These infamous “man-eaters” form large schools and can inflict serious bites, however, black spot piranha feed primarily on fish and insects, and are not dangerous to humans.
  • Size

    11 inches (28 cm)
  • Diet

    Fish, birds, benthic crustaceans, insects, aquatic vegetation
  • Range

    South America
  • Habitat

    Tropical freshwater areas

Physical Characteristics

  • The 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.
  • Juveniles have 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).
  • Females are generally larger than males.

Animal Fact

Piranha can replace their razor-sharp teeth when needed.

Diet / Feeding

  • Described as “opportunistic generalists”.
  • Feeds on fish, birds, benthic crustaceans, insects, aquatic vegetation and terrestrial plant seeds.
  • They also attack sick or dying fishes, feed on the fins of larger species, and scavenge carcasses.

Range / Habitat

  • A South American freshwater fish found primarily in the Orinoco River basin lowlands and tributaries.
  • Prefers warmer waters and stays pelagic (open water).

Reproduction & Growth

  • Reproduction in this species is “unrecorded” and not clearly defined.
  • Sexually mature individuals exhibit a more-rounded body shape, especially during reproductive periods.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Black spot piranha is caught locally for food.
  • As with other piranhas, this species has very sharp teeth that can inflict serious bites. It also forms large schools.


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