Piranhas as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips
If you are thinking of having a pet piranha, pay attention to this AnimalWised article about this very special exotic fish that requires a certain care and diet.
It is a well-known fish, popular for its appearances on the big screen - especially in horror films. However, you shouldn't let yourself be influenced by their gory fame, as not all piranhas are as aggressive and fierce as they are always portrayed.
Find out about more about keeping piranhas as pets in this article and ask yourself if this is really the pet you want to adopt with the help of our guidelines and general tips.
Aquariums for piranhas
Unlike the rumors that you can read in some corners of the internet, piranhas do not attack humans except in two instances. The red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) and the redeye or black piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus) may attack on rare occasions if there is presence of blood or excessive movement in the water.
When preparing an aquarium for your piranha, you need to bear in mind that it is a cold-blooded fish and needs a constant temperature of around 22°C to 28°C (71.5º F to 82.5º F).
These fish require quality freshwater and because of their size you can't add another specimen without having a bigger aquarium. You need a minimum of 120 liters for a single piranha, as they can grow beyond 30 centimeters (12 inches).
Inside the aquarium there needs to be hiding places and some natural aquatic plants, without overdoing it so they can move around easily. Soft lighting will suffice, as it is comforting for pet piranhas.
There are many different piranha species and most are not compatible with other fish or even individuals of the same species. You must be properly informed if you're thinking of getting one.
Diet of piranhas
The dietary habits of piranhas make all the difference in their quality of life; this is very important and something you must think about before adopting a piranha.
A piranha's diet consists of other fish that live in its environment, a feast that involves tearing and chewing, keeping its teeth healthy. You can also offer crustaceans, freshwater invertebrates, insects and even pieces of raw meat without salt or additives.
You should keep in mind that its diet should be based on live fish in order for it to keep its natural hunting instinct, and although there are specific feeds available, it is not advisable to offer pre-prepared food.
Even so, as seen in the wild, piranhas can feed on plants. That's why you can occasionally offer lettuce or fruit, always in small portions.
Should you have a piranha?
At AnimalWised we don't recommend piranhas as pets. If you really must have one, we recommend going to a shelter where there are piranhas that have been given away due to their size, ignorance, or ineptitude.
Remember that a piranha grows to a considerable size and needs specific care that cannot be dismissed. You must be responsible and think about the long-term, including veterinary costs, transportation, aquarium maintenance and so on.
Also known as the red piranha or Pygocentrus nattereri, this is a type of piranha that can cause serious injury due to their powerful teeth. They are likely to attack in warm waters, and have attacked people while bathing in cities like Rosario (Argentina).
Just like the previous example, the redeye or black piranha or Serrasalmus rhombeus is another type of territorial and predatory piranha famous for its aggressiveness and speed. Its coexistence with other species is complicated, but it may accept other fish in your aquarium if it is well fed.
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