The “red-bellied piranha” is probably the best-known resident of the Amazon River not only by aquarists but among the general public.
Information to know? Hollywood films and nature documentaries have given this fish a fearsome reputation, so
It may surprise many people that the red-bellied piranha is one of the best of the many piranha species to keep if you have an aquarium of sufficient size.
However, depending on where you live, you may not be able to own one. Many countries with subtropical and tropical climates have banned their sale.
In the US, 22 states prohibit the ownership of all piranhas with 4 others requiring keepers and fish stores carrying them to have an exotic animal permit.
When I growing up in the US, they were a common sight in fish stores; not a staple like guppies but you would see them as often as something like kissing gouramis.
They disappeared sometime in the 80s as feral populations began establishing themselves in warmer areas of the country.
Where I live now, they are legal to keep and various sizes are sold online. It seems the breed easily in a large tank and all the red-bellies being sold here are captive bred. Juveniles can be kept in a smaller tank, but an adult needs a tank of 300 gallons/1100 liters or so.
The young form groups, but adults can be kept singly or in groups of five or more. Interestingly, you can keep adults with many small, tetra-sized species of fish. Piranhas have no interest in expending the energy to hunt fish much smaller than they are.
Origin: Most of the northern half of South America
Size: 25cm/ 10″, but there are some similarly colored species that grow twice that length.
Temperature: 24-28°C/ 74°-82°F
Depending on the size, bloodworms, earthworms, insects, strips of fish, chopped shrimp, and mussels. They also eat vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
Red-bellies like to have a sand substrate which they need for breeding, but many keepers prefer a substrate-less aquarium to make it easier to clean. Piranhas produce a lot of waste do an oversized filter is s good idea. Plants may be destroyed when these fish are nesting, but driftwood is a good choice to decorate the tank as long as the fish have plenty of swimming room.
Red-bellied piranha breed like sunfish. The male digs a pit into which the female deposits more than 1000 eggs. The male guards the nest and he is sometimes joined by the female in this task. The babies grow at different rates and the larger ones will eat the smaller ones. Decide how many fries you want to grow out and remove them to rearing tanks where you can divide them by size. Red-bellies can breed from 10cm long (4″)