Genus name: Pygocentrus Nattereri
Also known as: Red-Bellied Piranha, Natterers Piranha
Distribution: South America: Amazon, Orinoco, Parana
Length: up to 12″ (30cm)
Water Temperature: 75-81F (24-27C)
Diet: Worms, insects, fish, meat
Water: soft and slightly acidic
Breeding: Lay eggs
The Red Piranha is an aggressive, predatory fish. Only young Red Piranhas are really suitable for home aquariums, because of the size they grow to. They are often found, and much more suited to, large public aquariums.
The Red Piranha has a bluish grey back, and the belly is a striking red colour, hence it is often called the Red-Bellied Piranha. The flanks are pale brown to olive with numerous shiny spots, and the colour of these varies somewhat, depending to a certain extent on the age of the fish.
In general, the ferocity of the Red Piranha and its relatives has been overstated. They are aggressive, but will usually only attack when they smell blood in the water. However Red Piranha do have extremely sharp teeth and powerful jaws, and are quite capable of stripping even a large animal like a tapir to a skeleton in a matter of minutes.
If you are keeping Red Piranha, it is advisable to feed them before attempting to put your hands in the aquarium. The aquarium will also need to have very frequent water changes, as the fresh meat the Red Piranha eat will affect the water quality quite quickly. Many Red Piranha are fed frozen prawns, and thrive very well on them.
Red Piranha will breed in aquariums. They have been known to lay anywhere from 4000 to 5000 large eggs at a time, which adhere to the plants. The eggs hatch in nine to ten days, and the adult Red Piranha, unlike most other fish, do not attack their own eggs or young.