alexa Safety in numbers? Shoaling behaviour of the Amazonian red-bellied piranha
Agri and Aquaculture

Agri and Aquaculture

Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal

Author(s): Helder Queiroz

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Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) shoals have a fearsome reputation. However, the variety and abundance of piranha predators in the flooded forests of the Amazon in which they live indicate that an important reason for shoal formation may be predator defence. Experiments using wild-caught piranhas supported the hypothesis that individual perception of risk, as revealed by elevated ventilatory frequency (opercular rate), is greater in small shoals. Moreover, exposure to a simulated predator attack by a model cormorant demonstrated that resting opercular rates are regained more quickly by piranhas in shoals of eight than they are in shoals of two. Together, these results show that shoaling has a cover-seeking function in this species.

This article was published in Biology Letters and referenced in Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal

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