Amazonian additions give Hartpury’s aquatic collection more bite!

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Hartpury students are getting better acquainted with a species of fish made famous in Hollywood for being fearsome, flesh-eating critters!

The college has welcomed six piranhas to join its ever-expanding aquatics unit and students are rapidly discovering that, contrary to their bad press, these fish are actually rather reclusive types who have no interest in nibbling their fingers! And they are gaining a wealth of invaluable experience working with this unusual species.

Hartpury’s Animal Management students already learn about the different feeding techniques of all the fish within the aquatic unit but they have not experienced anything like the piranhas before, who need to be fed daily.

Hartpury’s Animal Collection Manager, Colin Stevenson, said: “The piranhas have added something completely new and exciting to the aquatic unit. The students have been so enthusiastic about working with them – even if they were a little nervous at the start!

“If the piranhas are allowed to get hungry, they can have a tendency to eat each other, so we are giving them a rich diet of bloodworms and sinking carnivore pellets, which provides protein and variety, as well as replicating how they would ‘hunt’ their food in the wild. We are all now looking forward to watching their progress as they grow.”

As the piranhas grow in size, they will be moved to larger tanks to ensure they have lots of space to move around, and each tank will resemble the environment the piranhas would live in while in the Amazon – dark, gloomy and plenty of hiding spots being the order of the day!

The Animal Management students complete duties in all areas of the animal units, giving them an insight and understanding to the management required when looking after different species. These duties within the aquatic unit include the feeding and monitoring of the tanks to ensure that each species is given the right care specific to its needs.

Maddie Borrill, 17, a BTEC Level 3 Diploma Animal Management student from Wiltshire, said: “Working with the piranhas is a really great way to see how they grow and adapt. They are very different to the other fish we have here, so it is great to use them for comparisons.”

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