Piranhas As Pets? 5 Things You Should Consider Before Getting One

by Rob Byron

Are you thinking of getting a piranha and keeping it as a pet? Well, if you like to get a piranha and keep it as a pet, then you probably need to read this first. 

We have gathered all the information that you need to know about piranhas before you consider buying them and keep them as pets!

Are Piranhas good pets? Piranhas are interesting fish, but they require a few special needs to keep them alive, and it requires commitment from the owner. You also need to make sure that you have enough money to maintain your piranhas.

Let’s take a look at some common questions of people that are planning to keep piranhas as pets. We have answers to all of the questions so, don’t worry!

Are Piranhas Safe To Be A Pet?

things to consider before buying pet piranhas

Yes, piranhas are safe to be a pet. Even though they have a reputation for attacking humans because of what the movies showed us, the evidence is not enough to prove the myth. 

However, there are some types of piranhas can be dangerous to humans, and I suggest you stay away from those types of piranhas. 

Even though some piranhas could be dangerous, the recorded attack of piranhas only resulted in minor injuries, and some severe injuries only happen occasionally. All you see in movies are all fake! And it is not the normal characteristics of piranhas. 

If you are serious about getting a piranha, you have to make sure to keep them in a quiet place, and they should not be kept with other fish. Also, make sure you have enough money to buy your piranhas a slice of delicious fish for their meal. 

Are Pet Piranhas Safe For Kids?

There is a specific age for you to be able to keep a piranha. You need to be old enough, mature and have a stable job because keeping a piranha is not a joke. Piranhas are still wild animals, and you have to make sure that you keep them away from little kids. 

If you are a parent and you have a little kid with you, and you are planning to buy a piranha, you have to make sure that you put the aquarium that is unreachable to little kids. You do this to avoid any minor injuries and accidents. 

If you are a kid and planning to buy a piranha, you should first ask your parents. However, I don’t still recommend for a kid to keep a piranha as a pet. Piranhas are pets for grown-ups, and kids should go for easier to maintain pets like dogs and cats. 

So the exact answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, if you are grown up and have a little kid because all you need to do is to keep your kids away from the aquarium. No, if you are a kid, not mature enough, and don’t have a stable job. It will be hard for kids to take care and maintain a pet piranha. 

What Things To Consider Before Buying Pet Piranha?

The things you have to consider before buying a pet piranha are:

  • Type Of Piranha
  • Space
  • Money
  • Legality
  • Commitment 

Type Of Piranha

Before we move on to other things you need to consider, you have to decide what type of piranha you are planning to get. 

Piranhas are freshwater fish, and there are many types of piranhas (check below). Some piranhas are dangerous to humans, and some piranhas can be tamed and easy to take care of. 

However, all these types of piranhas can be kept as pets. All you have to make sure is you have enough resources to maintain them. That is why you have to make sure to do proper research. 


After you decide what type of piranha you want to get, next is you have to make sure where you will put their habitat and if you have enough space. 

Different types of piranhas require different types of space. Also, piranhas are shy animals, and they often hide if you are watching them. So you have to make sure that you have enough space for your piranhas and enough space where they can hide. 

You need to make sure that you find an appropriate spot for your tank. If your tank is exposed to sunlight, it can encourage the growth of different bacteria that will cause your pet piranha to get sick. Place your tank in an area that is not exposed to extreme heat or sunlight. 


Piranhas are pets that require lots of attention and, of course, lots of money. Why? Because piranhas require many things for them to keep alive. 

You have to make sure you have money for their daily food, decoration of their habitat, and their aquarium tank. However, some piranhas are vegetarians and don’t eat meat. So you have to make sure what kind of piranha you will get. 


Some countries and some locations do not allow any person to have a pet piranha. Piranhas are banned in those locations because of some danger they can bring to humans. However, there are countries and locations where keeping a piranha is legal.

Before getting a piranha, you have first to make sure that keeping a piranha is legal in your current location. Check your local regulations before purchasing a piranha to avoid certain inconvenience and monetary fines. 


If the four things above are checked for you then the last thing you need to consider before buying a piranha is your commitment.

Like I have said, piranhas require lots of attention, and they have other special needs. If you plan to get a piranha, ask yourself first if you are ready to commit and take certain responsibilities for keeping a piranha. 

What Supplies Do I Need For A Pet Piranha?

The supplies you need for a pet piranha are:

  • Piranha Tank (Aquarium)
  • Aquarium Supplies
  • Daily Foods
  • Water

Piranha Tank

First, you have to make sure to have a tank or aquarium because this is where your piranhas live. Piranhas grow between 12 and 35 cm depending on the species. Other types of piranhas can reach up to 50 cm. 

You have to consider first what type of piranha you are planning to get. After that, pick the right size aquarium you plan to buy or build. 

Many people are debating what size of tank you should get. Some said that a smaller aquarium can work, but it is really risky for me. So you have to research well before getting a pet piranha.

In my personal opinion, I would get a larger aquarium. Why? Because you have the freedom to choose any type of piranha you will get. You can choose a shy piranha or a social piranha, like red belly piranhas. 

Also, picking a larger aquarium will make your pet piranha happy because it will be comfortable for them to swim around. 

Aquarium Supplies

The list of aquarium supplies that you need are:

  • Filtration system
  • Thermometer
  • Power Head
  • Decorations

You need a filtration system to keep your piranhas healthy. Piranhas require more filtration than other species of fish. So I suggest you pick a filtration system wisely. There are many types of filters to consider, like canister filters, power filters, sponge filters, and inside box filters.

You may also add a heater to keep the water temperature at a steady temperature. Some piranha owners decide to keep one, especially owners living in cold countries.

You also need a thermometer. Why? To check the temperature of the water while keeping your hands away from getting bitten. 

Decorations, of course, are essential, especially if you want to brag about your pet piranhas to your friends. You should consider buying aquarium lights, plants, shells, and other decorations that you think will make your aquarium elegant and good for the eyes of your piranhas. 

Also, I suggest you add a hiding spot for your pet piranha. Piranhas are shy, and they like to hide. Putting some large decorations like plants or rocks can help keep your piranhas happy. 

Daily Foods

Yes, of course, you have to make sure that your pet piranhas have their daily meals to keep them healthy. 

First, you have to consider what type of piranha you will buy. After that, check if your piranha is an omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore piranha. 

There are many types of piranhas, and not all piranhas love to eat flesh. Some piranhas love to eat plants more than meat. 


You have to make sure that your tank has enough water to make your piranhas swim freely. Fill the tank with freshwater and make sure the water is warm, piranhas love warm water. The pH of the water should be between 6.5 and 7.8, and the alkalinity should be between 50 ppm and 140 ppm. 

You can fill the tank with tap water and make sure you use a filter. You should always check the water temperature to ensure the water is optimal for your piranhas. 

What Are The Different Types Of Piranhas?

There are five different types of piranhas, and you should know each of them before buying one. The five types of piranhas are:

  • Genus Pygocentrus
  • Genus Serrasalmus
  • Genus Pristobrycon
  • Genus Catoprion
  • Genus Pygopristis

Genus Pygocentrus

Pygocentrus piranhas or true piranhas have three species. Pygocentrus cariba, red-bellied piranha, and the piraya. 

The cariba lives in Venezuela’s basins and rivers. A red-bellied piranha or red piranha is considered the most common type of piranha to keep as a pet. They inhabit South America, and they live in the Amazon river. 

Piraya inhabits Brazil, and they are living in the Sao Francisco river in brazil. This type of piranha is the aggressive one and not good to be a pet. 

Genus Serrasalmus

Serrasalmus has a total of 22 piranha species, and they are not like other piranhas. Why? Because Serrasalmus piranhas don’t like to be in a group when hunting. They prefer to hunt alone and love solitude.

The most widespread type of Serrasalmus piranha is the Maculatus or commonly called ruby-red piranha. They inhabit the rivers of Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Surinam, and Venezuela. Other famous Serrasalmus species are brandtii, rhombeus, ruby-throated diamond. 

The maculatus can also be a great pet if you want a pet piranha. It grows to a manageable size. They have attractive colors, and they are inexpensive. 

Genus Pristobrycon

The Pristobrycon is a genus of piranhas that can be seen in the Amazon basins and rivers in the Guianas. There are a total of five species belonging to the Pristobrycon, and they are monophyletic. 

The Pristobrycon is very different from other species of piranhas because there is no single morphological feature that unites them to an ancestor.  

They are very different from other piranhas, and they are less aggressive than the usual piranha. Pristobrycon species could be a good pet piranha

Genus Catoprion

The wimple piranha is the only piranha that belongs to Catoprion. However, the wimple piranha is not considered a real piranha historically. But according to Animal-World, there is evidence that proves that wimple piranha is closely related to Pygocentrus species. 

The wimple piranha can be kept as pets, and they can live in a small aquarium. So if you are on a low-budget and have no enough money to spend on big tanks, then wimple piranha will suit you. 

Genus Pygopristis

The Pygopristis or big-toothed piranhas has only one species. The Denticulata is the only species below the Pygopristis. 

They can be distinguished easily from other piranhas by looking at their tooth structure. They have a crenulated tooth structure. 

Pygopristis inhabits the rivers of Brazil, Surinam, Guyana, French Guiana, and Venezuela. 

How Long Do Piranhas Live?

The life expectancy of a pet piranha is roughly 10-15 years, and it is normal. However, some piranhas can live more than 20 years old. 

Another thing that you can do to make your pet piranha live longer is to make sure you take care of them properly. The lifespan of piranhas also depends on their breed. 

If you want to beat the normal lifespan of piranhas, make sure to keep them in a safe place, healthy place, and clean their aquarium regularly. 

What Should I Feed Them?

Piranhas have many species, and not all species are carnivores. Some piranhas are omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores. Before you give them food make sure to research first the breed of piranha you bought. 

The best food for piranhas is processed and frozen foods like fish, crabs, shrimps, prawns, and krills. Never give your piranhas a live animal! Why? Because they can get sick from that live animal, and it can contribute to waste in the tank. 

Also, piranhas who are herbivores love to eat green vegetables like spinach. Never give your piranhas market feed, flakes, and even granules.

Never give your piranhas chickens, beef, and other mammalian foods because it contains fats, which will be hard for your pet piranhas to metabolize, and this can also cause health problems in the long run.

Below are the complete foods that you can feed to your pet piranhas:

  • Fruit
  • Green vegetables
  • Frozen foods (shrimp, fish, krills)
  • Prawns
  • Rainworms
  • Shed snakeskin
  • Potato
  • Dead insects
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Shrimp pellets

Alternative Pet Fish For Piranha

If you are not sure and if you can’t take care of a piranha, but you still want an exciting pet fish, here are some other animals you should consider:

  • Koi Fish

    Koi fish is omnivore fish, and they can usually eat fruits and vegetables. If you are looking for a pet piranha alternative, I suggest Koi fish because it costs you less to provide them a healthy environment than piranhas. 

  • Electric Eel

    The electric eel is a South American electric fish, and some kept them as pets. It can be an alternative for pet piranha. However, electric eels require large tanks because they can grow large and long. 

  • Clown Loach

    The clown loach fish or tiger botia is a tropical freshwater fish that can be seen in rivers and basins. They are a better alternative for piranhas because even though they are peaceful fish, they are still amusing to watch. 

  • Peacock Bass

    Peacock bass is a carnivorous fish that inhabits freshwater, and they are native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins. This can be an alternative to piranhas if you have plenty of space in your house. They can be a better pet than piranhas, but if only you have a large amount of budget. 

Final Words

If you want to have a pet piranha, you have to make sure that they can live a peaceful and healthy life. So before getting a pet piranha, make sure you have a stable job, and you should commit.

Not all piranhas don’t like to eat or hurt humans like most of the movies told you, they are afraid of humans just like other animals. Some piranhas can be kept as pets so you have to choose wisely!

Rob Byron
Learning about and helping all kinds of animals has been in my blood as long as I can remember. I've been part of many different animal associations over the years so I decided to create this animal info blog with my family who are all involved with animal rescue in some capacity. Also, Because Animals Matter!
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