Piranha Suitable for Inclusion as an Aquarium Fish

Are you interested in adding piranha to your aquarium and are not sure which type to add? This articles describes a variety of types of piranha and whether they are good aquarium pets.

Where Piranha are Found

Piranhas are found in the Amazon basin, Orinoco and in the river systems of Guyana, Paraguay-Parana and Sao' Francisco. Of the 20 piranha species found in the Amazon, only four to five are dangerous. When a school of piranha is in a feeding frenzy, waters seem to boil and run with blood.

Aquarium piranha have been introduced to the United States and some have been found in the Potomac River and the Lake of the Ozarks. Piranhas have a short life span in these locations due to their intolerance to cold weather.

The Red Piranha as an Aquarium Fish

The piranha serrasalmus nattereri, or red piranha , is what people typically think of when they hear the word piranha. This piranha is typically seen in pet stores and sold for use in aquariums. The red piranha is a gray-brown in color and has red-orange on the under belly and the dorsal.

The red piranha grows to about 10 ½ inches, thus is a smaller piranha. It is difficult to care appropriately for this fish due to its need for specific water specifications. This may be a piranha that new aquarium owners should avoid.

The Black Piranha

The black piranha is actually synonymous with an old white piranha that has grown a darkened color with age. The black piranha has the reputation of being the largest of the piranha and the most dangerous. Found in the Sao Francisco River in Brazil, it grows to about 2 feet and may have 22 to 24 teeth on the ventral keel running along the belly.

The black piranha looks similar in body shape and color to the red piranha. The significant physical difference is the well-developed rays affixed to the adipose fin. Pet stores rarely sell this piranha because of its dangerous nature.

The White Piranha

The white piranha is one of the smaller of the piranha species. It typically grows to be 12 -14 inches in length. The red piranha makes its home in the Amazon and Orinico regions of the world. This fish has a silvery color with a flat body and narrow head that has a hump behind it. It is accented with a black stripe running from its tail to its head. Although the red piranha is commonly found in home aquariums, caution is needed as its' teeth are still dangerous.

The Serrasalmus Ternetzi Piranha

Although small, the serrasalmus ternetzi is a fierce fish to be reckoned with. It typically grows to be 10-12 inches in length, is silver in color and has a blunt head. It makes its home in Brazil in the Rio Parana and is not commonly sold for an aquarium.

The Serrasalmus Hollandi Piranha

The serrasalmus hollandi commonly grows to approximately 6 inches in length. It has an elongated body and narrow head with the characteristic hump behind it. The hollandi is silver with dark patches and characteristic spots. The anal fin is deep red in color. Although the hollandi is a small fish, it is still a dangerous piranha.

The Pacu Piranha

Pacus are closely related to red piranha. The pacu is generally vegetarian but, if food is scarce, consumes meat. The pacu grows to about 10 inches and is gray brown with red-orange on its' under belly. The dorsal area has dark spots. The pacu is an alternative for those want piranhas in their aquarium without the danger.