Thames 'piranha' not a piranha shocker

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The 'killer piranha' caught in the Thames by an angler this week has been misidentified Practical Fishkeeping can reveal.

Marlow fisherman Richard Salmon told the Sun that he landed the 4"/10cm fish while fishing for chub opposite the famous Compleat Angler hotel on the Thames in Buckinghamshire.

Salmon told the paper, "I didn't expect to come eye to eye with a piranha. I normally fish for pike so I'm used to dealing with sharp teeth, but it was very unnerving unhooking it. I took it home so I could prove to my pals I caught a piranha from the Thames."

However, photographs on the Sun website of the fish Salmon claims to have hooked do not show a Red-bellied piranha, Pygocentrus nattereri, at all.

Instead they appear to show a silver dollar, probably Metynnis hypsauchen a smaller largely vegetarian relative of the feared predator.

These fish are popular aquarium specimens rarely growing much more than 15cm. They come from the Amazon basin in South America and would be unable to survive long in the UK being more used to temperatures around 25C than those of the cool Thames in summer.

The fish was doubtless another unwanted pet, illegally dumped into the river when it out grew its tank or the owners simply became bored with it.

Practical Fishkeeping advises all fishkeepers to carefully consider all new fish purchases and to never illegally release any unwanted aquarium fish into the wild.