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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Tetras > Red-Bellied Piranha
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America



Pygocentrus nattereri



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Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Thomas
I started with 5 RB's in a 30 gallon. One became the dominant feeder, causing 3 of the 5 to get eaten... they started at less than 1/2". The other caught up in size quickly once the other 3 were killed/eaten. Now the two after weeks of nipping at each other live in harmony. I have had them for 6 or 7 Months. 4 months ago they moved into a 90 gallon tank. I have found the only way to add a Pleco is to find one that is a little on the aggressive side and is as large if not bigger than your RB's. Also I have found they do prefer to eat in the dark. They tend not to bother any crabs or lobsters (they tend to be timid around them, until they get use to each other then they just mind their own business.) Feeding as young I started with blood worms and brine shrimp. They did not care for the shrimp... I recommend not even bothering with the shrimp as I am told it does not have much for nutrients anyway. Stick to blood worms and flakes as a daily supplement if you can. In a pinch almost any meaty food will work if you run out of food... even salami... When they get bigger you almost have to feed them live food, regardless of what others may tell you. They will tell you about disease and thing s from other live fish. But when they get to be 4"+ you don't have much choice, unless you want to spend a lot of time feeding and cleaning. My 2 RB's are almost 6" in size (they are growing VERY EQUALLY now) and eat about 100 small Red Comets a week. They also seem to be better natured when they have food at there disposal. I have also found that they will eat anything as big as they are... i.e. in my back yard I have a pond that I can catch 4" to 8" large mouth bass like it is going out of style and they will demolish one if they went a whole day without eating. The only problem is they usually leave the heads on larger fish... biological mess!! get it out! Also it is not wise to feed them wild caught fish when you don't have to... better chance of disease. They will eat pretty much anything though including big frogs seem to be a favorite. Now what about their attitude towards me??? I recommend only getting these fish if you get them as fry or close to and put your hand in the tank as often as possible to get them used to your hand being there...make sure they understand it is not a food source. Also they do better in live planted tank, driftwood is nice too. Last comment never add anything artificial to your tank if possible... My plecos ate the paint right off the ornament and now when may be dying. Also no offense to anyone but the fake stuff looks cheezzzzzy. Once you go real you'll never go back!!! Good luck to all in your aquatic indeavors... any Q's about RB's or anything menbtioned just ask....
From: Blair
my girlfriend got me 3 red-bellied piranha, a 50 gallon tank and equipment for Christmas. I had shown some interest in the hobby before...but not enough to purchase everything. Now I love them and I got a 10 inch catfish with them now I feed them quite a bit so as they won't attack the catfish.
From: Morpheus
I just wanted to share some information about this incredible fish. They are indeed a nervous fish, therefore they must be handle with respect. Their jaws are very strong and can bite trough wood. However, the fish has a personality of it's own and I would say in my personal experience that their intelligence is quite similar to Oscar's. They can be trained to be more calm around people. This can be achieved by gradually exposing them to a part of your home in which people walk more often. They have been bred in captivity. They can also be fed on dry food. I recommend Tetra Jumbo Min. They accept it very well. Goldfish feeders are not good for them unless you have the time to put the gold fish through a quarantine period in which you can make sure that the goldfish do not have parasites such as flukes. This fish can be kept with large cichlids that are aggressive I have had them with Jack Dempseys and they do quite well; this is provided that you feed them every day. If your piranha is used to eating pellets it won't eat other fish in it's tank, unless of course you stop giving it pellets. I have had my Pirhana with goldfish in it's tank for about 8 months in the past. I hope this can help you.

From: Adam
I have had 3 piranha for over 6 months they are about 3 inches long and will eat goldfish half there size or even more than half there size. At first I started feeding them Brine shrimp and ghost shrimp. I have found out that they prefer larger fish for some reason. My piranhas has grown 1 inch since I have got them. I have found that the oscar is the best fish to put with piranhas because they live in the same place and the oscar is close in size. Also an oscar has a spot on the end fin which makes it look like it has 2 heads and if you have ever watched a piranha eat it likes to start at the fin then it will leave the head so it finds the oscar to be no type of food for it. I have also got a firemouth cichlid with my fish which was put there as an experiment a few months ago first sign of tear I will take it out but it seams to survive fine one reason is when it flares its red gills out it scares my other fish. I have my fish in a 30 gallon tank right now because they are already around 3 inches long. Make sure everything in your tank eats well or it can corrupt the environment if the red bellied piranhas do not eat well they will eat your other fish even the oscar if it has to. If you don't feed your oscar right it will mess with your piranhas until they get mad and kill it but will not eat unless they are hungry. Same with any other aggressive fish. Unlike the piranha the oscar does not bite chunks then swallow it will swallow its prey Whole so you may want to make sure your oscar has fish that it can swallow my oscar is pretty mean it will take a half a fish from the piranha and will swallow that half whole. As for the firemouth it eats the left over from the piranha and oscar. Other fish that are capable to be with the pirahna I know this because my friend Randy Morelock has them with his pirahna Convict cichlids, Snakeheads, Some kinds of catfish, and a red eyed puffer fish (the aggresive kind).

From: King
I have a 4yr old adult beautiful, all fins completely intact, deep rich red coloration of the stomach, both eyes, and all his teeth. He wasn't always like that though. I originally started with seven in a 55g(piranhas do well in schools if given enough room and 80% of your piranhas can have a territory to guard)kept them for two yrs, gave 2 to a friend, and eventually winded up with one. Fat Bastard was about 2 1/2yrs old I set up a 40L with 3baby tiger about 1-2in when the biggest oscar (sargent) was slightly smaller than the piranha and I had built up the courage to introduce the two species I placed them in the 55. the oscars are now bigger than the pirhana. But don't get it twisted for one second, that tank belongs to the piranha, every bit of the 55g can be roamed whenever he wants. But for the most part they get along. If redbellies are kept in a stress free or reduced stress environment when they mature they are beautiful fish, they can catch your eyes sitting right nest to a tank full of oscars, peacock bass, manaquense(I don't think I spelled that right)or any pretty tropical fish. For the first two years of my redbellies lives(1-2in) in my tank I kept hand written very blunt signs which said.... I won't tell you literally but the message got across. I read some of the comments on the panic freaky erratic jerky scared nervous behavior of redbellies and for 1yr I was a depressed and frustrated hobbyist because of these traits they have. But if you make the effort when they are young it pays off yrs down the road in more domesticated and calm behavior, better color, more friendly and just plain healthy fish. Please please please please don't let the pirnahas voracious reputation smother this fishes beauty. Believe me it took 4yrs but I get a pleasant reminder every day I walk to my bathroom. One more thing, you must respect this fish for what it is and its capability. I've seen my redbellies easily capture, kill, and eat everything from feederfish to live rats that I fed my 5ft ball python. Thesefish must be respected and watched. On the other hand I've cleaned my 55g for 4yrs and never once removed my redbellies to do it.

From: Brandon
The Piranha has to be one of the most beautiful, interesting, and amazing hunters I've ever seen in a fish tank. I've done different things with fish tanks over the years but have never been REALLY interested in fish. This all changed when I purchased my 20 gallon starter kit, and my two beautiful baby red bellied piranhas. I suggest starting with babies because then you get a full appreciation of the piranha at it's different stages of life, also they are cheaper than adult fish. Soon I will be upgrading to a 60 Gallon and plan to fill the tank with live plant life, such as American Swords, and Val. Americanas. The Piranha is an interesting fish and I wouldn't suggest any other fish.

From: Jay
I have 3 in a 55 gallon, about 4 inches long. Good eater sand very territorial. Only problem is they attack each other when they aren't fed. Other than that I have no problems

From: Shaun
I have 8 Red bellied and they live in a 72 Gal tank, They share the tank with 2 Rams Horn Snails (The ones that Don't have like 200 Babies) Anyhow They are doing fine I feed them about 4 Feeder Fish a Day, I would only feed them Feeder fish if they had a tank them selves(I have a 10 Gal with Feeders in it)I have live plant life I would not get the light weighted plants cause the piranhas will rip them to shreds. Also make little hideouts for them casue they like to have their own space in the tank.

From: Ryan
I have hag alot of different kinds of piranhas but the best and most interesting would be the black piranha[serrasalmus rhombeus] . the black piranha I had would attack anything that moves even the hand that feed him. The black piranha is a very dangerous fish and I don't recommend to mix it with any other fish. My friend put 1 11 inch black piranha with eight red bellies and the next morning there were 4 red belly heads floating and 2 barely breathing. I later sold it for 100$ , but I take it back and I want another one. If anyone knows where to get it or has one please e-mail meP.S. i will trade 4 adult reds for 1 black piranha.

From: Nailah
I have four red-bellies in a 55 gal tank. They tend to be very skittish since it is in the living room and any light, sudden movements, etc. sends them scattering. I feed them goldfish once a week and Krill the rest of the time which they seem to like just fine. In case anyone is looking, you can get both red and black in Maryland (if you are in the northeast) quite easily.







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