What Are Some Facts About Piranhas?


Quick Answer

Piranhas include over 60 species of carnivorous fish, and they are indigenous to South American rivers and lakes, ranging from Argentina to Columbia. Twenty different species live in the Amazon river alone. Some species are found in China and Bangladesh. Scientists commonly separate carnivorous piranhas from the vegetarian members of Serrasalminae, and carnivorous piranhas are limited to three species of genus Pygocentrus; P. piraya, P. nattereri, and P. cariba.

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Full Answer

The most notable piranha featured in many films is the red bellied piranha, or Pygocentrus nattereri. It has the strongest jaw and sharpest teeth of all the piranhas. This species hunts in groups that can number more than 100 and are able to take down prey of notable size, but this behavior is unusual. Piranhas usually prey on fish that are equal or lesser in size than they are. By working as a team and using vocal signals, the fish eat more often in small amounts.

Piranhas generally feed more aggressively when food resources become scarce, especially during the dry season. In the dry season, river levels drop, trapping piranhas in small pools. Once the food in the pool is exhausted, the fish bite at anything that enters the pool to sustain themselves.

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