Pet Piranha Fish Aquarium Guide & Community – Habitat & Care Guide

by moderator on December 28, 2013

The piranha has the reputation of being a “blood thirsty killer” but that’s not totally true. Most people don’t know how timid these fish actually are. Only when in large schooling numbers can they do this “blood thirsty” killing.

The Red Belly Piranha or the Pyocentrus nattereri is the most commonly known piranha species that can get up to 16 inches long.

piranha fish

The Pyocentrus nattereri comes from South American rivers like the Amazon River, Rio Negro, Rio Paraguay and many other rivers and actually some of these species have been found in some manmade lakes. People can find this fish species all over parts of South America. Check out guide on different piranha species and types here.

Red Belly Piranha Body Characteristics

The Red Belly Piranha has quite a few body characteristics that can change as the fish gets older, but here are a few that are consistent. This fish species have very powerful, sharp jaws and before they get 3-4 inches long in width their eyes are camouflaged black. After they get 3-4 inches long in width their eyes turn red and when this fish species gets older their bright belly color becomes black or grayish. Their body color can be silver, gold, or black. The upper body has shiny silvery spots. These fish have a blue-like tail and it can also swim very fast over short distances. This fish has a convex head shape like other piranha species.

Piranhas In Captivity of Aquariums

This type of piranha likes its water temperature to be between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Their natural habitat are the rivers of South America. They are a total carnivores and eat a lot of meat. These fish like things such as gold fish, rosy reds, minnows, cod, salmon, catfish, smelt tuna fish, krill, shrimp, mussels, fish flakes, mammals, meat/organs.  However, piranhas aren’t what some people think. These fish are not vicious killers. They are actually quite timid.  They will attack if you do something to provoke them, such as stepping on their eggs.  There have not been very many documented piranha attacks in the wild and the ones that have been reported are usually greatly exaggerated.

Most Common Questions Asked:

What Size Aquarium is Needed for Piranhas?

These fish take more aquarium space than most would think. You need a 75 gallon aquarium to house 3 red bellied piranhas and a 125 will house 5 fish. These are bare minimum sizes too remember. A lot of aquarium owners have tanks larger than this.. but these are good minimum numbers to be aware of. What usually happens when they find out how much work is involved of buying a tank that large and what supplies will cost… most beginners just shy away. Visit Thread..

Water Temperature Needed for Piranha Aquarium Setup?

piranhaPiranhas are tropical habitat fish and needs temps between 75-82 F. Piranhas are very adaptable to water conditions but water temp is a pretty big deal when it comes to these fish. If you need to buy a heater for your tank, figure on 5 watts of energy needed to heat one gallon of aquarium water. Read more..

Food & Nutrition for Pet Piranhas?

These fish are strictly carnivores and eat meat. Live food is not a necessity all the time but your fish will love it. It seems years ago when aquarists were feeding their carnivorous fish these “feeder fish” like goldfish.. their fish were getting sick from the feedings. Turns out a lot of these fish designed to be food for other fish (feeder fish) were full of diseases. So know you have to be cautious on your feeder fish you are feeding to your fish. Many find that insects and such are almost as valuable as other fish as far as protein and nutritional value. Foods include the following – Live Foods, Fish/Shrimp, Mammals, Insects, Worms, Frozen Foods, Frozen cubes, Frozen Bait fish, Pellets/Sticks/Flake Food, Freeze Dried Foods, Fish/Shrimp, Meaty Foods:  Visit this thread..

How Many Piranhas in One Aquarium Tank at Once?

An adult or full size piranha can easily grow to a foot long and if you figure on 1 inch of fish demanding 10 gallons of water.. that gives you 3 fish for your 75 gallon tank. If you were only holding the fish in their youth though, you could keep a lot more at once. Lots of variables come into play when keeping juveniles together. go to this page..

Another variable that comes into play with owning piranhas is the fact of “evening” out your school. Piranhas are very picky with their schooling numbers and if you have too little or too many fish things will go bad. They are commonly known to kill each other when issues occur with their schools. You need to extensively research on how to school your piranhas so their habitat is large enough and their school is satisfactory for them.

Piranhas Eating Each Other Problem?!

Somewhat of a common problem is piranhas eating other piranhas. It seems crazy to eat their own kind but this is linked to variables that are revolved around living variables. Aspects like too much light on the tank or not enough fish in their school.. or not being fed enough or properly nutrition and so forth. Read the thread that is devoted to this click here.


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