Pygocentrus nattereri  Kner, 1858

Red piranha
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Pygocentrus nattereri   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Pygocentrus nattereri (Red piranha)
Pygocentrus nattereri
Picture by Østergaard, T.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Characiformes (Characins) > Serrasalmidae ()
Etymology: Pygocentrus: Greek, pyge = rump + Greek, kentron = sting (Ref. 45335).   More on author: Kner.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; pelagic; pH range: 5.5 - 7.5; dH range: ? - 20.   Subtropical; 23°C - 27°C (Ref. 13371); 9°N - 34°S

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - 15 cm
Max length : 50.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 81048); max. published weight: 3.9 kg (Ref. 40637)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 16-18; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 27 - 30

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

South America: Amazon River basin, Paraguay-Paraná River basin, northeastern Brazilian coastal rivers and Essequibo River basin (Ref. 39031). Reported from the Uruguay River, Brazil (Ref. 79585).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Common in creeks and interconnected ponds in Matto Grosso, Brazil, where it influences distribution and feeding of other fish (Ref. 9080) and in areas of high primary production in Rio Machado and Rio Negro (Ref.9096). Adults feed mainly at dusk and dawn. Feeds on insects, worms and fish (Ref. 7020). Medium-sized to large individuals (15-24 cm length) forage mainly at dawn, late afternoon and night up to about 2200H, whereas smaller fish (8-11 cm) are active mainly during the day (Ref. 9080). Teeth replacement on alternating sides of jaw allows continuous feeding. Its powerful dentition can inflict serious bites. Has a highly evolved auditory capacity and a 'lurking', then 'dashing' behavior during daytime. Shows hierarchies within small schools (Ref. 9077). Available information on body composition of 'piranha caju' flesh is 8.2% fat, 15.0% protein and 4.4% ash (Ref. 9251).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Males and females appear externally alike (Refs. 2279 & 9245). In 'Serrasalmus sp. aff. nattereri', reported to occur in the Orinoco basin (Venezuela, Guyana), the males have more 'bull-like' heads, but are more slender than females (Ref. 1672). Eggs are laid on tree roots trailing in the water and are guarded; the reproductive success may vary strongly from year to year depending on how the savanna was flooded (Ref. 9078). The eggs are large, adhere to plants and are not attacked by the parents. They hatch in 9 to10 days (Ref. 7020).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Fink, W.L., 1993. Revision of the piranha genus Pygocentrus. Copeia 1993(3):665-687. (Ref. 27142)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Traumatogenic (Ref. 4537)

Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
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Gill area


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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5625   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.02239 (0.01107 - 0.04526), b=3.10 (2.92 - 3.28), based on LWR estimates for species & (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.7   ±0.61 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.89; tm=1; Fec=4,000-5,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (27 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.