Can You Own A Pet Piranha? Is It Legal?

Wondering if you can keep Piranha as a pet? Piranha is a popular fish; however, the world knows it for its Scary reputation. It though is a blood-thirsty flesh-tearing aquatic being, but do you know it is a popular pet as well?

Yes, Piranha is a pet fish or schooling fish that draws the attention of aquatic enthusiasts worldwide. In the wild, there are dozens of Piranha fishes, but only a few of them are popular and available as pets. Also, due to the aggressive temperament and special needs, not every individual can pet a Piranha. Raising a Piranha needs someone who is patient, dedicated, well-educated (about the fish), and can commit extra efforts.

If you are wondering how difficult it is to keep a Pet Piranha, then check the article below:

What is Piranha? What Do Piranhas Eveolve From?

Piranha is a deep-bodied South American freshwater. It has a reputation as a fearsome predator and is quite common in freshwater lakes, floodplains, and reservoirs Piranha is a razor-toothed carnivorous fish with more than 60 species. Many of them often appear in school and are used as study material. Even though when Piranha is classified as extremely dangerous, most of their species depends upon only plant and algae. Only a few Piranha species feed on fish and might attack other living beings as well. Therefore, Piranhas are classified as omnivorous and feed on both meat and vegetation.

History of Piranha: According to the fossil remains found by scientists, piranha-like species are the earliest known flesh-eating fishes in the world. As per estimation, they lived about 150 million years ago. However, the historic Piranhas had more distinctive sharp teeth than the present-day ones.

Can You Own A Pet Piranha

Piranha Species Overview

NamePiranha
Other NamesBlood-thirsty flesh-tearing fish,
Caribe or Piraya.
Scientific NamesPygocentrus nattereri
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassActinopterygii
OrderCharaciformes
FamilySerrasalmidae
SuperfamilyErythrinoidea
SizeHeight (Length): 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm)
Grow up to 15 inches (38 cm)
Weight: 3 to 7 or more pounds
Lifespan10 to 20 years depending upon the species

Does Piranha Make Good Pets?

Piranha is an exciting pet for the right individuals. Raising them and dealing with them is slightly tricky, which does not make them good pets for everyone. That is why Piranha’s usage as a pet is banned in several regions.

And even where it is legal, individuals must undergo a lengthy licensing process before getting their hands on the fish. Certain types of Piranhas can also prove dangerous for humans; thus, it is better to research well before bringing them home.

Is It Legal To Keep Piranha As A Pet?

Piranha isn’t a regular aquarium fish, and that is why its possession as a pet is banned in several areas. Only experienced aquarists can and should consider keeping them as pets. As a result of the danger, Piranha as pets is prohibited in significant regions of Southern United States. As per the Noxious Fish List, they are even illegal to own in Australia. Neither these species can make it to the Australian ecosystem, nor are they suitable for the same.

However, Piranha is legal to own in Canada. No jurisdiction or province imposes any restriction regarding ownership of Piranha within Canadian boundaries. However, Canada’s inhospitable climate can make it difficult for Piranhas to survive. Even in any of the wild Canadian regions, it is significantly less likely or nearly impossible for any Piranha fish to make it through.

Are Piranha legal to own in the U.S.?

The legal status of Piranha fishes is different in every U.S. state. While nearly half of the states restrict or ban them, some allow their possession. Besides the States authorities, the local and regional authorities like municipalities too can regulate ownership of dangerous fishes like Piranha. A provincial government can still ban possession or trading of any specific animal despite the State government allowing it.

USA State list where Piranha is legal to own

States in the USA that allows owning Piranha as pets:

  1. Michigan
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Delaware
  4. Illinois
  5. Indiana
  6. Kansas
  7. Maryland
  8. Minnesota
  9. Missouri
  10. Montana
  11. Nebraska
  12. New Jersey
  13. North and South Dakota
  14. Oregon
  15. Pennsylvania
  16. Rhode Island
  17. Tennessee
  18. Vermont
  19. West Virginia
  20. Wyoming
  21. Wisconsin

Note: Before you bring a Piranha fish home in any of the above states, please research the procedure. Even though when the fish is legal to own, in some or several states, a permit or license can be a must. Therefore, do your research well before proceeding.

States in the USA where Piranha is banned or restricted

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Arizona
  6. Arkansas
  7. Hawaii
  8. Florida
  9. Colorado
  10. Kentucky
  11. Maine
  12. Georgia
  13. Louisiana
  14. Nevada
  15. New Mexico
  16. Mississippi
  17. Utah
  18. Texas
  19. Washington
  20. North and South Carolina
  21. Oklahoma
  22. Virginia
  23. Idaho
  24. Connecticut
  25. Massachusetts.

Owning a Piranha fish as a Pet- All that you might need to know

Piranha Housing Needs

Piranha is a fish, but it isn’t your regular aquarium fish. Baby Piranhas can temporarily make it in 20 gallons tank, though not for long. Housing an adult Piranha or a Piranha for the long term requires at least a 100-gallon or bigger tank. 

Add in a slightly oversized filter that is better with its mechanical and biological capabilities. Or, to maintain good water quality, you can also add multiple filters. Ensure the tank is well secured with a lid, or the pet Piranha might bounce out when feeling threatened. 

Also, go with dark color aquariums and make sure even the décor isn’t very bright. Piranha loves darkness, and thus keeping their aquarium in sunlight isn’t advisable.

Piranha Temperature and Humidity Needs

For housing a Piranha fish, consider keeping the water temperature between 75° and 80° F. If the water or room temperature drops below 75° F, an Aqueon Aquarium Heater will become essential. 

Use soft, low pH water. Maintain pH level between 6.5 and 7.8, alkalinity between 3° and 8° (50 ppm to 140 ppm). Most Piranha species can even reach the tap water, given it isn’t very extreme. 

Piranha Dietary Needs

Piranha fish is omnivorous, and their diet consists of both meat and plants. In the wild, they feed on multiple available things, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, carrion, and crustaceans. In instances of food scarcity, Piranhas may even eat the small fishes of their species.

While in captivity, try to replicate their wild diet. Besides managing their meat needs, you can also add fruits, berries, vegetables, seeds, and decaying plant matter. However, avoid feeding items like live goldfish or other feeder fish to your Piranha. 

Note: Do not feed your Piranha fish more than once a day.

Piranha Cleaning Needs

Consider changing 10% of the water weekly or 25% every 2 weeks. Cleaning the fish tank every once in a while will help the fish live healthy and disease free.

Safety Considerations with Piranha

While you own a Piranha fish in your home aquarium, some safety precautions are mandatory. 

For instance, never dip your hand directly into the Piranha tank. Remember, these fishes have extremely sharp teeth, and even a small pinch can pierce through your skin.

Besides that, never place your hand above the Piranha tank in case of any open wound. Even a drop of blood can attract Piranha, and the fish will probably jump to bite your wound. This can prove extremely dangerous and painful. 

While cleaning the Piranha tank, always use long tools. For moving the fish, use net mesh only. 

While feeding your Piranha fish, be quick and do not let your hand stay in or near water for long.

Advantages and Disadvantages of owning Piranha

  • They are available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Piranha fishes live long and thus are long-term buddies for enthusiasts who aren’t into short-term pet care.
  • They though may look dangerous but are quite appealing to watch.
  • Maintaining the Piranha tank, especially the pH level, is quite easy and hassle-free.
  • They eat only once a day, so you do not have to be there multiple times.
  • They do not ask for regular human attention.
  • Due to their aggressive approach, Piranhas are status symbols for many.
  • Piranhas can be extremely boring to watch.
  • Piranhas can prove very dangerous, and they can even bite apart your skin.
  • You cannot just keep one Piranha fish but at least 3 of them. 
  • Due to laws in several regions, getting a pet Piranha can be a long-term process.

How Much Does a Piranha Cost?

The purchasing cost of a pet Piranha can vary between $10 to $600 depending upon the species. It is advisable to keep a group of Piranhas as pets, thus assuming spending $70 to $100.

Their cost may also depend upon their size, color, shape, age, and the area you are purchasing at. If a permit is necessary, add up the cost for that as well.

Where To Buy a Piranha? Where To Find a Piranha Breeder?

Piranha fishes are easily available in fish and aquarium shops. You can also buy them from certified breeders or individuals who are reselling. However, while buying a fish that was already a pet, be extra cautious. 

Fun Piranhas Facts & Information for Kids

  • Piranha fishes are probably one of the oldest fishes present on planet earth.
  • Piranha is a cold-blooded fish that can’t control its body temperature. 
  • Piranha eats both meat and plant and is omnivorous.
  • For protection against predators, Piranha feed and swim in groups. 
  • There are over 50 species of Piranha and Serrasalmus geryi is the rarest of them all. 
  • Piranha is illegal as a pet in the southern United States, but they lived for a million years in South America. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a piranha eat or kill a human?

Piranha can bite or attack humans resulting in minor injuries. However, it is nearly impossible and never reported if a Piranha fish can eat or kill a human.

Can you put piranhas in a fish tank with other fish?

No, never put Piranhas with other fishes in the tank, or the former will possibly make latter her food. Piranha is meat-eating fishes that often feed on tiny fishes, even the ones from their tribe.

Are piranhas easy to keep?

Piranhas are relatively easier to keep for individuals who have already owned exotic fishes earlier. First-time fish owners might find it slightly difficult to manage these aquatic beings.

Wrapping up…

Can you have Piranhas as pets? Yes, if you are an aquatic enthusiast and have some knowledge about keeping Piranhas, you can surely have them as pets. These fishes are quite affordable, and keeping them isn’t as expensive as other exotic pets.

However, do check your local laws as well since Piranha as a pet is banned in many States and Countries. 

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