Piranha and Other Flesh-Eating Predator Fish of the Amazon
The Infamous Piranha
Piranha is considered one of the world’s most infamous predator fish. Found chiefly in the Amazon Rain Forest, they can also be fished for in other countries including:
- Papua New Guinea
Occasionally, they have been discovered in fresh water in parts of the United States though they are not indigenous to this region.
Piranhas are also eaten in the countries where they can be fished. They live in the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers and many tributaries of these two. They’re typically found in Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Ecuador.
An Aphrodisiac Soup
Sometimes called “donkey castrators” in Brazil, there’s an annual Piranha fishing tournament in Brazil to help clear them from heavily-populated areas. Amazon Indian tribesmen use the jaws as cutting tools or like scissors – Piranha teeth are unbelievably sharp. A simple touch can slice through flesh clear through to the bone. An unusual tip; soup made with the heads is a scientifically-proven Aphrodisiac. Native Indian men have been known to have as many as 25 children following a daily regimen of the soup. Of course, this also means they may have three or more wives.
Piranha Species and Other Predators
There are approximately thirty-five species in the Piranha family though the exact number of species is disputed. Piranhas and their cousins make for an exhilarating fishing experience and fine eating. The Red-Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri), which can be found in aquariums and pet stores, is the most well-known and feared, but not the most dangerous of the Piranhas. A few species are actually herbivorous, but may not necessarily be less dangerous. This is especially true when there is a feeding frenzy, during mating season or if you fall thrashing around in the water. That behavior can also attract other less than desirable predator species. Anacondas, River Pythons, Boas, Eels, and crocodiles are instinctively drawn to a commotion in the water. Even more so if there’s blood in the water, it doesn’t have to be your blood, just the scent, like from cleaning fish, is enough to precipitate a serious situation.
Pacu and Cachama
Pacu (Colossoma macropomum) and its cousin, Cachama (Piaractus brachypomus), are raised commercially in Colombia and Venezuela. Many supermarkets sell them, some while still alive. The fish are usually fatty-fleshed, but tasty. A direct relative of Piranha, Pacu and Cachama are not dangerous unless you fall into the water where they’re being raised during feeding time – then things could get ugly fast. “Pacus will eat anything“, says Matthew Kane of Deep Sea World. Most people think Piranha species are small, but some can get so large you need both hands to pick one up. Mainly they have a vegetarian diet of seeds and fruits that fall into the water from overhanging branches. Species like Pacu and Cachama, can grow to nearly three feet in length and weigh upwards of fifty pounds.
Fishing for Piranha
They’re fun to fish for, fighting like crazy when hooked on cut fish or meaty baits. Noises, thrashing in the water and blood smell in the water attract them. Otherwise they’re quite calm and children can swim or women wash clothes and bathe in waters teeming with the fish. Cattle, horses and other animals crossing a stream or river en masse can often provoke them to attack.
Cut and live baits work best. Piranhas can take a big bite with their triangular, interlocking and notoriously razor-sharp teeth, but hook sizes should be small as their mouths are not particularly wide. They’ll simply snap the meat off the hook if the hook is too large. Once hooked, it’s important to get the fish in quickly. If not, the surrounding fish will attack the hooked one. Have you ever brought up half a fish because a shark bit off the other half while you were reeling it in? Then you get the idea.
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