When trying to identify piranhas, one often pokes in the dark. The differences between juvenile and adult forms are dramatic, both in terms of physical and color characteristics. Over the decades that we have imported young piranhas from all parts of South America, some characteristics have proved to be quite reliable in combination: 1- is a dark pigmented shoulder spot (= humeral spot) present or not? 2 – Are dark bands present in the caudal fin and where do they run (e.g. at the edge of the fin, through the fin or at the base); 3 – the colour of the iris (red or brass). With these few characteristics the species can be limited quite well.
Serrasalmlus sanchezi was only scientifically described in 1964. The type was found in Peru (“Caño yarina”, on the bank of the River Pacaya, tributary of the Puinahua Canal, arm of the lower Rio Ucayali). Now we have received 5-8 cm long piranhas from the Brazilian state of Pará, which best correspond to S. sanchezi in their combination of characteristics. However, since the region of origin is quite far from Ucayali (approx. 2,000 km), we have decided to call them S. cf. sanchezi “Pará”. S. hollandi has a very similar pattern, but has a much duller head profile. S. hollandi comes from the river system of the Rio Madeira.
With about 15 cm final size (this information comes from the scientific literature) S. sanchezi remains quite small; it is a very aggressive species, which is best cared for individually.
For our customers: the animals have code 292863 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer