to Like Us!
nattereri were originally
assigned to the
family Characidae which includes tetra varieties. They were later
reclassified to a subfamily of Characidae, the subfamily Serrasalmidae.
Serrasalminae means “serrated salmon family.” This
refers not to the
piranha’s teeth but to the serrated keel running along the
belly of the
Piranhas are native to the South American rivers and can be found
in the Amazon, Orinoco, Guyana, and Sao Francisco river systems.
Piranhas are illegal to own in most the states in the United States
for fear that they will make their way into the wild
and reek havoc on
the ecosystem, not to mention swimmers. This concern is not entirely
unwarranted. In the past, irresponsible hobbyists have released
piranhas into the wild because they have outgrown their tanks. When I
was young, you could buy baby alligators at the local dime store.
Hmmm…, what do you do with them when they get big enough to
neighbor’s dog? Vermont is one of the few states that allow
If you wish to raise piranha, check on their legality with your
state’s Fish and Game Department. Piranhas are sometimes
the U.S. under falsified invoices identifying them as baby pacus which
they bear a striking resemblance to. Be forewarned: If you are caught
in the possession of an illegal piranha you could be facing a hefty
fine or possibly even jail time.
The word piranha conjures up images of a bloodthirsty pack of
savage killers that will strip a fully grow cow down to its skeletal
remains in a matter of minutes. In reality, piranhas are shy, rather
skittish fish. They rather spook easily. Their savage ferocity while
feeding is greatly exaggerated. Studies have shown, in fact, that they
are a benefit to the ecosystems which they inhabit, filling a necessary
spot in the food chain.
In their natural habitat piranhas are just as likely to feed on
insects and worms as they are other fish or animals that stray into
Contrary to popular belief, not all piranhas travel in packs. Black
Piranhas are solitary fish. The Red-bellied piranha, on the other hand,
does hunt in packs. They usually hold back until a single member of the
group initiates the attack. This initiator is commonly referred to as a
scout. All things considered, the piranha is just following his
instinctual behavioral patterns as the top predator in his ecological
It is this instinctual behavior that makes them a prime candidate
for a mono-species aquarium. They are predators and will eat as nature
intended them to. They have the very sharp, serrated teeth and
jaws of a hunting machine.
As fish native to South America, Piranhas prefer slightly acid water
around 6.8 pH with ideal temperatures of 75-80 °F.
are large fish. Depending on the individual species, the
can grow be as large as 18 inches. They will live anywhere from 8-10
years. Though there have been reported cases of them living longer.
Page For Future
Our Guide: Article Usage/Legal Disclaimer