Piranhas have a new home at Falmouth Marine School

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Students from Falmouth Marine School have been busy catching and moving a shoal of piranha in preparation for a breeding project.

The second year marine biology and ecology students spent the last year accumulating a shoal of piranha and have just finished feeding them a quality diet that has left them in top breeding condition.

The fish have been donated from a range of fishkeepers and businesses from all around Cornwall and were held in a special quarantine tank where their health was closely monitored.

Having recently received a donation of a new filtration unit from Tropical Marine Centre, the students decided to use this in a new aquarium that has been themed to mimic the piranhas' natural habitat of the lower Amazon river.

The aquarium was installed within the purpose built 'wet laboratory' at the Marine School where it sits next to other aquarium filled with species that vary from sharks and lionfish to corals and cuttlefish.

The students finished a final inspection of the health of the fish before they carefully caught them in specially reinforced nets and slowly acclimatised them to their newly established home.

Second year student Amberleigh Bracewell said: "Moving a shoal of piranha was a real once in a lifetime experience. We had to be especially careful as they are one of the few species of fish that will try to bite you even if they jump out of the tank and land on the floor.

"We have a fantastic range of marine species at the college and the breeding programme is superb."

Once settled in the new aquarium, the fish should soon start to spawn and the students will be required to carefully remove the delicate eggs before they hatch. The newly hatched fry will be fed specially prepared foods before they're moved to a larger aquarium where their behaviour and feeding habitats will be studied in a project working with internationally renowned feed manufacturer Zebrafish Management Ltd, based in Hampshire.

Course manager, Craig Baldwin said: "The ability to assess the health of any aquatic organism and be able to provide the correct environmental conditions that will encourage them to breed requires the students to develop a range of academic research and practical husbandry skills. Using a species that has such a bad reputation as the piranha is especially exciting for the staff and students."

If you are interested in studying at Falmouth Marine School visit falmouthmarineschool.ac.uk