Hot Water Fish


  • Scientific name:  Serrasalmus
  • Common name:  Piranha
  • Aquarium size:  350 liters
  • Temperament:  Aggressive
  • Temperature:  Between 22º and 28ºC
  • pH: Between 5.5 and 7.5
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Length:  25 cms to 30 cms

What are piranhas? Description

The piranha or serrasalmus, are freshwater fish belonging to the family of the characids .

It is one of the most reputable fish around, with its
aggressive temperament and incredibly sharp teeth that cut through anything they bite.

If we take a piranha, it may seem like a harmless fish … nothing can make us suspect that we are dealing with such an aggressive fish.

In the middle of nature, the greatest risk is that they tend to move in very large groups,
attacking their prey in a coordinated way with an insatiable appetite . No matter what they have eaten up to that point, if they have the opportunity to continue eating they will, without a doubt.

Morphology. Characteristics of piranhas

There are several species of piranhas, only a few are usually kept in the aquarium, such as the red piranha.
The main characteristics of piranhas are :


The piranha is a large fish that can measure between 25 and 30 centimeters . In the wild, some specimens can reach up to 40 or 50 centimeters.

It is characterized by its thick head, endowed with a prominent lower jaw and very sharp triangular teeth that give it a terrifying and dangerous image.


Depending on the variety of the piranha, it may have a different coloration.

We can find
piranhas in reddish or silver colors, with the ventral part of their body in yellowish or orange tones.

Some varieties, such as the red piranha,
vary in color as they age . Young specimens are silvery with black dots all over their bodies, which disappear as they age.

In the final stage of his life,
the silver tone turns darker and begins to have a reddish and blue-green hue.

Sexual Dimorphism

The dimorphism or physical difference between female and male is not very marked, but it is evident.

They are distinguished by
the fact that the males have a thicker and more solid head, whereas the females are recognized for having a more rounded body.

Types of Piranhas

Although when we talk about piranhas, we refer to the genus Serrasalmus (as it is the most widespread), there are several genus of piranhas:

  • Pygocentrus
  • Pristobrycon
  • Pygopristis
  • Serrasalmus
  • Catoprion
  • Myleus
  • Myloplus
  • Mylossoma

The two best known types of piranha are the black piranha and the red-bellied piranha or red piranha.

Red piranha

Where do piranhas live? Distribution and habitat

Piranhas are native to the mightiest rivers in South America.

Depending on the varieties, we can find them in one or the other rivers, the best known being the
Amazon and the Orinoco, with their different tributaries.

As for countries,
we can see piranhas in freedom in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia.

They live mainly in the great channels of the rivers, and also in some lakes or lagoons where there is a good vegetation that the piranhas serve as a refuge.

How long do piranhas live

The life expectancy of piranhas will depend on several factors, among which are the species and environmental problems.

in the wild the red piranha (one of the most common in the aquarium) usually lives for about 5 years , while in the aquarium specimens are known that have been able to live up to 30 years.

Aquarium Conditions

Aquarium piranhas need an aquarium of good dimensions , about 350 liters.

As for the quality of the water, it should move in the following parameters:

  • Temperature. Between 22ºC and 28ºC
  • pH. 5.5 to 7.5
  • GH. 8th to 10th

The aquarium should be made up of a sandy bottom, with good vegetation and enough places to hide.

They are fish that do not like strong lighting.

Black piranha

Diet What do piranhas eat?

Piranhas are carnivorous fish. In the aquarium they should be fed with fish, invertebrates and large insects.

The fish that feed them have to be conditioned, to prevent them from passing any type of disease to the piranhas.

The aquarium can also
provide good quality dry food , especially suitable for carnivorous fish.

We must avoid the use of mammalian and poultry meat, because they have lipids that piranhas cannot metabolize, and that in the long run would cause the piranha to get sick.


Piranhas are quite aggressive fish and not very social with other species. Their behavior is hostile and territorial.

In addition, they are famous for their aggressiveness and speed when attacking, which is why they are known as killer piranhas.

Their interaction with other species is difficult, although
if they are not hungry they could accept other members of the same species in the aquarium, as long as the latter are not weak or sick.

In a natural state it is common to hear about their aggressive behavior, there have even been many cases of piranha attack on bathers, especially in cities like Rosario in Argentina.

As usual,
Piranhas do not attack human beings, except for the red-bellied piranha and the black piranha , which can attack if they perceive the presence of blood or excessive movement in the water.

Piranha Compatible Fish

With certain reservations and depending on the personality of the fish, piranhas can be compatible with:


Captive breeding of piranha fish is very difficult, but possible. You need a fairly large aquarium with a capacity of approximately 300 liters of water or more.

The male looks for a place at the bottom of the aquarium, where he digs a hole to deposit the eggs.

The female spawns at night, and can lay between 1,000 and 5,000 eggs of about 2 mm in diameter, yellowish in color.

It is known that it is the moment of spawning, due to the very dark blue, almost black hue that the fish acquire.

The eggs will hatch in 36 to 40 hours.
The male is the one who protects the eggs.

If the eggs are removed from the aquarium, the male will lay again with another female from the group.

The little piranhas will begin to swim freely after six to seven days.

After that,
we must feed them with mosquito larvae and pieces of meat , fish or prawns until they are ready and begin to eat other fish to feed, until they reach their adult size.

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