Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Serrasalmus spilopleura

Gold piranha

Gold piranha, Serrasalmus spilopleuraGold piranha, Serrasalmus spilopleura
Photos by Andy Rapson


Serrasalmus: Latin, serran, serranus, saw and a fish of genus Serranus + Latin, salmo = salmon

General Notes:

Not to be trusted with any other fish due to its very aggressive nature, even others of the same species are likely to be bitten. A large efficient filter and excellent tank maintenance are mandatory with most carnivore fish due to the large amount of ammonia excreted by all carnivores as a result of a diet high in protein.


A predator which preys on other fish, small fish are eaten whole larger fish will be bitten regardless of their size. This fish is quite happy to be parasitic and eat the scales and fins of other fish without killing them. Apparently very small fish may be ignored. Captive feeding should be frozen fish such as lancefish, sardines and whitebait along with earth worms, prawns ect. Using live fish or any other live vertebrate as food is illegal in the UK, not to mention the cruelty and ethical issues of such actions.


Unknown, there is no known external differences between the sexes.


Has been achieved by hobbyists but details are scarce. The fish lay adhesive eggs on plant roots or bogwood. The eggs hatch after 48 hours and the fry are free swimming nine days later. The male alone guards the brood. Once the fry are free swimming they should be removed to a separate aquarium with the same water chemistry. It is likely that some fry will grow faster and then prey on their smaller siblings to prevent this further intervention will be required by separating the fry as much as possible and by only attempting to grow on a realistic number of fry.

Wild status

The full range of this fish is still being evaluated. So the status of wild populations is unknown. There is a small amount of collecting for the aquarium trade and all specimens offered for sale will probably be wild caught.

Information at a glance

pH: 5 - 7
dGH: 4 - 18
Temperature: 22 - 28°C (72 - 82°F)
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 25cm (8in)
Min tank size: 250 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Keep alone
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Gold piranha, Serrasalmus spilopleura

Origin: South America: Guaporé River basin

Habitat: Rivers, streams and lakes


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Serrasalmidae
Genus: Serrasalmus
Species: S. spilopleura Kner, 1858

Common name:
Gold piranha

Synonyms: Pygocentrus dulcis