Piranha??? Or something else!!!
Fish is a good source of animal protein and acceptable to all people of the world. Most of the fishes are useful for human being and aquatic ecosystem. But there are few fish species which are not. There were several fish species introduced into Bangladesh from other countries. Some of them were good and a few were not good for human as well as aquatic ecosystem.
Red bellied Piranha (Scientific name: Pygocentrus nattereri) or in common term “Piranha”, was introduced into Bangladesh from Thailand about eleven years ago, which is freshwater fish. Due to its high growth rate and good taste, this fish had become popular to the people of Bangladesh.
photo source: www.aquariumuniverse.com
Without its red color in belly region, this fish looks like Rupchanda. The red Bellied Piranha is so much dangerous among the species of Piranha. This fish is highly predacious in nature and feeds on small to large fishes and other aquatic animals. It has razor sharp teeth which is also harmful for human. It is now banned in Bangladesh for its dangerous feeding habit.
Red-bellied Pacu (Scientific name: Colossama macropomus ) is commonly known in Bangladesh as “Thai Chanda” , which is a direct relative of the Piranha and looks same without some distinct differences. It is not carnivorous like red-bellied piranha .It has sharp teeth. But it is omnivorous and feeds on small fishes, zooplankton, insects, snails, and decaying plants. It is not harmful for human and aquatic ecosystem.
photo source: www.megafishthailand.com
This two species are closely related to each other as they belong to same sub family (Serrasalmidae). Many people have confusion in making clear identification among these species. Sometimes Red bellied Pacu (Thai Chanda ) is misidentified as Red bellied Piranha. Sometimes People are afraid to see the Thai Chanda, they mistake it is Piranha. So it is so much important to distinguish between Piranha and Thai Chanda.
How to Identify?
Thai chanda grows larger than piranha in its life. It is tough to identify them with their size. Sometimes anyone can identify by studying their feeding habit. But, Thai Chanda does not belong to the meat eating carnivorous Piranha. Major differences, at a glance, are as follows:
Piranha has razor sharp teeth where Thai chanda has square, straight teeth like human teeth .
Piranha has strong and large jaw. In other case, Thai Chanda posses weaker jaw than Piranha. Jaw shape is as like as the following Picture
Piranha is a ferocious meat eating fish and Thai Chanda is a non-harmful omnivorous fish. So awareness must be taken when culturing, catching or buying this type of fishes. It can be happened that we are avoiding something else which we should not!!!
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