You are herePiranha, Serrasalmus ssp.

Piranha, Serrasalmus ssp.

pirhanaIntroduction Most species of Piranha are native to the fast moving waters of the Parana River Basin and the Amazon River. They are formidable predators, reaching a length of up a foot long and traveling and hunting in large shoals. They feed on anything that they can overcome, however fish are their main diet. It is well known that these fish have a reputation that precedes them. They are known for attacking and stripping flesh from bone in a voracious feeding frenzy. Their jaws are equipped with hundreds of razor sharp teeth that allows them to bite prey in half or remove a chunk of flesh in one bite.

The Aquarium As you decide on the size aquarium you will purchase, you must keep in mind the ultimate size of the fish you are purchasing and the size of the fish at the time of purchase. For most species of pirhana, it will be best to attain a large tank from the beginning. This will keep you from needing to purchase and set up another tank as your fish grows. It will also alleviate stress on the fish as it would otherwise get moved from tank A to tank B to tank C. These fish can grow to a descent size in their first year. Be sure that the tank's width is long enough to allow the animal to turn around as well. For a school of six adult pirhana, no tank smaller than a 125 gallons will do. For an individual or few, we suggest at least a 90 gallon aquarium. Pirhana are secretive, shy fish and when spooked will dart across the tank and smash into the end pane, resulting in rubbed snouts, broken teeth, damaged jaws and so on. For that reason it is best not to leave the end panes transparent and they should be painted or covered with a background.

Decorating the tank is personal preference. Your gravel bed should be 1-2 inches deep. For the most part, one pound per gallon will give you a substrate depth of one inch. An array of decor can be used ranging from drift wood, rock and live plants to castles, sunken boats and plastic plants. However you decide to decorate your aquarium, your goal is to provide shelter and security for the fish while keeping the tank easy to maintain. Keep your water soft and slightly acidic with a pH between 6.4 and 6.8 ideally. They will tolerate a pH up to 7.5 and harder water, but their otherwise intense color will suffer and will look dull and faded.

Filtration Since Piranha are carnivorous animals, they naturally will produce a large amount of nitrogenous waste. Your aquarium's filtration should be designed with this in mind. For the size tank that these fish require your standard hang on the back filters will not be efficient enough to properly filter the water if you keep a school of these fish. I would recommend using a sump design with wet/dry filtration. Sumps are capable of moving water through the filter media at rapid rates, ensuring that the tank's water is turned over several times an hour. By incorporating wet/dry or trickle filtration into your sump, you will be increasing the efficiency of breaking down nitrites. It will also increase the total amount of dissolved oxygen in the water which is vital to keeping large fish alive. Chemical filtration is also very important in the long term keeping of large fish. This is easily accomplished by placing a bag of aquarium carbon in an area of high water flow within the sump. Carbon will aid in removing impurities from the water such as fats, acids, proteins and dissolved wastes as well as giving the water a polished look by removing discoloration. If you choose to use driftwood in your tank, you will notice some yellowing of the water. This is due to tannins being released from the wood. It is harmless to the fish, but may not be very visually appealing. Carbon will aid in removing this discoloration as well. Other types of filtration that you may choose to utilize in your filtration system are fluidized sand beds, diatom filters and U.V sterilization. Fluidized sand beds are no more than an enclosed cylinder filled with fine sand in which water is pumped through the bottom and flows up though the sand and back out. As the water flows through the sand, it keeps the sand suspended and fluidized, therefore allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize each and every grain of sand greatly increasing the surface area for nitrification to occur. Diatom filters are not as popular as they once were and have been replaced with micron filters. The function is still the same while the design differs. For diatom filters, diatomaceous earth is used to cover a filter bag creating a mechanical filter that allows only the absolute smallest of particles to pass through it. These filters are not intended for prolonged use, as they quickly become clogged and backed up and need constant maintenance. Instead they are normally used for short increments of time, such as one day a week for example. The benefit of these filters is providing crystal clear water. They also filter such small particles that they may be useful in eradicating parasites such as ich from the water column. U.V sterilizers are normally, as are the previously mentioned filters, used in conjunction with a main filter. U.V sterilizers pump water though a cylinder and by a light that emits strong U.V radiation. This dose of U.V will kill a number of organisms ranging from various parasites to types of algae. They are very useful in preventing green water in your aquarium.

Lighting and Heating Ideally, you should maintain your aquarium's temperature between 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming that your tank's temperature does not fluctuate more than 2-3 degrees in a 12 hour period, you should not have any temperature related issues. Keeping your aquarium's temperature as constant as possible is absolutely essential to the well being of your charges. A standard aquarium heater of appropriate wattage (approximately 2-3 watts per gallon) placed either in the tank itself or in the sump should be sufficient.

Standard T-12 fluorescent lights will work fine to properly illuminate your aquarium. The lights should be on 12-14 hours daily.

Feeding Piranha will thrive on a diet that is well varied and containing whole food items. Whole food items are animals which have not been prepared, processed, cleaned, gutted etc. but rather are offered to your fish as they were in life; whole. Readily available whole food items include fish, crustaceans and worms. For the fish you can offer common feeder goldfish, rosy reds, guppies and mollies. Craw fish, fresh water shrimp (glass shrimp and prawn) and fresh water crabs can be provided as well. For worms, you may offer meal and super meal worms, silkworms, horn worms, night crawlers, earthworms and red worms. Any worms that you offer may need to be chopped into more acceptable morsels. Ocean Nutrition produces a number of frozen packaged food items such as silversides, sand eels, krill, blood worms and several other frozen foods that may be provided as well as live food. All frozen food should be soaked in a quality vitamin supplement prior to use.