Hot Water Fish

Red Piranha

  • Scientific name: Serrasalmus nattereri or Pygocentrus natteri
  • Common Name: Red Piranha
  • Aquarium size: 350 liters
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 24ºC to 27ºC
  • pH: 5.5 to 7.5
  • Diet: Carnivora
  • Length: 30 centimeters

Description

The Red Piranha or Serrasalmus nattereri (also called Pygocentrus natteri from its Latin synonym) is part of the Carácidos family . It is one of the fish with the worst reputation that exists , much of it we owe to the cinema and television, which have been in charge of showing us the Red Piranha as a killer fish.
Perhaps also the origin of his image is in his name. The origin of the word “piranha” is in Guaraní (a language spoken in the place of origin of piranhas), in which pira, would be a fish and añá, would be an evil element or devil.
Another interpretation would be tooth-fish, a somewhat more benevolent meaning.
It is not as dangerous as it may seem at first,and their attacks are usually directed at injured or bleeding animals.
Piranha fishermen are very careful not to get near their sharp teeth, which cut like blades.
In this article I will try to reveal all the secrets of piranhas, as well as their suitability to keep in an aquarium.

Morphology

It is a fish that measures between 25 and 30 centimeters. The most striking feature is its thick head, endowed with a prominent and raised lower jaw, which sometimes shows the tips of triangular teeth, sharp as blades in a terminal position.
They have a fairly set back dorsal fin and an anal fin separated from the caudal fin by the caudal peduncle.
The sexual dimorphism is not very marked, it is limited to a male with a more solid head, and a female with a more rounded body than males.

Piranha coloring

The red Piranha in its juvenile state is silver in color, with black dots that dot its entire body, which they lose as they age.
They are called Red Piranhas because, in its adult stage, the ventral part of the fish acquires a deep red hue.
The silver tone becomes darker and can give way to a more greenish or bluish-green hue that varies according to each specimen. The iris of the eyes acquires an intense orange color.

Distribution and habitat

Its place of origin is in the basins of the Amazon River as it passes through Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. It is also possible to spot red piranhas in the Essequiblo river and the Paraná river.
Its habitat is the main river channels and their smaller tributaries, as well as some lakes caused by the flood, as long as there is good vegetation to serve as protection.

Aquarium conditions

To breed piranhas in captivity an aquarium of about 350 liters is needed, in which we must maintain a temperature between 24ºC and 27ºC, with a pH of between 5.5 and 7.5.
It is convenient that the aquarium is well covered and out of the reach of children, to avoid any undesirable accident.
A good aquarium for the red piranha should maintain a substrate based on sand or fine gravel, to which it is convenient to add good vegetation.
Piranhas appreciate having shelters to protect themselves , they are rather shy and reject very intense lighting.

Filter types, brands and filter materials

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Diet

They are basically carnivorous fish, in the aquarium you have to keep them well fed, otherwise we want to attend scenes of cannibalism.
They can attack sick or weak fish and bite the fins of larger fish, but they rarely attack live animals that come into contact with water.

What do piranhas eat?

The diet should consist of live fish, previously conditioned to avoid any type of infection, all types of aquatic invertebrates, raw meat and large insects. This rather carnivorous diet can be supplemented with nuts, seeds and fruits.
The youngest specimens can be offered minced worms and prawns.
For raw meat, mammals and poultry meats should be avoided, as they contain lipids that cannot be metabolized by piranhas.
These lipids will cause excess fat deposits and organ degeneration.

Everything you need to maintain your aquarium

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Behavior and compatibility

They are gregarious fish that like to swim in groups, so it is advisable to introduce at least 5 specimens in the aquarium, to maintain a low stress level.

Fish compatible with the Red Piranha

It is not recommended to put it in a community aquarium, any other smaller fish is a potential prey.
With certain reservations and depending on the personality of the fish, piranhas can be compatible with:

  • Cleaner fish
  • Oscar Fish
  • Snail Apple

Reproduction

Its reproduction has been achieved on rare occasions, but it is possible.
If we want to reproduce the red piranha in captivity, we need an aquarium of about 300 liters or more.
We will know that the moment of spawning has arrived, because the fish acquire a very dark blue hue, almost black.
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.
The eggs will hatch in 36 to 40 hours. The male is the one who protects the spawn.
As a curiosity, if the eggs are extracted from the aquarium, the male will lay again with another female of the group.
The fry will begin to swim freely after six to seven days , in which they feed on the yolk sac. Then we will have to feed them with brine shrimp, mosquito larvae and small pieces of meat, fish or prawns.

Tips

The best advice that can be given to an aquarist who wants to breed piranhas at home is to exercise extreme caution.
To feed them it is necessary to get hold of long enough tweezers, to offer them food, we must not put our hands in the water with food, if we do not want to be the victim of some unpleasant accident.
They are very resistant and easy to breed fish.

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