Close-up of a red bellied piranha fish

Red-bellied piranha

Red-bellied piranhas have a fearsome reputation as ravenous, insatiable killers. This perception is enhanced by their powerful jaws and deadly razor-sharp triangular teeth that lock onto food. During frenzied attacks, hungry shoals can strip flesh from the bones of any large animal in minutes. But beyond their media image, these iconic predators of Amazonian rivers and flooded forests are in fact timid scavengers, most likely to feed on other fish, insects, invertebrates and even plants. It can be extremely difficult telling female piranhas from the males, the only clue being that the characteristic red bellies are a slightly deeper and darker red in the males.

Scientific name: Pygocentrus nattereri

Rank: Species

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The Red-bellied piranha can be found in a number of locations including: Amazon Rainforest, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Red-bellied piranha distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Bony fish
  5. Ray-finned fishes
  6. Characiformes
  7. Characids
  8. Pygocentrus
  9. Red-bellied piranha

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