Exotic Pets: Fish Edition

While a fish may certainly seem like an easy pet to care for, what if your fish is a pet piranha?

Most people think of killer fish when they envision a piranha. Did you know some people keep them as pets—and that owning piranhas as pets is on the rise? They can make interesting pets for the right exotic pet owner, if you live in a state where it is legal to possess one. (Some states also require permits.)

The most common piranha to own as a pet is the red-bellied piranha. But this breed of the fish is true to its reputation, however, and is dangerous to humans. Other common piranha pets include the Black piranha and the Maculatus piranha.

Before adopting a pet piranha, future owners should understand a few things. For one thing, they should be in “packs”—or is that “schools”?! This means it’s best to keep them in groups of three, although five or more is better. Also, the piranhas can grow to be a significant size, so they need a tank of 50 gallons or more. A very important characteristic of piranhas is that they come from the deep—and dark—waters of the Amazon. For this reason, piranha owners should not keep lights over the tank. Owners typically use actinic (blue) bulbs to light the aquatic tanks.

As far as feeding goes, piranhas need live sources of food. One example of this is feeder goldfish. Owners feed their pet piranhas in different ways. Some owners provide a constant supply of food. Others provide live food for 10-15 minutes a couple times a week. As you might expect, these two methods produce two different forms of behavior for the fish.

Potential owners should research the risks and characteristics of these fish and feeding options before committing to them as pets.

Do you have pet fish? What type? Tell us about it in the comments!

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