To say it right away: yes, we also know that the species P. ternetzi is currently seen by most ichthyologists as a synonym of P. nattereri. This assessment is based on the fact that the “true” Pygocentrus nattereri is the yellow-breasted species from the drainage of the Rio Paraguay (type locality of P. nattereri described by Kner in 1858 is Cuiabá and Mato Grosso in Brazil), while the red-breasted “common” Amazonian spiranha should be scientifically referred to as Pygocentrus altus (described in 1870 by Gill from the upper Amazon) (Géry, Mahnert & Dlouhy, 1987). However, the scientific community has so far followed the aforementioned authors only in that P. ternetzi is seen as a synonym of P. nattereri, but the name P. nattereri is applied indiscriminately to the red- and yellow-breasted piranhas, which is certainly incorrect. Therefore, the name P. ternetzi is still used in aquaristic circles to have a name available for the yellow-breasted piranha of the Rio Paraguay inlet. P. ternetzi was described by Steindachner in 1908 from the Rio Paraguay near Descalvados, Mato Grosso, Brazil.
This yellow-breasted species is unfortunately rarely available. So we are glad to be able to import it once again from Paraguay at present. Typical for all Pygocentrus species is the more bulbous head shape compared to Serrasalmus, at least in larger animals. It is important for aquaristic practice whether a piranha belongs to Pygocentrus or Serrasalmus, because Serrasalmus species are fin eaters and are basically best kept singly, while Pygocentrus are schooling fishes that hunt larger prey. Since exporters often keep both genera together because juveniles cannot be easily distinguished, piranhas often arrive with severely mutilated fins – the work of Serrasalmus. It then takes some time for the fins to grow back.
For our customers: Pygocentrus ternetzi has code 293104 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
In great parts of South America there are large (up to 50 cm) piranhas, which usually become black when they are old. Another common feature of these piranhas is a red iris. It is currently common practice to refer to all these animals as Serrasalmus rhombeus because they are indistinguishable as adult fish. However, young and adolescent specimens look very different, depending on their origin. It is therefore not very likely that all of them are actually S. rhombeus. The “real” S. rhombeus comes from Guyana and is currently not available in the hobby due to the bad export situation of the Guyana countries.
There are some synonyms of S. rhombeus, but only one from the Peruvian Amazon: Serrasalmus immaculatus. This species was described by Cope in 1878 and in 1906 Fowler made a drawing of the type specimen. We have raised young Serrasalmus “rhombeus” from Peru and can now present here a development series documenting the various changes in colouration. These differ considerably from S. rhombeus from Guyana and are an excellent match for S. immaculatus. Therefore we think that it makes more sense to use the name S. immaculatus in future for the “Peru-rhombeus”.
Three specimens of 15-18 cm length from the experiment are now available for sale.
For our customers: the animals have code 292277 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
From the Rio Tocantins in Brazil we received wonderful, 11-14 cm long Serrasalmus rhombeus. This species grows 35 cm, maybe even 50 cm long, making it one of the largest piranha species of all. One can recognize adolescent S. rhombeus quite well by the combination of ruby red eye, a shoulder spot which is not substantially larger than the eye diameter, the yellow anal fin and two dark bands in the tail fin, one of which is at the tail root and one limits the fin behind. Adult animals are uniformly black, see https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/gigantic_black_piranha_arrived__en/
The population from the Rio Tocantins is particularly colourful. In contrast to many other piranha populations, which are currently still assigned to Serrasalmus rhombeus, these animals have a beautiful red band on the gill cover.
These piranhas are solitary fish and feed in nature mainly on fins of other fish.
For our customers: the 11-14 cm long animals have code 292806 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers. Only available in small quantities!
If ichthyologists were superstitious, they would surely believe that Serrasalmus geryi was sent to them so that they would not despair. No other species of piranha can be identified at all stages of its life as reliably and unequivocally as this endemic (i.e. it occurs exclusively there) of the Rio Tocantins in Brazil. The reddish-brown eel-stripe makes S. geryi, which grows 20-25 cm long, unmistakable.
In nature this species, like probably most Serrasalmus species, is a rather solitary fin-eater. But there are some aquarists who successfully keep this piranha in groups and even breeding has been successful.
So a Piranha-fan known to us has maintained a functioning group S. geryi for several years, which was gradually brought together. The eight animals first swam together for about 2 years in a 1,000 litre, very elongated aquarium. Swarm behaviour could not be observed. Afterwards the animals were between 17 and 24 (!) cm long.
Spawning occurred when the fish had to be temporarily transferred to a much smaller tank for four weeks due to a hospital stay, in which NO water change was carried out over the period of four weeks. Apparently these piranhas spawn in nature under dry season conditions. Only one pair was involved in spawning (no external sex differences could be seen), no brood care was exhibited and the fish acted as free spawners.
Currently we have some very nice wild catches of this species of 10-12 cm length in stock.
For our customers: the animals have code 291904 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
This piranha, described from Venezuela, is easily recognizable by its characteristic pattern in connection with the head profile, but still causes great confusion, as the fish in the trade come from completely different areas and are still indistinguishable.
S. manueli was described as Pygocentrus manueli from the Río Paraguaza, middle Orinoco, Venezuela. The first description was made in a journal which is not generally accessible and so it only became known to the scientific community through the work of Machado-Allison, especially Machado-Allison 2002. Therefore these piranhas were often misidentified before as Serrasalmus humeralis.
Two characteristics make S. manueli very special: firstly the mostly vertically extended body points and secondly the head anatomy. Only S. gouldingi has the same head shape as a juvenile fish, with the lower jaw appearing very massive and rectangular. However, S. gouldingi has no humeral spot, which is always clearly pronounced in S. manueli.
S. manueli is one of the largest piranha species with a maximum length of more than 35 cm. Adults of S. manueli have a round head profile, a blood-red head, a large humeral spot, a white-silvery body and a blackish tail fin. Apart from the population in Venezuela, there is also a population in the Rio Negro and the Rio Xingu in Brazil. Like all piranhas of the genus Serrasalmus, this species should normally be kept individually as it is a fin eater.
For our customers: the animals have code 292294 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesalers.
Recently we obtained a shipment of piranhas from Peru. The fish are 5-9 cm long. At the first glimpse the shipment could be told apart into two phenotypes. First, there were fish with comparatively small spots, a lot of red coloration in the anal fin and a comparatively thin black border on the caudal fin. The second form has comparatively large spots, almost no red in the anal fin – this fin also has a more distinct black seam – and a very broad black seam on the border of the caudal fin. However, „technically“ speaking both forms do not differ in any aspect that can be seen with the bare eye, like body shape etc.
The fish with the small spots fits very good to the piranhas we often obtain from Peru and which we have determined as Serrasalmus compressus in the past. The other animals belong for sure to the same closer relationship within Serrasalmus, but there is no scientifically accepted other species than S. compressus that fits. The only possible exception may be the Black Piranha (S. rhombeus), which we get from Peru from time to time (see https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/gigantic_black_piranha_arrived__en/). However, Serrasalmus rhombeus is easily distinguished from other piranhas by the red eye, that should already be visible in 5-9 cm long animals (see https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/piranhas_serrasalmus_niger_en/). As we could find no matching name for the second phenotype we now offer them all under the name of S. compressus, but we cannot exclude the possibility that two species are involved, maybe even a scientifically undescribed one.
For our customers: the fish have code 291332 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
The „real“ piranha, Pygocentrus piraya, is restricted to the river system of the Sao Francisco in southern Brazil. It is a up to 30 cm long species, which is characterized by its deep red breast and the mighty jaws when it is fully grown.However, even juveniles display a very attractive coloration.
Most piranha species belong to the genus Serrasalmus. Externally Pygocentrus and Serrasalmus are very similar, but the behaviour of the members of the two genera is completely different. All Serrasalmus are fin eaters and solitary fish whereas all three Pygocentrus species (P. caribe, P. nattereri and P. piraya) are schooling fish.
This means that P. piraya should be kept in real big aquaria, as it becomes a large fish and must be kept in groups. When they reach maturity, pairs build up small territories (places around large plants are most wanted). They dig out spawning pits by hitting away the gravel with the caudal fin and defend this against other fish. Only the male defends eggs (many thousands) and fry. The brood care ends when the young become free swimming.
Usually no piranha will attack a human being. Nevertheless you should keep respect as the fish have razorsharp teeth and can give really heavy bites. There is only real danger when the aquarium is too small for the fish and they cannot get out of the way or during feeding times, as by chance the piranha can take the keeper’s finger for food by mistake.
All in all P. piraya is a gorgeous fish for show tanks where it can also show its faszinating and highly developed behaviour.
Text & Photo: Frank Schäfer