Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park – 4

Red-bellied piranha

Details? Look back to the beginning.

One of the advantages to a public aquarium is the opportunity to show animal and plant species too dangerous or too invasive to risk general importation. The red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) is both, but not quite for the reasons one would expect. While legal for individuals to own in states with cold winters, possessing or transporting red-bellies in Texas understandably tends to rub authorities the wrong way. Contrary to popular expectations, the danger of some irresponsible fishkeeper letting piranha loose in Texas waterways isn’t the threat to humans. In their native habitats in the Amazon and Orinoco river networks, they tend to avoid humans. However, as fish-eaters, they’d strip out everything from minnows to alligator gar, and ultimately would leave nothing in our streams, rivers, and reservoirs besides piranha. Better to view them in circumstances such as these, where they aren’t going to get out due to carelessness or neglect.

Red-bellied piranha

Red-bellied piranha

On the other scale, the other big advantage to a public aquarium is in viewing species too rare or high-maintenance to justify private ownership. For example, the Children’s Museum has a very nice collection of Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri), a species both extremely protected and not suitable for general fishkeeping. Considering the size of adult lungfish, few private aquarists could afford a tank large enough to give one room, much less the three at the Children’s Aquarium. Get three of them together, and you practically have a party.

Australian lungfish

Australian lungfish

More to follow….

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