Red-Bellied Piranha

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

Jump to: navigation , search
Pygocentrus nattereri - Kner, 1858
Red-Bellied Piranha

Despite its swashbuckling reputation, not the most appealing aquarium fish.


Sale of this piranha is restricted in many states, because of its propensity to eat anything living and the fear that they will impact native species.

Although common in many pet stores, piranhas fail to live up to all the excitement and can be a rather boring fish to keep. It's success as a predator comes from being able to hover motionless ("lurking") for long periods of time, then dashing with an explosion of speed when a victim swims within range.

The Red-bellied Piranha is considered by some to be the best choice for aquarists, as it is less aggressive than other species. However, it is definitely not suited for the community aquarium.

Family: Characidae

Other common name(s):

  • Red Piranha

Native range:

Habitat: Jungle streams and rivers. In the aquarium, they like to have hiding places among plants and driftwood.

Maximum length: 33 cm (13 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 265 L (70 gal)

Water: Freshwater 23 °C (73 °F) - 27 °C (81 °F)

General swimming level: Mid-level.


Carnivore. In nature it is crepuscular, feeding at dawn and dusk. Young fish are more active during daylight hours, mature adults during darkness.

Aquarium Compatibility

Other piranhas may be the best choice, as most other aquarium species are vulnerable to being attacked and killed. Some piranha enthusiasts recommend large Plecostomus catfish, which have heavy armor and tough dispositions, but these can also fall victim to a piranha.

Special Care

Has very sharp teeth and powerful jaws. Careless aquarists can receive painful bites. Handle with caution.

Because they are messy eaters and create large amounts of waste, piranhas require extra-heavy filtration—as do all large, predatory fishes.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: KW