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Red Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)

Photo of: Red Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)

Scientific Name(s): Pygocentrus nattereri, Pygocentrus ternetzi


Common Name(s): Red Bellied Piranha, Piranha


Family: Characidae


Species Type: Characins (Tetras)


Maximum Size: 12 inches


Life Span: 12 years


Natural Habitat: South American rivers


Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons


Tank Region: All over


Possible Tank Mates: The Piranha is best left to a species only tank.


Description: These are highly aggressive fish with razor sharp teeth. Do not hand feed these fish as a quick trip to the hospital may be the result. If kept with other fish, the piranha must be fed a steady supply of food. A large tank is required with some surface plants and hiding places amongst driftwood. A strong filter is recommended as the high protein diet of the piranha produces a large amount of w


Temperature Range: 73°F - 81°F



pH Range: 5.5 - 7.5

pH 5.0
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pH 7.0
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pH 9.0


Hardness Range: 15° - 20°



Breeding Information: Very difficult. A huge tank is required. Lower the water level and then raise it gradually with new water, prefferably using a watering can or spray bar to simulate rain. The male will defend the eggs and the female should be removed within 24 hours. Young piranhas must be fed sparingly as they often eat too much.


Sexing Information: Sexing is difficult but females tend to have more yellow on the underbelly.


Diet: Carnivorous - The Red Bellied Piranha will only accept meat. Flakes are rarely touched and do not provide the correct nutrition. Earthworms and beef heart will also be eaten.


Temperament: Very aggressive with razor sharp teeth. The piranha can and does eat just about anything.


Common Diseases: None specific to species.


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Characins (Tetras)


Keith Pardee

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