Piranha feeding

You really want a pet piranha? Part 4 – Dinner Time!

Ok, so you’ve set everything up and your pet piranhas are lounging around in your aquarium, looking pretty. Now what? Well, first things first, you need to figure out their meal plan.

What can you feed your piranhas?

Obvious right… feed them anything? Not quite. You could try and feed them a left over egg salad sandwich and they might try to eat it, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Just like humans, you have to make sure that your piranhas eat a balanced diet to make sure they stay healthy. Feeding them table scrapes is not going to cut it.

Piranha feeding isn’t extremely complicated. The red belly piranha (the focus of this series) is a meat eater so meat-like products should be a huge part of their diet. But, you can’t just feed them meat all the time. It’s important to switch with other types of food.


Here is a list of piranha foods that have worked for me in the past and other popular suggestions that I found on different forums:

  • Frozen fish/seafood like cod, salmon, tuna, catfish, shrimps, krill, mussels and squid. You can buy these in pre-made cubes that are easy to serve up, or make your own.
  • Pellet food such as Hikari Gold or
  • Small pieces of vegetable like celery, cucumbers and peas (some prefer the shell off, others on) can be a good addition to their diet.
  • Pinkie mice. (This one seems to be very popular; however I haven’t personally tried this one myself though so I can’t comment.)
  • Live feeders. I’m putting this one last because there is a lot of debate around this one. Lots of people believe that it is ok to feed live fish (minnows, tetras, etc.) to piranhas, while others believe that you should never do it. The main reason is that live feeders are prone to disease which can then be transferred to your piranhas. One way to help with this issue is to quarantine the live feeders in a separate aquarium for a few weeks before introducing them to your piranhas. It’s not fool proof but it may help.


How often do I feed them?

Good question. The general rule of thumb is that juvenile red bellied piranhas should be fed 2-3 times per day and adult piranhas should be fed once every other day. Also, one thing that I highly recommend is to clean up the leftovers 4-5 hours after they are done eating. If you don’t, the food will rot and pollute the water, making your job at maintaining the aquarium that much harder. Doing this will make sure you aren’t constantly mucking around with the water chemistry and doing water changes.

One more thing to keep in mind is that when you first get them, they may refuse to eat. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes they just need a few days, even a week or so, to adjust to their new environment. The same goes when introducing new food.

Next and final post of this series – Maintaining their inner sanctum.

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.


Other posts in this series:
You really want a pet piranha? Part 1 – The basics
You really want a pet piranha? Part 2 – Aquarium supplies
You really want a pet piranha? Part 3 – The set up
You really want a pet piranha? Part 5 – Maintain The Piranha Tank

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