Scientific Name: Pygocentrus nattereri
At maturity, Red Piranhas can reach a size of 10 to 12 inches. They have flat and round shaped bodies. Their bodies are gray or brown with a red or orange colored belly and dorsal fin. The body and fins will also have dark spots on them. Also, the scales of a Red Piranha might be a silvery reflective color. Red Piranhas, however, are best known for their razor sharp triangular teeth, which allow them to rip through flesh.
The Red Piranha is a hardy fish. It should be kept in water with a pH level of 6.4 to 6.8. The water they live in should have a temperature between 80 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Five to six inches of gravel are suggested to line the bottom of the aquarium. Being one of, if not the most ferocious fish available, great care must be taken when handling the Red Piranha. It will not hesitate to snap on your finger, if given the chance. While some smaller Piranhas such as the Redbellied will accept flakes, for the most part foods should be all meat, including chuncks of meat, fish and other live foods. They can be raised from a young age to eat meat pellets. It has also been reported that young indviduals may eat cheese. Generally, these fish are most attracted to the smell of the food. These fish do well in tanks with plenty of aeration, as they are an active fish. Allowing algae to grow may also help oxygenate the tank.
There is not a lot of data on breeding the Red Piranha in captivity. They are reported to spawn easily, but it is quite difficult to distinguish between males and females. It has also been reported that it may be difficult to find a male and female pair this is willing to mate. When they do breed, Red Piranhas will create a nest at the base of a plant, or in gravel, and will protect the eggs.
According to at least one report Red Piranhas can produce thousands of eggs if the tank is setup properly and they are given the proper amount of space. Because young individuals are difficult to sex one reported technique is to buy at least seven fish, out of the seven there is usually a high chance of obtaining at least one female. After they begin to grow the most dominate male will then become very territorial toward the others in the tank. Even tanks as large as 100 to 150-gallons are usually not enough for all seven, even if they are well fed. If they are left in an overcrowded tank they will become injured or get eaten by the time they get are around 7 to 8 inches in length. By this time separation is extremely important, especially if you plan on breeding. The same report indicated that out of the group the female is usually easy to distinguish. She is usually the smallest and the most compact. One they reach 7 or 8 inches in length only one male and one female should be kept in a tank. The ideal tank setup for breeding includes lots of hiding spaces - these can be made with different items such as driftwood, heavy plastic plants, caves and rocks. Keep water Ph neutral until breeding then bring water Ph to slightly acidic levels. This can be achieved by putting peat moss inside the tank. Temperatures should be maintained between 80 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been reported that best foods to keep them in tiptop condition are raw shrimp, raw bloodied steak, and feeder fish. Feeder fish should only be given once a week or so - too many can be harmful. Live foods help repair tissues. The best live foods for these fish, especially when they are young, are mealworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, black worms and on occasion goldfish and minnows.
Fresh water fish
The Red Piranha, also known as the Red Belly Piranha, is one of the most widely known fish in the world. It is known to be fearsome and aggressive, with razor sharp teeth. They make interesting pets, however, and they will keep any experienced aquarist entertained. This variety of Piranha is the most available in markets.
Red Piranhas are extremely aggressive. If a tankmate is sought, a few casualties should be expected. Red Piranhas can easily kill even the most aggressive Cichlid. Plecos are probably the best possible tankmate for the Red Piranha. If several Red Piranhas are kept together and there is not enough space or food, they will most likely turn on each other. Also, care should be taken when feeding the Red Piranha, as it has been known to bite on fingers and hands which they associate with food. Red Piranhas should be kept in large tanks with plenty of swimming space. There should be plenty of large rocks, and floating plants as well. Some bogwood should be included if possible. The Red Piranha is a nervous fish and is often shy when people approach its tank and may flee and hide. Some individuals will even lie flat on the ground if startled.
The Red Piranha, is found in the Amazon Basin in South America. They are rarely available at pet stores, but most will be able to special order them, if asked.
Diet: Naturally Herbivore, eats plants (will eat smallfish or shrimp)