing some SciArt for #SundayFishSketch, but we’re glad to be back at it with this wonderful artwork from Ichthyologist Rene Martin depicting such a fascinating, legend inducing, fish.
When it comes to this particular species, much about it is up for debate—including its status as a species. As far as its range is concerned, it’s possible they are entirely confined to the rapids and deep zones of rivers in Guyana and that records of other locations may be of other species. Officially, however, they have been documented in the Amazon, Orinoco, and Arguia rivers (among others) in Guyana, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and several other South American countries. Confusing, right?
Now, if you’re the average person reading this, you’re probably just waiting for me to get to what piranhas are most known for—their dancing skills. Just kidding, obviously. What I really mean is their dental hygiene regimen. Look at those pearly whites!
All kidding aside, piranhas need no introduction being that their teeth and diet have earned them quite the reputation, especially around Hollywood as a super villains aquarium species of choice or as the center of several B-movies.
At up to 42 centimeters long, piranhas are opportunistic—not unlike us—eating just about anything they come across. Not ravenously killing for entertainment and pleasure like crazed maniacs, but eating what they need, when they need. Sometimes that’s small fish, crustaceans, insects, mammals, lizards, and whatever dead thing is floating around. Other times it’s fruit fallen from trees, seeds, and other vegetative matter. This ability to eat such a wide range of meals enables them to survive in a wide variety of habitats (all under water, of course).
During mating season, individual piranhas get just a tad aggressive. This is typically when reports of humans being attacked take place, which only makes sense. However, generally they are a very timid fish.
Interestingly and unfortunately, they are popular in the pet trade (though they don’t make even remotely hospitable tank mates) and are apparently an invasive species in Washington, presumably released pets.
For those who’d like to learn more, here is a video from National Geographic about their impressive bite force.