Animal Encounters

Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!

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Animal Keeper

Animal Keeper Updates

Get a peek behind the scenes of the Aquarium’s Husbandry department. Read their weekly animal updates and get an insider’s look at caring for over 10,000 animals and plants.

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FISHES

Red Piranha

Pygocentrus nattereri

ON EXHIBIT:  Rivers of the World in River Journey

Red Piranha

FUN FACTS

The piranha's fierce reputation is grossly exaggerated. Piranhas are primarily vegetarians for most of the year. They take advantage of the vegetation, fruits and nuts available when the Amazon River rises during the wet season. The river may rise 40 ft (12.2 m) and flood the surrounding forest. During the wet season the natives can swim in the water with no fears of being bitten. When the dry season begins many of the smaller sections of river may dry up to isolated pools. It is then, when food is very scarce, that piranha become predatory. They will devour animals such as snakes, small cattle, capybaras and larger fish. If you have ever seen piranha at the Tennessee Aquarium or on a nature documentary, you may have noticed that you could not see any teeth. Many photos and piranha "props" for horror movies show piranha with their lips removed.


CONSERVATION
Red piranhas are doing well as a species, but their habitat is continually threatened by development.  Removal of rainforests results in siltation and fertilizer runoff from agriculture into waterways, both of which decrease water quality.

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RED PIRANHA WALLPAPER

Piranha

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About This Animal

SIZE: 13.11 in (33.3cm)

RANGE: South America: Amazonas Basin, Paraguay-Parana Basin, northeast Brazilian coastal rivers, Essequibo basin

HABITAT: Rivers, large creeks and oxbow lakes

DIET:  Insects, fishes, small animals, fruits, nuts


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