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Pacu - Red-Bellied


Pacu - Red-Bellied

Pacu Red Belly Piranha
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Pacu Red Belly Piranha

Pacu or Red Belly Piranha
Piaractus brachypomus
Syn: Colossoma brachypomum or Piaractus brachypomum

Aka: Red Belly Pacu, Pirapitinga

NOT to be confused with the carnivore fish Red Belly Piranha: Serrasalmus nattereri

This is a more peaceful community fish.  We raise our Piranha with Plecos, Catfish, and cichlids.  Keep yours in large colonies for happier fish!  Single Piranha are not as happy as when they are living with a group of their own.

The Piaractus brachypomus looks very similar to the so-called maneating version of the Red Belly Piranha (Serrasalmus nattereri), however, they only look like piranha as juveniles because this species of red belly piranha will grow rather quickly and may reach 12 - 24 inches (30 - 61 cm) if properly taken care of.  Their cousin, the Serrasalmus nattereri, will not grow to these larger sizes as they only grow to about 18” max, and of course the Serrasalmus nattereri is indeed a more aggressive fish.

Given their potential adult size of the species Piaractus brachypomus, you will need a large tank to keep one at your home.  The Red Belly Piranha will accept a variety of foods in the home aquarium but will need to be given larger pellets as they grow in size.

Use caution when selecting tank mates for this fish.  Even though they are herbivores, they may go after smaller fish in their tank.  So 9in essence, these are omnivores.  They can potentially be kept with Arowanas, Plecos, Cichlids, Catfish, Tinfoil Barbs, and other larger fish.

This fish may be one of the most enjoyable larger fish you may ever own as many aquarists end up naming their Piranha.  These fish look forward to seeing their owners when they visit the tank.  Popular Pirahna names:  Tiny, Baby, Fred, George, Steve, Gary, Bubbles, Bubba, Vader, Quagmire, Preston & Weeman.

DID YOU KNOW?   Let’s get rid of some old ridiculous Wive’s tales once and for all:  Piranha (Serrasalmus nattereri) have a reputation as ferocious predators that hunt their prey in schools.  Ooooooooh!  Recent research, however, which "started off with the premise that they school as a means of cooperative hunting", discovered that they are a timid fish that schooled for protection from their own predators, such as cormorants, caimans, and dolphins!  Piranhas are "basically like regular fish just with large teeth".

There are various myths about piranhas such as how they can dilacerate a human body or cattle in seconds.  These myths refer specifically to Serrasalmus nattereri, the red-bellied piranha.  A recurrent myth is that they can be attracted by blood and are exclusive carnivores.  A Brazilian myth called "Piranha Cattle" states that they sweep the rivers at high speeds and attack the first of the cattle entering the water allowing the rest of the group to traverse the river.  These myths were dismissed through research by Helder Queiroz and Anne Magurran and published on Biology Letters.  Nevertheless, a study in Suriname found that piranhas may occasionally attack humans, particularly when water levels are low, but this myth could be applied to a school of hungry Oscars, or any other African Cichlid.  There is actually not 1 documented case of a Piranha attack that resulted in death…..EVER!  The rumors about these fish attacking a cow and eating it to the bone actually started from a movie from the 1940’s that depicted these fish as Maneaters!  It was just a movie, and there are actually many freshwater species that are more aggressive than Piranha.  The fish itself, because of the name, has become popular due to legend that is actually based on pure fiction!


Red Belly Piranha or Pacu - Piaractus brachypomus


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