20 Interesting Piranha Facts You Need to Know!

Piranha Fish – For Sinaumed’s who have watched the Piranha film, they must be familiar with this one fish. This fish looks scary with sharp teeth and ready to pounce if they come with a crowd. The beach parties enjoyed by the tourists instantly turned into a terrifying terror.

For some people, they may not know more about this fish, especially about the facts. Apart from that, not everyone knows the habitat of the pear fish itself. On this occasion, we will discuss more about piranha fish and interesting facts about this fish. So, see this article until it’s finished.

Get to know Piranha Fish

Piranha is a fish that comes from South America which is known as an ordinary predator with sharp teeth. However, the fact is that not all piranha species are meat eaters, there are several species of piranha fish that are vegetarian.

This fish is known for its sharp teeth and voracious appetite. Most adult piranhas eat fruit and seeds. Young piranhas usually eat small mammals, insects and snakes.

They will become more aggressive when their normal food sources become scarce. When the water level in which they live drops during the dry season, these fish will be trapped in stagnant ponds for weeks on end. When all the food in the pond is used up, these fish can eat anything that gets into the water.

In Indonesia alone, this fish is sold online in the market as an ornamental fish that many consumers like and some even cultivate it. In research, piranha fish have 60 species. However, of the 60 types of fish there are some that cannot be cultivated as ornamental fish.

In the Regulation of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Number 41 of 2014 that this fish is prohibited from entering Indonesian territorial waters. This is because a fish called piranha is a predatory fish and can prey on other fish. Not only that, he will also eat shrimp, frogs and birds which will endanger native fish in Indonesia.

Although described as fish that eat meat or carnivores, some piranhas are omnivores (eat everything). This fish also will not eat humans alive, usually piranha fish will eat human carcasses that are already in a dying or dead state as well as the news that piranhas eat larger animals.

One of the most ferocious and feared piranha fish is the black piranha, which has a body length of 20-37 cm with sharp teeth.

But did Sinaumed’s know that this fish isn’t as scary as it appears in the movies? Then do piranhas also prey on humans? Let’s look at some interesting facts about this one fish.


Piranha Fish Morphology

The fish, which has the scientific name Pygocentrus Nattereri , is indeed very distinctive with the shape of its teeth which are known to be large and sharp to become meat-eating fish. However, there are various characteristics of the body shape or morphology of fish that Sinaumed’s needs to know, including the following:

  • It has a blunt and flat head
  • Its body is oval in shape with not too floating fins
  • His head is big and some people say that his face looks like a bulldog
  • The teeth are large and sharp
  • The row of teeth is triangular, sharp, wide and knife-like
  • A pair of piranhas on the side of the body
  • When fish are young, their eyes are dark, while as adults they change color to a fiery red
  • For the most part, their body size ranges from 12-35 cm and can grow even larger
  • This type of red belly fish has a length that can reach 50 cm
  • The body of this fish varies depending on the species, some are gray, blue, yellow, red and black.
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Habitat and Distribution of Piranha Fish

The habitat of this fish that is known so far is the Amazon River, Orinoco, Sao Francisco, Paraguay, Lake Kaptai (southeast Bangladesh) and the Lijiang River (China). However, in each of these places the type or species of fish is not always the same. So, there will be different species in each place.

Based on information from the Fish Quarantine Agency, Quality Control and Safety of Fishery Products (BKIPM), the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) stated that the status of this fish itself in Indonesia already exists. However, this fish is only used as an ornamental fish that is placed in an aquarium.

Piranha Fish Facts

This fish itself has facts that many people may rarely know. Here are the facts about piranha fish as follows:

1. The meaning of the name piranha

One of the distinctive characteristics of this fish is its sharp and terrible teeth. In fact, the name piranha itself means “fish with teeth” in the language of the Tupi people who live in Brazil.

2. The bad image of piranhas originates from the writings of Theodore Roosevelt

When Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Brazilian Amazon in 1913, local residents would put on a show for Roosevelt. They deliberately threw a live cow into a river containing piranha fish.

Before the show, these fish were deliberately caught and left to starve, so it’s not surprising that when the cow entered the water, these fish became violent and quickly tore the cow to pieces, leaving only bones behind.

Roosevelt who saw this show immediately considered the piranha as the perfect killing machine. The story about piranhas was written by Roosevelt in the book Through the Brazilian Wilderness which was selling well on the market. There Roosevelt wrote horrible things about piranhas. This is what makes many people have a bad impression of this one animal.

3. Piranhas are commonly found in South American rivers

Sinaumed’s could see that from Venezuela’s Orinoco River Valley to the Parana River in Argentina, there are 30 different species of piranhas living in South America.

However, South America is not the only place where Sinaumed’s can find piranhas. They can also be found around the waters of China, England and even Texas. However, these fish come from domesticated fish that are released into the river.

4. Piranha fish teeth are strong enough but can be dislodged

This fish is known for having sharp teeth and relentless bites. The word piranha literally translates to “tooth fish” in the Brazilian Tupi language. This is because the shape of the fish’s teeth is often compared to a knife and adapted to their diet. The tooth enamel structure is actually similar to that of a shark.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for these fish to lose their teeth throughout their lives. In a 2012 study, researchers found that black or red-eyed piranhas (Serrasalmus rhombeus) bite with a maximum force of 72 pounds, or three times their own body weight.

5. Piranha fish eat human corpses, not living humans

According to experts, it takes between 300 and 500 piranhas to strip a 180 kilogram human in just 5 minutes of all the flesh. The bodies that drowned in the South American River prove that they drowned and died before being eaten by these fish, usually due to heart attacks and epilepsy, not because of the attack of these fish.

6. Some piranhas are cannibals but some are vegetarians

Basically, the food of these fish is insects, fish, crustaceans, worms, carrion, seeds and other plant material. However, if the food source is reduced, these fish can eat the same sex, both living and dead.

Despite the reputation of these fish as meat eaters, some are also omnivores. In addition, they eat more seeds or plants than meat and some even live on plants alone.

7. Piranhas hunt by striking the tail or eyes

In a study conducted in 1972, it was stated that the distended red piranha fish attacks carp or its prey in the tail or eyes. According to the researchers, the behavior of this piranha fish is an attack strategy that effectively paralyzes opponents or prey.

8. Piranha fish skin can produce sound

The red-bellied piranha fish caught by fishermen makes a sound like the scraping of bark. Upon further examination by a team of Belgian scientists, it was found that piranhas make three different types of vocalizations in different situations.

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9. Piranha fish live and swim with their schools for security reasons not for strength

Even though it looks like an advantageous hunting technique, in fact they flock to get away from bigger enemies. This is because the piranha fish is not the top predator of the food chain.

Piranha fish also breathe easier in larger schools. The researchers also observed wild piranhas form larger schools in shallower waters where they would be more vulnerable to attack.

10. Will be attacked if disturbing piranha fish or piranha eggs

Even if piranhas don’t eat humans who are alive and well, something different will happen if they disturb their peace. Don’t swim where they spawn their eggs or make them feel threatened.

This is because it will make the piranha fish more aggressive. Black piranhas and red piranhas are types that we should avoid because they are considered the most dangerous and aggressive piranhas towards humans.


11. Piranhas are attracted to noise, splashes and blood

A study conducted in 2007 linked attacks on humans by noise, splashed food, and blood. Piranha fish naturally catch the sound of fruit or nuts falling into the river.

They also respond to the sound of splashing water made by humans. However, this blood is not like what is seen in the movies. This fish is only able to smell a drop of blood in 200 liters of water.

12. Piranha fish can be used as food

In parts of the Amazon, eating piranhas is considered taboo by society. While others deliberately make this fish as one of the menu dishes. For example, piranha soup is popular in the Pantanal region of Brazil. However, many prefer to serve this fish grilled on a banana leaf with additional tomatoes and limes for garnish.

13. Piranha fish are vegetarians

Even though they are identical as ferocious meat-eating fish, there are also omnivorous fish or meat- and plant-eaters. Researchers have even found the Tometes Camunani species that live in the Trombetas basin in Para, Brazil, which actually eats river weeds more often.

14. Aim for the tail and eyes of the prey

A study conducted in 1972 found that red-bellied fish attack their prey more often from their tail and eyes. This is a strategy that is used because it can immobilize prey effectively.

15. Can “Bark”

This fish can emit three distinctive sounds to warn its opponent. When threatened by other fish, this fish will make a sound similar to a dog barking.

When fighting with other fish, this fish makes a grunting or thumping sound produced by the swimbladder organ. If the opponent does not immediately retreat, the piranha fish grinds its teeth and immediately chases its enemy.

16. The bite is very strong

Piranha fish not only have sharp teeth, but can also bite with astonishing force. Based on a study conducted by Scientific Reports , researchers found that this black fish, which is the largest modern piranha species, can bite with a force of 32 kilograms.

17. Male piranhas become aggressive when breeding

Male piranhas will be very aggressive in protecting their territory when breeding season arrives. Female piranhas lay around 5000 eggs in one reproduction, then male piranhas will fertilize the eggs by protecting the eggs and become very territorial in guarding their eggs. This fish has two spawning periods, one in April and the second in late summer.

18. Has a beautiful color

These fish are not only brown in color, but they have various other colors and patterns. Like, yellow to green, blue to gray and sometimes red.

19. The size of the piranha fish

This fish is not a large fish. They measure 6 to 10 inches in length.

20. Feeding frenzy

Like fish in general, sharks, piranhas can also engage in a food grabbing frenzy. It will often happen when another school of fish arrives.




It can be concluded that piranha fish are actually not animals that are dangerous to humans. The image of this type of fish in the film is fierce. However, we still need to be vigilant when swimming in rivers full of piranhas. Avoid swimming when there is little food or mating season.

This fish also has three distinctive sounds to warn its opponent. If it feels threatened by another living creature, it will make a sound similar to a dog barking.

Meanwhile, when fighting with other fish, piranha fish will make a grunting sound or a thump sound produced by the swimbladder organ. He will also grind his teeth when the opponent does not back down.

Those are some interesting facts about piranha fish. It turns out that this fish is not as scary as imagined! Sinaumed’s, that’s information about the facts of this fish. Hopefully we are not exposed to poison in consuming these fish and of course we will always be careful when we see the fish.

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