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Piranhas are infamous fish, known for their aggressive feeding habits. Although feared by many, most piranhas are actually timid fruit eaters that usually avoid people if well fed. They are mostly between 6" and 10" long and research has shown they also eat vegetable matter as well as meat and flesh.
They can be kept as pets, but be aware they are illegal to keep in some states in America. The most commonly found is the Pygocentrus nattereri or Red Bellied Piranha. These should be kept in large tanks and in groups of 3 or more.
The Piranha family Serrasalmidae was split into a number of genera, with true Piranhas in Pygocentrus, and others as pirambebas in Serrasalmus and other genera. Serrasalmus is the largest serrasalmid genus with around 24 species. The Serrasalmus species can be very tricky to identify, and there is little published information on the majority of species.
It has been known for the Piranhas' more peaceful vegetarian relative, the Pacu, to be mis-labelled and sold as a Piranha. Pacus grow much larger than Piranhas and need a very different diet. Fully grown Pacus can often be seen in public aquaria, at around 2 ft long. Public aquaria very rarely take in overgrown fish.