Pygocentrus: Greek, pyge = rump + Greek, kentron = sting
As indicated by their wide distribution Pygocentrus nattereri are very tolerant of a wide range of conditions. They are often seen for sale when juvenile as pictured above, at this stage they are no more demanding than the majority of other tropical fish. But they do grow very rapidly and they can begin to turn on each other if improperly housed or too few specimens are kept. Although these fish live in shoals it is entirely possible to keep a single specimen if space is short.
Red-bellied piranha, Pygocentrus nattereri is exclusively carnivorous. small mammals, birds and fish are all taken. Red-bellied piranha hunt in large shoals and each member of the shoal is equipped with powerful jaws and large cutting teeth enabling them to easily over power prey which a single fish would not be able to do.
In the UK it is illegal to use any live vertebrate as food.
Pygocentrus nattereri, is only compatible with its own kind when kept in large numbers in a very large aquarium. If only three or four specimens are kept together then the likely outcome is that a single fish will be the only survivor. Most other fish will be eaten fairly quickly.
The sexes are very similar in appearance. Adult females may appear more rounded and less brightly coloured than adult males. It is very difficult to sex these fish reliably.
Unusually for Characins, Pygocentrus nattereri go through a courtship and defend a territory as a pair which they will go on to use for spawning. Post spawning the parents continue to protect their brood until the fry become independent and move away from their parents territory.
Breeding has occurred in captivity. A well conditioned pair should be added to a 100gall (450 litres) aquarium which has lots of decor (bogwood) and is very densely planted in places.
Depending on the temp the fry will hatch after 36 - 48 hrs and become free swimming about a week later. The fry are easy to rear accepting newly hatched brine shrimps and finely powdered food. Due to the very high number of eggs, some quite severe culling will have to take place in order to raise some healthy fish rather than a tank of cannibalistic runts of varying size.
Pygocentrus nattereri is widespread and very common. The species is under no threat in the wild.
In nature Pygocentrus nattereri can reach 16 ins, (40cms) but specimens above 12 ins (30cms) are extremely rare in captivity.
pH: 6 - 8
dGH: 4 - 20
Temperature: 22 - 28°C (72 - 82°F)
Size: 40cm (16in) usually less.
Min tank size: 450 litres
Difficulty level: Moderate
Aquarium type: Species.
Swimming level: Middle
Origin: Wide spread across South America.
Habitat: Rivers, swamps, lakes.
Species: P.nattereri, (Kner 1860)
Other common names:
Red Piranha, Redbelly, Common Piranha.
Pygocentrus stigmaterythraeus, Serrasalmus nattereri,