Red Bellied Piranha

Best and Worst Tank Mates for Red Bellied Piranhas

As you know from my previous posts (hopefully), I’m a huge fan of Red Bellied Piranhas (RBP). Anyone who already has or is thinking about getting one as a pet should know that these fish require specialized care. By that, I mean you have to make sure that their living space is good enough to accommodate their size and temperament. One way you can assure that your Red Bellied Piranha is living a blissful existence in its tank is to ensure that it won’t be tempted to tear its tank mates to pieces! Relationships are hard enough as it is, don’t you think?

Worst Tank Mate Options

Just because you have a large tank to accommodate your RBP doesn’t mean you have to fill the tank up with fish. A big tank with just a few fish will help minimize the possibility of violence since you are dealing with a fish that is moderately aggressive (at best) and of course, has razor sharp teeth. So, to be sure that you’re providing a safe and comfortable environment for all the fish in your tank make sure you avoid the following when you’re building your aquarium around an RBP (or more than one RBP):

  • Red Bellied Pacu – The Red Bellied Pacu is a cousin of the piranha and can grow to be incredibly large. They can grow up to three feet in length in no time and require a special diet (you already have one special diet to consider, why complicate things?). The size of the Pacu can be enough to set your RBP on edge and push it into attack mode. Don’t take the risk!

  • Tiger Shovelnose Catfish – The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is another large fish (rumored to grow anywhere between four and eight feet long) that won’t think twice about eating its tank mates. If you put an RBP and Tiger Shovelnose Catfish in a tank together, things are going to get ugly fast.

  • Smaller fish (i.e.: Tetras, Tiger Barbs, Giant Danios, etc.) – They may be quick, but at some point, they will become lunch.

Generally, it’s not suggested very often that you pair your RBP with any other type of fish but those (in my opinion) are the ones you need to avoid. Especially the first two, because they’re not good community fish and they’re often tagged as “tank busters.” You don’t want the personalities of either fish clashing with your RBP.

Best Tank Mate Options


While a lot of piranha owners don’t endorse getting tank mates for the Red Belly Piranha, there are a few options as long as you have a large tank (75 gallon minimum and more if possible).

  • Other Red Bellied Piranhas – If you don’t want your Red Bellied Piranha getting lonely you can always pair it with a handful of others – just be careful.

  • Raphael Catfish – I haven’t tested this one myself, however many of the piranha-related forums mention that this one could be a good match because they come out at night, while RBPs general come out during the day.

  • Mystery snails – Mystery snails don’t seem to attract any more attention than a rock. They’ll also help keep the tank clean.

  • Lobster – According to a number of forums around the web, Lobsters often make good tank mates for a Red Bellied Piranha as long as they both have plenty of tank space to call their own.


Disclaimer – Just remember that when you’re outfitting your aquarium with tank mates for your RBP, any fish you put in there is at risk of being eaten! If you care for a particular fish… don’t take the chance. If you are the adventurous type… then by all means, proceed!
When you have a sec, check out our FUN STUFF section for other interesting piranha-related thingamajigs (or is the politically-correct word thingamabobs?) like merchandise, games, etc. I’ll keep adding more in the upcoming months. Also, you can sign up for our NEWSLETTER to keep up-to-date on the latest information about our friendly neighborhood tough guys. PiranhaGuy Out.


  1. For what it’s worth, I’ve had Raphael Catfish mixed with RBPs before and it’s a hit and miss. Only 2 out of 3 of the RCs survived. Not bad I guess…

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