Museum myth-busting

Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Issy Livingstone (9), of Temuka, points at the two red belly piranhas in a glass tank at Otago Museum yesterday.

Two of the piranhas, on loan from a school of about 40 at the National Aquarium in Napier, have been swimming in a tank at Otago Museum since the first day of the school holidays.

Otago Museum living environments co-ordinator Murray McGuigan said the museum had two more talks that debunked the myths about the naturally shy fish, from the Amazonian Basin in South America.

Hollywood films wrongly portrayed the fish as a fearsome killer. Piranhas were scavengers and did not hunt in packs and would skeletonise a bathing cattle beast only if starved, he said.

The final two "Tropical horrors!" talks, which sorted fact from fiction, were today and Sunday, he said.

The piranhas were fed a diet of meat and fish and had not feasted on any of the small neon tetra fish that shared their tank, so the piranhas had settled in their new surroundings, Mr McGuigan said.

- Shawn McAvinue.


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