Can you eat piranhas



What does a piranha look like?

Like all piranhas, the red piranha also has an oval shape: its body is compressed at the sides and elliptical, it is blue-gray in color and has a silver sheen.

Sometimes it is also spotted dark. The chest and belly are reddish - that's where the name "Red Piranha" comes from.

As the piranhas get older, their body color becomes darker and darker until they are almost black.

The strong jaws with the pointed, razor-sharp teeth firmly anchored in the jaws are typical - they give the fish a dangerous appearance.

The lower jaw is usually slightly advanced, i.e. longer than the upper jaw. The teeth are behind the membranes of the lips.

That way they are well protected; this is particularly important for the piranhas because their teeth do not grow back.

Piranhas grow to be about 30 centimeters tall. Males and females look alike. Although they mostly live in dark, murky waters in their homeland, they can see well. Young piranhas initially have an elongated shape and only become oval with increasing age.

Where do piranhas live?

The home of the red piranhas is South America. There they live in from Guyana and Venezuela to Brazil, Peru and Argentina. They are most commonly found in the Amazon and Orinoco regions.

Piranhas are freshwater fish that live in stagnant or slow-flowing waters. They prefer rivers with slightly acidic, dark water.

What types of piran hair are there?

There are around 36 different types of piranha.

They belong to the tetras and are related to the harmless neon fish, which are popular as aquarium fish.

Well-known species include the red piranha, the tail light piranha, the spotted piranha, the spotted saw tetra and the black band saw tetra.

How old do piranhas get?

Piranhas can live a little over 15 years. However, individual animals are also getting much older: the record is held by a piranha kept in the aquarium that lived to be 34 years old.


How does a piranha live?

Piranhas have a bad reputation: They are considered dangerous eating machines that can gnaw human or mammals down to the skeleton in a matter of seconds.

Such reports are exaggerated: humans and large mammals are not attacked by piranhas.

As long as you don't have any bleeding injuries, you can even swim in rivers where piranhas live without any problems. It is true, however, that piranhas use their teeth to cut pieces of meat out of their bodies at lightning speed.

Piranhas never live alone, they always live in larger schools. In large aquariums they usually form groups of eight to twelve animals.

Within the group there is a hierarchy that is fought out through fights.

These confrontations, however, are usually bloodless: the piranhas try to intimidate each other by showing off their behavior and threatening each other and push the opponent in the side of the body with their mouths.

However, if a fish is bitten in the process, the rest of the school can attack and kill the inferior animal. The inhabitants of South America therefore also call the piranhas "Caribe" - which translates as "cannibals".

Although piranhas live in groups, they do not form a solid community like other fish living in a school: In case of danger, they do not stay together and flee together, but swim apart individually in all directions.

Piranhas have an important function in the rivers of South America: They are the health police. The fish eat dead and sick animals and thus prevent diseases from spreading. This is particularly important because, for example, there are regular floods in the Amazon, in which many animals drown.

These carcasses are eliminated by the piranhas in a very short time. However, piranhas do not stop at conspecifics when they are sick.

Many reports of man-eating piranhas may have arisen because some Indian tribes have a special burial ritual: In times of great floods, when the dead cannot be buried, they are hung on a rope in the water and the piranhas in gnawed off for a few hours. The skeletons are then kept in high burial places in the stake villages of the Indians.

Friends and enemies of the piranha

Caimans, large predatory fish or - if they are sick or injured - their own conspecifics can be dangerous to the piranhas. They are also valued as food fish in South America.

How do piranhas reproduce?

During the breeding season, the male piranha dig shallow pits in the bottom of the rivers. They clean this place of all rubbish and also bite off the plants growing there. The spawning area is fiercely defended against conspecifics.

If the female ready to spawn discovers a male working on his spawning pit, she approaches and tries to swim into the spawning trough. Now the male swims around the female and tries to stimulate the female to lay her eggs by shaking movements with the back of the body. If the female now also begins to shake her back, it shows that she is ready to mate. Now the male wraps his caudal fin around the female and both swim over the spawning pit. The female lays around 300 to 600 eggs and the male gives his sperm over them. During mating, the body color of the piranhas changes: they turn black-blue to gray.

When the mating is over, the male drives away the female and guards the clutch for the next few days. It uses its caudal fin to fan fresh water over the yellowish, approximately 1.5 millimeter large eggs. The larvae hatch after about 36 hours. They initially stay in the spawning pit, where they feed on the yolk supply from the eggs. After about seven days they swim away and seek shelter among the aquatic plants. After about two weeks, the young are a little over an inch long.

How do piranhas communicate?

Fish are not always silent: piranhas can make sounds with the help of the swim bladder, which is used to float in the water, and the so-called drum muscle connected to the swim bladder. They use these sounds as threatening gestures against conspecifics.

On the other hand, they use these sounds like an echo sounder system in order to be able to orientate themselves better in murky water. However, we humans cannot hear these tones.


What does a piranha eat?

Piranhas eat fish and meat. In the aquarium they are fed frozen fish, live small fish, earthworms, maggots and meat.

Piranhas primarily perceive injured prey: they can still smell the tiniest amounts of blood in the water.

In order to be able to smell particularly well, the nostrils of the piranhas each have a front and rear opening.

The water flows through these openings past the wrinkled olfactory mucosa.

But piranhas also have quite harmless relatives: there are two known types of piranha that are vegetarian and only eat plants.

Keeping piranhas

Piranhas are kept in aquariums, but are hardly suitable as pets. You have to know a lot about them and have a lot of experience with aquarium fish to properly care for them. Piranhas need a lot of space - around 100 liters of water per animal. This is important so that they can avoid each other in the event of a dispute.

Besides, you can't hold them alone. You have to keep at least six animals, better still more, together so that they feel comfortable.

It is difficult to keep piranhas together with other fish: In an aquarium the fish can hardly evade and it can happen that the piranhas eat the other fish species.

Care plan

Piranhas are fed daily. The animals must be observed in order to identify any diseases.

It is better to feed the animals in two different places in the tank so that the group splits up - this prevents quarrels about the food.

The windows must be cleaned and some of the water replaced once a week.