I remember how scared I was as a 9 year old back in 1995 after watching the movie “Piranha”. However although they are an extremely aggressive carnivorous fish species they rarely attack humans unless they are really starving.
But as you can assume putting them with other fish is a definite “no”. They tend to even attack fish much larger than themelves.
There are 3 types of piranha species but the most common one is the red bellied piranhas (pygocentrus nattereri). They are messy eaters so cleaning your tank regularly is a must. Change 15-20% of water in your aquarium monthly. Make sure your filter is in tip top condition as well. Always install a bio filter that has a higher capacity than what is intended for the volume of your aquarium.
They love warm water, so bear in mind their natural habitats are located in the Amazon Basin where tropical conditions prevail. So the water temperature should be around 75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C). Use an aquarium heater to bring up the water ideal temperature level in case you keep your aquarium in an air conditioned area. They are sensitive to sudden temperature changes. If the temperature is lower than this recommended range they tend to contract ich which is commonly known as white spot disease caused by an ectoparasite named ichthyophthirius multifiliis.
Your aquarium should also be 100 gallons or more. They need plenty of space to roam around and hiding places as they can be a bit skittish.
pH level should be between 6.5 to 7.8. Alkalinity between 3 to 9 degrees (50ppm to 150 ppm).
They are true omnivores. They eat a wide range of food compared most other fish species. In their natural habitat in the Amazon Basin. They eat different types of fish, insects, crustaceans, plants and also fruits, nuts and seeds.
However in captivity, be take extra precautions feeding them live fish, especially fish such as goldfish which is not found in their natural habitat. Goldfish could transfer them diseases and also not considered a balanced diet for piranha.
Also do not feed them chicken breasts and mammalian food such as beef liver, beef hearts etc. They contain fats that the piranhas could not properly digest.
You can feed them with any frozen tropical fish food, shrimp pellets, cichlid pellets and Frozen krill.
Try to add variety to their diet as I mentioned earlier in this article they are true omnivores. Do not over feed them but make sure they get enough otherwise they tend to resort to cannibalism. Always clean your aquarium of uneaten food rightaway as they fall victim easily to new tank syndrome (NTS)
They can be bred successfully while in captivity. If you adhere to the aquarium maintaining tips I have given earlier, it won’t be a problem to get a couple of piranhas to jump in the sack. However better results can be guaranteed if you keep a group of 6 together. Male to female ratio would be 1:1.
Be sure to put a secure lid on your tank as they tend to jump more often during mating times.