The killer razor-toothed fish was spotted by a shocked angler at Doncaster’s Martinwells Lake yesterday afternoon.
And although the fish was dead and floating on the surface, its discovery has shocked the couple who found it while out on an afternoon stroll.
Davey and Lisa Holmes were enjoying the spring sunshine at the lake, also known as Edlington Brick Pond, when they made the terrifying discovery.
Said Lisa: “My partner is a fisherman and was looking around the edge of the lake when he suddenly spotted this fish floating near one of the pegs.
“He managed to get it out of the water and although he’s a keen angler, he wasn’t sure what type of fish it was straight away.
“But then we started looking at it more closely and saw the teeth we realised it was a pirahna.
“We went home and Googled it and its quite clear its a pirahna. It was quite a shock.
“We couldn’t believe that we’d found a piranha fish. It’s not the kind of thing you expect to find in Doncaster.
“We’ve seen goldfish and terrapins that people have released before, but nothing like that.”
A freshwater fish, pirahnas are usually found in South American rivers, lakes and reservoirs and the Amazon basin and have developed a reputation as one of the world’s most deadly predators.
She added: “We presume that it was a pet that someone no longer wanted and they have gone and dumped it in the lake.
“We don’t know how long it was in there or how long it survived but presumably because they are used to more warmer climates, it wouldn’t have survived in the cold water.”
Known for their sharp teeth and powerful jaws, pirahnas are known to have killed humans – although attacks on people are rare.
Attacks normally take place when the fish are stressed - such as when water levels are lower during the dry season and food is scarce.
Splashing can attract piranhas and for this reason children are more often attacked than adults -.although it it is a myth that they are attracted by blood in the water.
Most piranha attacks on humans only result in minor injuries, typically to the feet or hands, but they are occasionally more serious and can be fatal.
In 2011, a drunk 18-year-old man was attacked and killed in Bolivia, a five-year-old Brazilian girl was attacked and killed by a shoal in 2015 and in 2016 a Brazilian girl died after her grandmother’s boat capsized during a family holiday.
Various stories exist about piranhas, such as how they can lacerate a human body or cattle in seconds and when American President Theodore Roosevelt visited Brazil in 1913, he was shown the power of pirahnas when he went on a hunting expedition through the Amazon Rainforest.
While standing on the bank of the Amazon River, he witnessed a spectacle created by local fishermen. After blocking off part of the river and starving the piranhas for several days, they pushed a cow into the water, where it was quickly torn apart and skeletonized by a school of hungry piranhas.
And although the couple didn’t take the fish home, they have removed it from the lake for safe keeping.
Added Lisa: “It was a bit smelly as it had been in the lake for a while but it was otherwise intact. My partner has said he’d quite like a pirahna skeleton so we’ve left it somewhere safe so we can go back and get it!”
She added: “It was a total shock. We we were laughing about it last night, but its amazing to think that there’s been a pirahna down in that lake.”