Red-bellied piranha

Aquarium fish: Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
Size: 30 cm
Origin: South America
Water temperature: 24-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 200 l

Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) – freshwater, predatory fish of the piranha family (Serrasalmidae). It is considered the most dangerous piranha. Also caught locally as a consumption fish.


The species is native to South America. It lives in the basins of the Amazon, Parana, Essequibo, Uruguay rivers.

They can be found in rivers, streams, lakes or in flooded forest areas. Especially numerous among the Pantanal wetlands in southwestern Brazil.

Characteristics and disposition

In nature, they reach up to 33 cm in length and about 4 kg in weight. The lower jaw has large, sharp teeth that allow you to cut off large pieces of wood like a knife. The upper jaw has very sharp, though smaller, teeth.

Virtually indistinguishable gender . The males are slightly smaller, the edge of their abdomen from the front resembles the letter V (in females U ). The lower body of these fish is rusty orange, while the back is silver-gray. The dorsal and fatty fins are black. During the spawning period, their body takes on a dark, blue-black color.

There is also a variety with a yellow belly. In nature, fish are especially dangerous in times of drought. Under normal circumstances, they are rather skittish and timid. In the aquarium, they must be well fed. The hungry are aggressive and can attack each other.

Exercise caution when trapping. It is best to use a wire mesh for this. A shoal species. Recommended for the aquarium min. 4 pcs

Nutrition and feeding


In their natural environment, in addition to other fish, they also eat insects, crustaceans, plant matter and even small reptiles. In the aquarium, they are reluctant to eat other foods. The most suitable food for them is live or dead fish. The diet can be supplemented with pieces of poultry, beef, beef hearts, large worms, etc.


For a small group of young fish, a 200-liter tank with sandy soil and lush vegetation is enough.

An adult herd, however, requires a correspondingly larger aquarium by min. 200 cm long . We can use branches and roots for decoration. Fish need a lot of free space to swim. The light is best muffled.

If kept in such conditions, they will be more visible and active. They can be kept with other species of piranha. However, it should be remembered that there is always a risk of aggression among fish of this species. Injured, weak fish can be the target and prey of stronger fish. Some aquarists successfully keep piranhas with other fish, e.g.

with large armors  or even small neon lights . However, it is not recommended and although they will live in harmony for a long time, unfortunately they can be eaten at any time.


Breeding piranhas at home is difficult, but not impossible . You will need a large aquarium with dimensions of min. 180x60x60 cm.

It is best to buy a flock of these fish, e.g. 6 of which, with a bit of luck, a pair will be selected. It stays away from the rest. During the mating season, the male prepares bottom holes where the female lays approx. 300-400 transparent, yellowish eggs 1.5 mm in diameter.

The larvae hatch after 36 hours. During this time, it is best to transfer them to a separate tank, e.g. using a suction cup. After 7 days, the fry begin to swim freely. At the beginning, we provide brine shrimp larvae, then chopped brine shrimp, zooplateletons and fry of beautiful beasts.

When the fish reach 1.5 – 2 cm, they begin to attack each other. This can be avoided by sizing them and feeding them regularly.


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