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Red-Bellied Piranha

The Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) has perhaps the worst reputation of any freshwater fish.  Though they are omnivorous (eating both animals and plants), their razor-sharp teeth are capable of easily stripping flesh from prey, living or dead.

Size: They weigh up to three pounds and measure 8 to 15 inches in length.

Life Span: Piranhas can live up to eight years.

Color: They are blue-grey or brownish on their upper body with red on their fins and underbelly.

Continent: South America

Range: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela

Habitat: Red-bellied piranhas live in the warm fresh water regions of South America.

Food: Piranhas feed on fish, birds, reptiles, rodents, and small mammals.

Reproduction: Female piranhas lay several thousand eggs near water plants. The eggs stick to the plants and the male swims by to fertilize them. In two to three days, the eggs hatch and the young piranhas stay on the bottom where they can hide among the plants until they are large enough to defend themselves. They become old enough to breed when they are approximately one year of age.

Fun Facts: The name piranha comes from the South American native language Tupi-guarani and means "cuts the skin." It is illegal to keep piranhas in 21 states of the United States. Three or more species of piranhas are usually found in the same area.