Class Actinopterygii

Order: Characiformes

Subfamily: Serrasalmidae

Main features

Body length ranges from 15 to20 cm, sometimes fish grow up to 30 cm. Weight of adults can reach 1 kg. Red-bellied piranhas have a reddish tinge to the belly when fully grown, although juveniles are a silver color with darker spots. The rest of the body is often grey with silver-flecked scales. Sometimes, blackish spots appear behind the gills and the anal fin is usually black at the base. The pectoral and pelvic fins may vary from red to orange.Young piranhas are silver, body is covered with large round black spots. The life span is 10-12 years.


The red-bellied piranha is distributed widely throughout the South American continent. They live in the warm freshwater drainages of several major rivers including the Amazon (mainly in Venezuela), La Plata and Orinoco, as well as numerous smaller systems.


They feed on fish, birds, mammals that come to the watering place. They have a very subtle scent that allows them to hunt prey even in turbid water. Piranhas attack suddenly and sometimes ambush. Fish become very aggressive during drought period when level of water heavily decreases. During this period of food lack piranhas become hunting each other.


Piranha live in large flocks from 250 to 1500 individuals. Fish become mature at the age of 15-18 months when their body length reaches 20 cm. Usually breeding season starts with annual flood of the rivers and lasts from March to August. Female piranhas will lay up to three thousands of eggs near water plants, onto which the eggs stick. The males then fertilize the eggs. Male is protecting the eggs all the time. After 10 15 days the eggs will hatch, and fry will hide in the plants until they are large enough to defend themselves, at which point hiding from predators becomes lurking for prey.

Piranha Kyiv Zoo

In Kyiv Zoo piranhas live in ecological module "Amazon" located in the "Island of animals" in the tank with capacity of 400 liters. Fish live in flocks consisting of 8 individuals. Feed on pieces of meat and fish.