piranhas belongs to the family of Characidae being a type of freshwater fish that can be carnivores or omnivores and inhabit most countries in South America. Although they have recently been seen in the southern United States. In Venezuela they are called "Caribs."

Profile piranha

Profile piranha


  • Pygocentrus
    • Orinoco piranha (Pygocentrus cariba)
    • Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
    • San Francisco Piranha (Pygocentrus piraya)
    • (Pygocentrus nattereri ternetzi)
  • Serrasalmus
    • (Serrasalmus altispinis)
    • (Serrasalmus altuvei)
    • (Serrasalmus aureus)
    • (Serrasalmus brandtii)
    • (Serrasalmus calmoni)
    • (Serrasalmus compressed)
    • (Serrasalmus eigenmanni)
    • (Serrasalmus elongatus)
    • (Serrasalmus geryi)
    • (Serrasalmus gibbus)
    • (Serrasalmus gouldingi)
    • (Serrasalmus hastatus)
    • (Serrasalmus Dutch)
    • (Serrasalmus humeralis)
    • (Serrasalmus irritans)
    • (Serrasalmus manueli)
    • (Serrasalmus marginatus)
    • (Serrasalmus medinai)
    • (Serrasalmus nalseni)
    • (Serrasalmus neveriensis)
    • (Serrasalmus rhombeus)
    • (Serrasalmus sanchezi)
    • (Serrasalmus serrulatus)
    • (Serrasalmus spilopleura)
  • Pristobrycon
    • (Pristobrycon aureus)
    • (Pristobrycon careospinus)
    • (Pristobrycon eigenmanni)
    • (Pristobrycon maculipinnis)
    • (Pristobrycon striolatus)
  • Pygopristis
    • (Pygopristis denticulata)
  • Catoprion
    • (Catoprion ment)
  • Myleus
    • (Myleus tiete)
  • Myloplus
    • (Myloplus asterias)
  • Mylossoma
    • (Mylossoma duriventre)
    • (Mylossoma orbignyanun)


The piranha is usually between 15 and 25 cm in length, although it varies between species. Although several specimens have been located that have reached up to 50 cm. The evil tongues say that a human fears a piranha more than a shark.

His body is narrow and stout. The head is bulging and the jaws are quite strong with a single row of sharp, razor-like, triangular shaped teeth. They are used to puncture and cut.

It has a dorsal fin located on the back of its body and an anal fin independent from the caudal fin.

Generally, its scales are silver, but its belly and the lower part of its head can vary in color between red, yellow, orange.


They have earned a bad reputation for being dangerous, but in reality they are not that aggressive, nor do they tend to attack humans unless they are given cause or there is a shortage of food. When the piranhas become scarce they become frantic and will eat whatever they find in their path.


The piranha lives in rivers and streams with a very fast flow and where there is enough food where the piranha can feed. They form banks and are constantly competing for food, especially when it is scarce.

They are found in all the countries of South America, with the exception of Chile. With a high population in Amazonia, Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia; the Orinoco, Venezuela, the Guyanas, the Gran Chaco and the Río de la Plata.

It is also possible to breed piranhas in aquariums

It is also possible to breed piranhas in aquariums


Although they are known for their carnivorous nature, it really is an omnivorous animal that he will eat whatever he can find. They feed on mammals, birds, large fish, small invertebrates, and aquatic plants.


The piranha also has predators such as river dolphins, crocodiles, turtles, birds, and large fish. Humans who hunt them for food are also included.


The piranha reproduces in pairs in slower waters (lagoons) and occurs in the rainy season between the months of April and May. The pair prepare a nest where the female lays about 5.000 eggs. Unlike other fish, piranhas fiercely defend their eggs with great efficiency that they manage to survive 90% of the eggs that will hatch in a few days.

State of conservation

Piranhas are not in any kind of danger and are classified as a species of least concern. However, they are not free from threats, as they have more dangerous predators than themselves.

In South America it is a common food and can be found in restaurants as a dish, especially they are consumed by indigenous people.

They are also captured to include them in aquariums, even in some countries they are kept as pets.

List of other interesting animals