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Scientific Classification
Red-Bellied Piranha

A Piranha or piraña is a fish that belongs to the taxonomic family Serrasalmidae. They are mostly thought to be only meat eaters, but turns out that they also will eat plants and some fruit. It has been known that the baby Piranha had eaten fruit, but because of new research they have found that even adult Piranhas will eat plants and fruits. These Piranhas are only found in specific places though. Piranhas are only found in South America in shallow water. People are so scared of Piranhas they are commonly compared to Great White Sharks.


The teeth of an adult Piranha

Piranhas are only found in South America, you can not find them in mountainous areas with lakes and streams. They are found in the tropics of South America in the white rivers of the freshwater streams and rivers. Piranhas are normally found in these regions The Orinoco Range, The Guyana Range ,The Amazon Range, The Rio Sao Francisco Range, and The Rio Paraguay ,and Rio Parana Range. These are not the only regions but it the main region they are found in. They will not be found in oceans or seas, they are strictly held to streams and rivers.

Piranhas have round scales that are all of the body of the fish. It constantly loses these scales because of lots of attacks, from other fish, and from scratches from swimming around in the "white" rivers. But this does not harm the Piranha because it is constantly regenerating the scales because of how often and how quickly it will lose its scales. The scales on the piranha secrete mucus to give them a slimy texture.

The largest Piranha grew to be 2 feet long, but most Piranhas, found, or ,about, only one foot long, but there are also smaller species of Piranhas that only grow to be 8-12 inches long. Piranhas have a arched back and are very skinny.

The jaw of the Piranha is the best known part or even what Piranhas are known for. The lower jaw is out farther than the bottom jaw and the teeth are shaped like triangles. Its teeth are very sharp and are known to be able to injure a warm blooded animal or even kill it![1]


Not very much is known about when Piranhas reproduce, but it is thought that they reproduce twice a year. Once before the rainy season, April/May, and once during at about late summer. Piranhas reproduce sexually through spawning.[2]


Piranha swims in schools.

Piranhas are important to their habitat because they eat what is left over or what is dead and decaying.[3] They are also helpful because they get rid of the sick and weak animals making it so that their are only healthy animals in the world and feeding the Piranhas. Piranhas also used to make tools for Native Americans living in South America. Because their teeth are so sharp they made good tools or arrow heads for them.

Piranhas are also food for other animals. When it is dry season in the Amazon the Piranhas get isolated into little lagoons and die off from lack of oxygen and birds come and eat them because when they are dead there is no risk of getting attacked. Also baby Piranhas are very vulnerable and will be able to get eaten easier and do not know how or do not have what they need to protect themselves from bigger animals.[4]


Piranhas were always thought as meat eating killers, but new research has shown that they do not only eat meat. Scientists have done many studies and it shows that fish are not taken out of their diet, but they also eat plants. Not as many plants as they eat fish, but they are discovering that they eat plants. Piranhas also normally only eat dead animals or flesh, they don't normally go kill to get their food, but they do on special occasions.[5]

Piranhas do not chew their food, they have to swallow it whole because they need to eat as much as they can. When Piranhas eat it is like a frenzy so the faster the Piranha can eat the more it will be able to eat.[6]

Right when Piranhas hatch from their eggs they are ready to eat whatever comes close enough, but it is mostly small crustaceans and some fruits. By the time they reach about an inch and a half long they start feeding on some flesh and on fins. Once they keep growing they start to go out in schools of Piranhas, with about 20 fish in each school, to go hunting for bigger animals or fish. Piranhas do not kill their prey they only eat it alive and it will be eaten by the whole school of Piranhas at a time. When they are seen having a "feeding frenzy" the water is known to look like it is boiling and starts to turn red with the blood. While they are having their "feeding frenzy" the Piranhas will rip the flesh right off of what they are attacking and they will even rip chunks of skin out of each other. Piranhas are so brutal they are known to even eat their own babies.[7]