Red Bellied Piranha

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Species group:

Other common names: Red-Belly Piranha; Red Piranha; Natterer’s Piranha; Caribe

Scientific name: Pygocentrus nattereri

The basics:
The Red Bellied Piranha is native to the Amazon River Basin in South America. They usually feed in large shoals (they swim in the same direction), and are voracious feeders of other fish, insects, crustaceans and even larger mammals.

Red Bellied Piranhas have a glowing red chin, belly and caudal fin, and it appears as if they are swimming over a neon sign. Their sides shine due to gold and silver spotting; their scales are gray-brown. Adults of this species have red eyes. Their short jaws are very powerful, lined with razor sharp teeth, which helps them fight much larger fish. The coloration is gray dorsally and reddish-orange ventrally; thus, the name “red belly.” Their flanks have a creamy brown ground color extending up to the dorsal part of the head, snout, lower jaws, and caudal fin. The dorsal and adipose fins are black.

10-12 inches

The Red Bellied Piranha is infamous for being aggressive and dangerous like any other Piranha. They are, however, nervous and shy, sometimes skittish, in comparison to other Piranhas. They may eat smaller fish in the aquarium and attack others irrespective of size, especially if injured or struggling in the water. These fish have a very good sense of hearing because of a well developed lateral line system, i.e., a special line of sensors down the sides of the their bodies. This helps them find struggling prey in dark waters.

The ideal tank for this species is at least 100 gallons. This species is usually kept in schools. The tank has to be provided with plenty of bogwood, and a few robust and plastic plants. Heavy duty filtration is a necessity.

73.00-82.00 °F


71.400-142.800 mg/L

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