Keeping Piranha Fish in Aquariums

A Guide to Keeping Piranha Fish in Aquariums: Setup, Feeding & More

Piranha Fish in Aquariums? Amazed!

Yes, it is true.

Famous for razor-sharp teeth, flesh eaters & among aggressive fish, Piranha fishes have been known to exist for many years. In fact, they are considered killer machines because piranhas have aggressive behavior & tend to act ferociously on smelling blood and can rip off the flesh in a few seconds.

But, not all of them are scary enough to go close as many of them feed on plant material. This makes them eligible as pet piranha. Though there are more than 60 species of piranhas in existence; the real piranhas belong to four families such as Pristobrycon, Pygopristis, Pygocentrus, and Serrasalmus. The piranhas from these categories have traditional traits and temperaments.

Ideally, piranhas are seen more often in coastal rivers of Southern America. Out of these, they are more commonly found in the Amazon river. Here, you can come across more than 20 types of piranha fish.

Indeed, piranhas grow, generally, up to the size of two feet, and are available in a range of colors. From bluish-black to silver-orange, or pure black with spots, they have saw-edged bellies, deeper bodies, blunt heads, and very strong jaws.

However, the bite force of a piranha is 70 pounds per square inch. This is the reason that people keeping piranha as pets or even finding them in the wild should be careful.

Types of Piranha Fish In Aquariums

Piranha fishes are always a source of research and hold a reputation for being the scariest flesh eaters. They tend to rip off the flesh quickly. Thinking as to what types of fishes are there and how long do piranhas live. In fact, they are the five most common piranha fishes that can be seen more than the other uncommon ones.

Red-Bellied Piranha

Red-Bellied Piranha

Known for its aggressive behavior, it is considered as the monster of the fresh waters and is known to be hungry. The moment they sense the presence of flesh or blood in the water, these fishes take no time in pouncing on their prey.

But, this does not mean that they cannot be kept as pets. The matter is all about breeding them as per their temperament.

Generally, they grow 13 inches in size and have a striking appearance. It is their shimmery silver-colored upper body with orange to red colored lower parts that lends attractiveness to them. An important trait about them is that they like to live in a group. So, fish keepers willing to keep red-bellied piranha fish as pets should be ready to breed a group of 3 to 4 piranhas in an aquarium.

OriginAmazon River
SizeAround 30.5 centimeter
Tank Size20 gallons for small, 100 gallons for big
Adaptable Temperature75 to 80 F

Peruvian Black Piranha

Peruvian Black Piranha

These black piranhas have different color morphs that lend them a distinctive appeal, making them one of beautiful fish. But, it should be noted that their bodies have either a completely black tone or a silver tone.

No matter either of these color variations piranhas has, the most common factor about them is their illustrious red eyes that shine bright. In fact, it is their attractive appearance that has enabled people to keep them as pets.

With larger bodies growing with a size of 17 inches, these fishes are very peculiar about their habitat. Certainly, they prefer to live alone.

FamilySerrasalmus Rhombeus
OriginAmazon River
Size45 to 55 centimeter
Tank Size20 gallons for small, 100 gallons for big
Adaptable Temperature76 to 82 F

Black Spotted Piranha

Black Spotted Piranha

Though they are misunderstood for being red-bellied piranhas because of their looks from far off, the bold black spots appearing at the head make them unique. Taking note of their size, these fishes do not grow more than 11 inches. If you are willing to keep black spotted piranhas as pets, it should be known that they are the most non-aggressive fish species and happiest of all piranhas.

OriginOrinoco River, South America
Size28 centimeter
Tank Size20 gallons for small, 100 gallons for big
Adaptable Temperature75 to 80 F

Pike Piranha

Looking very different from the usual piranhas, the pike ones have an elongated body shape. Apart from this distinctive appearance, they have strong jaws, aggressiveness, and other traits present in the common piranha fishes. In fact, they are known to have extremely sharp teeth that have a strong bite force. What makes them different from others is the silver coat on their skin and their preference to live alone.

OriginAmazon River and Rio Orinoco River
Size30 centimeter
Tank Size20 gallons for small, 100 gallons for big
Adaptable Temperature75 to 80 F

Gery’s Piranha

These piranhas are considered the rarest ones with odd-looking appearance. What makes them rare is their slim body shape, which is unlike other piranhas. Taking note of their looks, Gery’s piranhas have a silver-colored body with a broader stripe present from the mouth to the dorsal fin. Along with this, they ideally grow up to 12 inches and have a lifespan of about 10 years.

OriginLower Tocantins and Araguaia Rivers of Brazil
Size25 to 30 centimeter
Tank Size20 gallons for small, 100 gallons for big
Adaptable Temperature76 to 82 F

Which Piranha Fishes Are Suitable For Aquarium?

The piranha fishes have been typecast as scary ones with strong jaws and a heavy bite force. It is said that coming in contact with piranhas can be a threat to your life. But, it is not completely true because many piranhas can be kept as pets in piranha fish aquarium.

Out of various ones, the most favorite choice is the red-bellied piranha. They have a silverish-gray color body with a striking orange-red tone in the throat, chest, and stomach portions.

Besides this, they are affordable as pets as compared to other ones and not much aggressive. Some of the other piranhas that can be kept in aquariums are the big-bellied spine, blacktail, ruby red colored, and altuvei piranhas.

Setting Up An Aquarium For Piranha

If you are willing to keep piranhas as pets, getting a piranha tanks with minimum tank size of 25 gallons for a single piranha and 60 gallons for two pairs of piranhas is mandatory.

The reason is that it will give them sufficient space for swimming. Moreover, you must purchase a tank as per the size of the piranha fish. As per the rule of fish piranha keeping, an aquarium with 20 gallons for adult fish and a 100 cm sized aquarium for the small ones.

So, it is always better that the piranha fishes should be kept in an evenly-sized aquarium. Every category of a piranha has its own living mechanisms and preferences.

  • Piranhas that prefer solitary living can be housed in smaller tank setup compared to those that thrive in groups or pairs.
  • Consider the specific habitat needs of the piranhas you plan to keep and ensure their community tank replicates their natural environment.
  • Regular cleaning of the piranha’s aquarium is necessary, ideally on a weekly basis, to promote good health.
  • Piranhas can become aggressive and pose a risk to their owners if not fed on time. Excessive hunger can trigger their attacking behavior.
  • Since piranhas are messy eaters, it may be necessary to maintain an additional tank to separate them during feeding times.
  • If the primary tank becomes excessively dirty, it is important to transfer the piranhas to a clean tank to ensure their well-being.
  • Regular water changes are crucial in maintaining a healthy aquarium environment for piranhas.
  • Avoid placing the aquarium or tank in an area exposed to excessive heat or direct sunlight, as it can promote the growth of harmful bacteria on the piranhas’ bodies and harm them.

How To Care For Piranha?

The piranhas have peculiar eating habits, which require the owner to introduce a balanced diet as piranha food. In fact the amount of piranha fish food depends on their age.

In this matter, you can give small-sized fish, raw meaty food, carrion, plant material, flake foods, frozen food like worms to keep them healthy. You should not forget that piranha leaves waste after eating their food. So, keeping the aquariums clean is mandatory for their health.

When it comes to the matter of piranha care, you should ensure that the water temperature of their tank should be kept between 20 to 28 degrees. On the other hand, the presence of alkaline in their tank’s water should not be more than five and a half. Apart from this, it is necessary to feed piranhas on time. While doing so, do not put your hand in the tank as the hungry piranhas can bite you.

Common Issues With Keeping Piranha Fish

  1. Being messy eaters, you have to proper aquarium maintenance schedule & make sure to have weekly water change. The best case will be to have a high-quality heavy filtration process.
  2. The piranhas as pets can get aggression towards tank mates if any, as per their nature in the wake of feeling hungry. So, you should make a schedule and feed them properly.

How Long Do Piranhas Live In Aquarium?

Piranhas typically live for about 10 to 15 years in an aquarium if provided with proper care and conditions. However, some piranhas have been known to live longer, reaching up to 20 years in captivity.

Can You Have Piranha As Pets?

Yes, you can keep piranhas as pets. In this aspect, you should make sure as to which type of piranhas will be in the aquarium. Of course, piranhas require extensive care as other pets and cannot be overfed to maintain a healthy diet.


Piranhas are considered as one of the evil incarnation of tropical freshwater fish, thanks to its impressive teeth. But, this does not mean that they cannot be kept as pets. All you have to do is to give them proper ecosystem with aquarium plants, ensuring varied diet from different food source, proper cleaning schedule and last but not least, not to put your hand in the fish tank.



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