Red-Bellied Piranha


Piranhas live in groups (AKA “shoals”), but typically hunt solo. They are most active at dawn, in the afternoon, and late at night—though juveniles stick to daytime activity, for safety’s sake. The annual floods of the Amazon Basin draw these fish out of the main river channels and into the floodplain forests, where they migrate to feed and reproduce, until the floodwaters recede.


Piranhas have a reputation of frenzied attacks on unsuspecting prey, but in general, they are docile and prefer to scavenge for food. These mainly carnivorous fish do hunt other fishes, insects, crustaceans and worms. They also eat algae, fruits, seeds, and aquatic plants.

Life Cycle

Red-bellied piranhas breed during the rainy season. Females lays around 5,000 eggs on submerged vegetation, often in bowl-shaped nests that the males build.

Population Status & Threats

This species is not considered threatened. Collection and trade may pose a low risk. Red-bellies are a common food fish for human communities in the Amazon.

WCS Conservation Efforts

WCS works in the Amazon – home to many piranha species – to save wildlife and critical habitats.