12 Types of Piranhas for Your Aquarium

Different types of piranha for aquarium

Piranhas, often surrounded by myths and legends, are captivating creatures that hail from the freshwater basins of South America. There’s more to them than their sharp teeth and aggressive reputation.

This article delves into 12 diverse species of piranha, shedding light on their unique traits and compatibility with home aquariums. 

Whether you’re considering adding a piranha to your tank or simply curious about these fascinating fish, this guide promises a deep dive into their watery world. Let’s begin!

12 Different Types of Piranhas

1. Cariba Piranha (Pygocentrus Cariba)

Cariba Piranha
Image credit: kanakafish / Instagram

The Cariba Piranha, often referred to simply as the Cariba, hails from the waterways of Venezuela and Colombia. Recognizable by its silver body and black spots, this species can grow up to 12 inches in length. 

Their striking appearance is complemented by their aggressive nature, making them a fascinating addition to any aquarium. 

However, due to their size and temperament, they require a spacious tank, preferably upwards of 100 gallons. You may also check out our article on how many fish can fit per gallon as a reference for the proper tank size.

Caribas thrive on a sandy substrate with ample hiding spots. When it comes to diet, they have a preference for meaty foods, including fish and shrimp.

Maintaining a pH level between 4.0 and 8.0 will keep them in optimal health. If you’re looking for a showstopper for your home aquarium, the Cariba Piranha is a top contender.

2. Red-Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus Nattereri)

Red Bellied Piranha

Originating from the Amazon Basin, the Nattereri Piranha, commonly known as the Red-Bellied Piranha, is a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. 

With a vibrant red belly and a silver-toned body, they’re a visual delight that will complement any aquarium setting. Size-wise, they grow to about 10 to 12 inches. They are also uniquely identified as one of the fish that sport big lips.

While they are known for their aggressive reputation in the wild, in captivity, they can be quite shy. 

A tank of at least 80 gallons is recommended for these beauties, with a preference for slightly acidic water.

They enjoy a varied diet, from fish flakes to small pieces of meat. When setting up their habitat, consider adding plants and caves for them to explore and hide.

During one of my research trips to the Amazon Basin, I was fortunate enough to observe these fish in their natural environment. Their vibrant coloration and group dynamics were truly fascinating. 

Later, when I decided to keep a Red-Bellied Piranha in my aquarium, I noticed a stark contrast in their behavior compared to the wild. Instead of the assertive predators I’d seen in the Amazon, this captive piranha was timid. 

This observation highlights the importance of understanding the difference between a fish’s behavior in the wild and in captivity.

Here’s an informative video about this species of piranha:

Facts: The Red-Bellied Piranha

3. Piraya Piranha (Pygocentrus Piraya)

Piraya Piranha

The Piraya Piranha is a majestic species native to the São Francisco River in Brazil. Boasting a silver body with a hint of yellow and red fins, these fish are a sight to behold. 

Among the different piranha types, Pirayas are one of the largest, reaching up to 20 inches. Due to their size, they require a substantial aquarium, with a minimum of 120 gallons being ideal. 

When it comes to diet, these carnivorous fish have a hearty appetite, relishing in a diet of fish, crustaceans, and occasionally fruits. 

If you have ample space and are looking for a truly unique aquatic pet, the Piraya Piranha is an excellent choice. 

A sandy substrate with some driftwood and plants will mimic their natural habitat, making them feel at home. 

4. Ruby-Red Piranha (Serrasalmus Maculatus)

Ruby Red Piranha fish
Image credit: justcichlids / Pinterest

The Maculatus Piranha, commonly known as the Ruby-Red Piranha, is a striking fish that boasts a vibrant red hue, making it a favorite among aquarists. 

Originating from the freshwater basins of South America, these piranhas can grow up to 12 inches in length. Appearance-wise, their bodies are adorned with a pattern of dark reddish spots, and their scales are shiny.

When considering this species for your aquarium, it’s essential to provide a spacious environment, ideally, a tank that holds at least 100 gallons of water. 

Ruby-Red Piranhas prefer a sandy substrate and plenty of hiding spots. As a carnivorous species, their diet mainly consists of meaty foods, including fish and shrimp. 

While they can be a centerpiece in a large aquarium, it’s crucial to remember their aggressive nature, especially during feeding times.

5. Rhombeus Piranha (Serrasalmus Rhombeus)

Rhombeus Piranha
Image credit: serrasalmuss / Instagram

The Rhombeus Piranha, often referred to as the Redeye or Peruvian Black Piranha, is a unique species known for its deep black body and contrasting red eyes. 

Native to the Amazon River Basin, these fish can grow impressively large, reaching up to 14 inches. Their dark coloration is a natural camouflage in their wild habitat, helping them stealthily approach prey. 

If you’re thinking of adding this species to your aquarium, ensure you have a tank that can accommodate at least 150 gallons of water. 

They thrive in environments that mimic their natural habitat, so consider adding driftwood, rocks, and plants. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to diet, Redeye Piranhas require a protein-rich diet, including smaller fish and crustaceans.

Given their size and predatory instincts, it’s recommended to keep them either solitary or with larger, non-aggressive tank mates.

Interestingly, this species of piranha is one of the few that are regarded as dangerous to humans.

6. Pike Piranha (Serrasalmus Elongatus)

Pike Piranha
Image credit: piranhaditalia / Instagram

Originating from the freshwater basins of South America, the Pike Piranha is a captivating species known for its elongated body, hence the name “Pike.” 

Exhibiting a shimmering silver hue with a hint of gold, these fish can grow up to 11 inches in length. While their appearance might be intimidating, Pike Piranhas are solitary creatures that prefer calm waters. 

For those considering these fish for their aquarium, a spacious tank of at least 150 gallons is recommended. This species thrives in slightly acidic water with a soft substrate, mimicking their natural habitat. 

As carnivores, they have a preference for live or frozen prey. When it comes to their water temperature, they thrive best in an environment ranging from 74 to 81 °F

When setting up your aquarium, consider adding some hiding spots, as they appreciate some seclusion.

7. Gery’s Piranha (Serrasalmus Geryi)

Gerys Piranha

Gery’s Piranha, often referred to as the “Violet Line Piranha,” boasts a striking appearance with its deep violet streaks contrasting against a silver backdrop. Size-wise, this species can reach up to 8 inches

Their unique coloration becomes more pronounced as they mature, making them a visual delight for aquarists. To replicate their natural environment, a tank of around 120 gallons with a sandy substrate and driftwood is ideal. 

They are carnivorous by nature, so a diet rich in protein, including fish and crustaceans, is essential for them. Meanwhile, they thrive best in a water temperature ranging between 75 and 80 °F

Given their territorial nature, it’s recommended to provide ample space and hiding spots within the aquarium.

8. Sanchez’s Piranha (Serrasalmus Sanchezi)

Sanchezs Piranha
Image credit: exopets.88 / Instagram

Hailing from the vibrant waterways of South America, the Sanchez’s Piranha stands out with its radiant scales and sharp teeth, making it a top choice for piranha enthusiasts.

Although they are generally a peaceful species, it’s recommended to provide them with ample space in tanks that hold at least 80 gallons

To replicate their natural environment, it is recommended to keep them in mildly acidic water with a soft substrate.

When it comes to diet, while they often prefer meaty delicacies, they occasionally enjoy some plant-based foods. Meanwhile, in terms of water temperature, a range of 74 to 78 °F is recommended.

An intriguing aspect of these piranhas is the subtle humming noise they emit when feeling endangered or during their mating displays. On a related note, another interesting fact is that all piranhas emit a distinct sound. 

9. Big Belly Spine Piranha (Serrasalmus Altispinis)

Big Belly Spine Piranha
Image credit: nationwideaquatics / Instagram

The Big Belly Spine Piranha is a true marvel of nature. Their name is derived from their distinctively large abdomen, which is often a vibrant shade of orange or yellow. 

Native to the Amazon Basin, these piranhas are a testament to the region’s biodiversity. Interestingly, despite their intimidating name, they’re one of the more docile piranha species. 

For those considering them for their aquarium, a tank of at least 100 gallons is recommended. This species loves a mix of sand and gravel substrate with plenty of hiding spots. 

They’re carnivorous by nature but can be fed a balanced diet of fish, shrimp, and high-quality pellets. A consistent water temperature of around 76 to 80 °F is ideal for these types of piranhas.

10. Altuvei Piranha (Serrasalmus Altuvei)

Altuvei Piranha
Image credit: serrasalmuss / Instagram

A shimmering beauty, the Altuvei Piranha is often recognized by its silver body and red-tinted fins. Hailing from the Orinoco River Basin, they’re a testament to the aquatic wonders of Venezuela. 

Interestingly, these piranhas are sometimes referred to as “Golden Piranhas” due to the golden hue they can develop under certain light conditions.

If you’re considering adding this species of piranha to your aquarium, ensure you have a tank capacity of at least 90 gallons

Moreover, these fish prefer a mix of fine sand and pebbles as their substrate, replicating the riverbeds they’re accustomed to. Their diet mainly consists of smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans. 

For a thriving environment, maintain the water temperature between 75°F and 79 °F

Being a fan of this piranhas interesting glow undr the proper lighting, I decided to keep one for my aquarium.

Interestingly, Altuvei Piranhas are known to be quite curious, and I often see my pet approaching the glass of the aquarium to observe its surroundings or even me when I am beside my tank.

11. Wimple Piranha (Catoprion Mento)

Wimple Piranha
Image credit: worldrivers.japan / Instagram

Did you know that the Wimple Piranha is one of the few piranha species that doesn’t primarily feed on meat? 

Unlike most piranha species that thrive primarily on a meat diet, this one mainly feeds on fish scales. This behavior is known as lepidophagy.

Native to the Orinoco and Amazon River basins, this unique species is recognized by its elongated body and distinctively shaped mouth. 

With a modest size of up to 5 inches, they are suitable for aquariums of 40 gallons or more. Soft, sandy substrates paired with plenty of hiding spots will make them feel right at home. 

When setting up their diet, a mix of high-quality pellets, fresh vegetables, and occasional protein treats will keep them thriving.

Their peaceful nature and diverse diet make them a less intimidating choice for aquarists keen on keeping piranhas.

12. Big-Toothed Piranha (Pygopristis Denticulata)

Big Toothed Piranha
Image credit: edouardpaiva / Instagram

The Denticulata, commonly referred to as the Five-Cusped or Big-Toothed Piranha, is a testament to the diversity of this kind of fish. 

These piranhas’ jaw houses five unique cusps on each tooth, a feature that sets them apart from others.

Hailing from the clear waters of South America, their silver body is adorned with subtle speckles, giving them a starry appearance. 

Growing to an impressive size of up to 11 inches, they require a spacious tank of at least 120 gallons

Their preference leans towards a mix of sandy and gravel substrates, replicating their natural habitats. As opportunistic feeders, they enjoy a varied diet of fish, crustaceans, and occasionally plant matter. 

Interestingly, despite their fierce dental structure, they are known to exhibit a more reserved demeanor compared to other piranhas. 

Their unique dental anatomy combined with their calm nature makes them a fascinating choice for seasoned aquarists.

Frequently Asked Questions

A shoal of piranhas

Are Piranhas Aggressive?

Yes, piranhas are known for their aggressive nature, especially when they feel threatened or during feeding times. However, their aggressiveness can vary depending on the species and the specific conditions they are in. 

While they have a fearsome reputation in popular culture, many piranhas are more timid than their reputation suggests, especially when alone. 

In the wild, they often form schools as a defense mechanism against larger predators.

Which Piranhas Are the Most Aggressive?

The Red-Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) and the Black Piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) are often considered the most aggressive species of piranhas. 

Their aggressive behavior is more pronounced when they are in a group or when food is scarce. 

However, it’s essential to note that their aggressiveness can be influenced by various factors, including their environment, diet, and stress levels.

What Is the Least Aggressive Piranha?

The Wimple Piranha (Catoprion mento) is among the least aggressive piranha species. Its more peaceful nature makes it a popular choice for aquarists looking to keep piranhas without the typical aggressive behavior.

What Is the Biggest Piranha?

The Black Piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) holds the title of the largest piranha species. It can grow up to 16 inches in length. 

Not only is it the biggest, but it also has one of the most potent bites among all fish relative to its size.

What Is the Difference Between a Pacu and a Piranha?

While both Pacu and Piranha belong to the same family, Serrasalmidae, there are distinct differences between the two. The most noticeable difference is their teeth. 

Piranhas have sharp, triangular teeth arranged in a single row, designed for tearing flesh. In contrast, Pacus have squarer, straighter teeth that resemble human molars, adapted for grinding plants and seeds. 

Additionally, Pacus generally grow larger than piranhas and have a more peaceful temperament. They are primarily herbivores, while piranhas are carnivores or omnivores. 

The body shape also differs, with Pacus having a more rounded body compared to the more streamlined shape of piranhas.

What do you think about these piranha species? Let us know your thoughts or questions about the different piranha types discussed in this guide by leaving a comment below!

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