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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Piranhas Habitat (River Scout)

Range / Habitat

  • A South American fresh water fish found primarily in the Orinoco River basin lowlands and tributaries.

Physical Characteristics

  • Upper body of the black spot piranha is silvery grey, while the lower body is red to red-orange, but varies among individuals. There is a black spot behind the operculum.
  • Pectoral and anal fins are orange to red and the dorsal fin is black.
  • Juvenile has black spots on the upper body.
  • This piranha can reach 11 inches (28 cm) in length and about 1.2 lbs. (0.6 kg), with a maximum weight of 5 lbs. (2.3 kg).

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds on fish, birds, benthic crustaceans, insects, aquatic vegetation and terrestrial plant seeds.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Black spot piranha is caught locally for food. Its flesh is considered flavorful.
  • As with other piranhas, this species has very sharp teeth that can inflict serious bites. It also forms large schools.
  • Piranhas cannot survive in water colder than about 73o F (23o C). So there is little danger of its successful introduction in most parts of the U.S. However, its sale has been banned in California, Florida, Texas and Hawaii and some other states because of fear that the piranha could be released into local waters and proliferate.