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New Piranha Keepers!


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#1 Scars

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:21 AM

If you’ve found this forum, then you have an obvious interest in the Piranha.


This write up is aimed towards the hobbyist that has never owned piranha before. You may have seen a documentary, or been in a local fish shop and happened to see a few live specimens for sale. In my write up I’m going to help you choose tank sizes, equipment, cycling your tank, choosing a piranha, introducing your new fish, and general care in the early days. I hope this write up helps you make the best choices for your piranha, you, and your wallet.

The first topic we will discuss is going to be what kind of piranha do you want? For the new piranha keeper, choosing a fish can be hard because there are so many kinds of piranha and each bring something new to the table. I’m going to reduce the confusion by recommending red belly piranhas for group fish, and spiloplueras or maculatus for the solo fish. The red belly piranha is the cheapest and easiest shoaling piranha to keep. They are a great ‘learning fish’ for the new aquarist. Their tanks are active and lively, and their feedings are exciting and fast. Red belly piranha, RBP, are inexpensive and can be found for sale at any size needed. There is no shortage of RBP. If the school or shoal of fish isn’t what you want, then maybe look more into solo piranha. There are many piranha that do best alone in their tank. The two solo piranha I suggest, the maculatus and the spilopluera, are both beautiful and have a wonderful personality. So decide what kind of piranha you want. The group of red bellies, or a solo mac or spilo.
Spilo and Maculatus (Photos used with permission from OPEFE)

Spilo
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Mac

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The same fish, same tank, two months later.



Next order of business is the tank. If you chose the Red bellies, we need to stop to think about how many to determine how big the tank needs to be. 10 RBP babies would thrive in a 55 gallon tank, for a few months. Red bellies grow fast. A common mistake is a person buys a few rbp's and puts them in a 10-20 gallon tank. They fit now, but not in a month. RBP grow about an inch a month for the first 6 months. With that said they need tanks wider than normal. A fully grown red belly is usually around 10-12". a 20 and 30 gallon tank is only 12 inches wide. Piranha dont care so much about top water as they do about their tank's footprint. Having a single red belly piranha I would recommend a 40 gallon breeder tank. This tank is 36 inches long, and 18 inches wide. Quite a large footprint compared to a 55long which is 48 inches long and 13.5 inches wide. Now with this said, I believe a 30 gallon long tank would be the minimum for a mac or spilo. But a 40 gallon would be best for the new aquarist. The general rule of shoaling piranha is to have 5 or more. The more the better. So we'll say for the beginning aquarist, 5 rbp babies, or juvieniles, in a 75 gallon tank. The 75 gallon tank is 4 feet long, and 18 inches wide. The 90 gallon tank is the same but a few inches taller. Remember this is just a guide line, if you can afford a bigger tank dont hesitate. These fish get big, and they get territorial. They need their space. So to sum this all up, A solo spilo, mac, or RBP should be fine in a 40 gallon breeder tank, and a shoal of rbp should be in a 75 gallon or larger.

Now that you've got your new tank its time to think about what equipment you're going to need. Filtration is the first and foremost issue here. The cheap Hang on Back (HOB) filters that come in those package deals aren't for us. We're looking at canister filters or high end HOB filters. The aquaclear line of HOB filters are inexpensive and easy to maintain. Otherwise piranhas need a canister filter. When shopping for a filter don't look at the "how many gallon tank" rating on the box. Look for the gph rating. You want to filter all the water in the tank multiple times an hour. So if you have a 40 gallon tank, find a canister filter rated for about 160 gph. If you have a 75 gallon with multiple fish, look for filters closer to 300gph. These canister filters you're looking at should price out between $90-$200. The filtration means everything in your tank. Now for the heaters. The safe way to do this is to get two medium sized heaters. A 200w heater can handle a 40 gallon no problem, but its safer to have two 100w heaters instead. If one heater breaks then the water wont freeze til you replace it.
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Multiple Heaters

Okay! Now you got your new tank and equipment home. Once you set up the tank on its stand, add substrate, water, treat the water, add decorations, put in the heaters and set the temp, connect the filter(s) and get them running. It looks like a fish tank, but there is no fish! We're going to start the nitrogen cycle. There is a cycle that happens in a fish tank and I will do my best to make understanding it simple. Fish, food, dead fish, and dead plants give off a chemical called ammonia. This ammonia is poisonous to fish. There happens to be a bacteria that grows in your filter media, your gravel, and decorations that "eats" ammonia and gives off nitrite. Nitrite is also poisonous to fish. But luckily there is another bacteria that grows and it "eats" nitrite and gives off nitrate. Nitrate is safe for fish and this is what live plants take in for growth. When this cycle starts it has HUGE spikes in ammonia and nitrite, enough to kill our beloved fish. After the initial cycle the tank creates a well balanced system that keeps the ammonia and nitrite levels down. There are many write ups out here that actually walk you through cycling. They go into much more detail.


Now that your tank is cycled, it ready for your PIRANHA! Do not just dump them into the tank! We have to acclimate them to the new water. I like to put the piranha in a bucket with his transport water. and slowly add water from the new tank to his bucket. After about 30-45 minutes the water should be the same temp, hardness and pH to introduce the piranha into his new home. Try to do this as stress-free as possible. Once your piranha is in the tank, let him calm down and explore his surroundings. They may not try to eat for a few days. Leave the tank lights off for a few days. Slowly get them into the normal routine. They are stressed, and scared, and it will take a little while for them to calm down. If you have baby red belly piranhas don't wait to feed. These guys are used to eating 2-3 times a day. Many argue that the baby piranha cannibalism is because of hunger.


Welcome to the piranha owning community! Keep watching your fish and keep reading here at the forum. You'll learn alot and soon your fish will start to show it. Thanks for reading!


All photos were my own photos or from the OPEFE website used with permission. Don't steal people's photography without permission.

Edited by Scars, 20 July 2012 - 08:19 PM.

  • epesiete, ryan10, Loyalty32 and 2 others like this

#2 hastatus

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:26 AM

Good thought put into this. Nice write up.
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#3 Scars

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:33 AM

Thanks frank. Anything I over looked, or should add to it?

#4 Smoke

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:39 AM

Pics added after each paragraph might look nice. Nice write up.
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#5 hastatus

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:44 AM

Thanks frank. Anything I over looked, or should add to it?


Let other members fill in. There might be something that I'm not thinking of.
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oh you live in oregon? must make you an expert on piranhas

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#6 Scars

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 11:53 AM

Frank, could I use opefe pictures to use as examples of macs and spilos?

#7 hastatus

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 12:04 PM

Frank, could I use opefe pictures to use as examples of macs and spilos?

Sure. :)
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oh you live in oregon? must make you an expert on piranhas

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#8 Grosse Gurke

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 12:19 PM

When shopping for a filter don't look at the "how many gallon tank" rating on the box. Look for the gph rating. You want to filter all the water in the tank multiple times an hour. So if you have a 40 gallon tank, find a canister filter rated for about 160 gph. If you have a 75 gallon with multiple fish, look for filters closer to 300gph. These canister filters you're looking at should price out between $90-$200. The filtration means everything in your tank.

I dont really agree with this section. There are 3 different kinds of filtration....Biological filtration, Mechanical filtration, and Chemical filtration.
Bio filtration is less dependant on turnover and more on how much media a filter has and how effecient the filter is. An AC110 greater turnover then an Eheim 2215 canister...but the 2215 is much better at bio-filtration.
Conversely...Mechanical is more dependent on turnover and less on media.

The reason I dissagree is because the most important filtration is Biological filtration...that is what is used to cultivate the nutrifying bacteria used in the cycle. So I dont agree that you overlook the rating of the filter. If you have a solo fish...that rating is fine. If you are grouping fish...you will want to increase the amount of filtration depending on your bio-load. That load is dependent on many factors so I generally start with 2-3 times the rating. So for a 75...Im looking for enough filtration to manage a 225 gallon aquarium. I am also going to diversify my filtration to accommodate a large bio-load and mechanical needs....so a canister and power filter combo is best imo.

On second thought...not sure your writeup really needs to go into that kind of detail...but because I just wrote this up...Im posting it. :wacko:

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#9 Scars

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 12:26 PM

I agree that the different types of filtration are necessary but i didnt want to go into too much detail. I figured for a beginning hobbyist this would be a good place to start. I do agree a mech HOB and a canister filter loaded to the gills with biomedia is a near perfect combo for most setups.

#10 CyberGenetics

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 02:53 PM

good stuff :)

#11 Piranha Dan

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 03:16 PM

Great job man, nice easy read that explains all the basics.
Only two things I'd change--you're going to spend more then $200 on a canister filter for a larger tank, you're more in the $300-$400 range for something that can filter a larger tank.
I also agree with GG--turnover isn't as important if you have a cannister with a larger media capacity. My XP4 only outputs 160GPH or so but with 6 liters of bio media in there it's more then enough to do my 120g. At one point I had 6 full grown Reds and a 9" Pleco in that tank and that one filter did the job just fine.
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#12 ______

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 09:31 AM

Great write up!! Very informative to the new aquarist..... There is only one thing I think need a bit more attention


READ READ READ.... LEARN LEARN LEARN

when caring for Piranha never assume you've got it down, there is always new info and different ways to do things that might suit you better and as long as your willing to put in the time here on the forum and learn all you can by reading about other owners first hand experience you'll go far in this hobby.

Good Luck
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#13 Elong Nick

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 03:44 AM

Good job !!!
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#14 Scars

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 07:11 AM

Thanks guys, i was trying to keep this simple and easily understood for a beginner aquarist setting up their first piranha tank. After they get the basics setup then i figured they would read more and tweak their setup as they see fit. Cheers!

#15 65galhex

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 07:25 AM

Good write up.

Great write up!! Very informative to the new aquarist..... There is only one thing I think need a bit more attention


READ READ READ.... LEARN LEARN LEARN

when caring for Piranha never assume you've got it down, there is always new info and different ways to do things that might suit you better and as long as your willing to put in the time here on the forum and learn all you can by reading about other owners first hand experience you'll go far in this hobby.

Good Luck



I couldn't agree more. Research and asking questions is essential. That is the only way to learn.
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#16 ACrowe25

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 10:30 AM

65 I agree with you 100%. In the beginning I was almost "afraid" to ask too many questions. Thought I was being annoying so to speak. Then when I decided to not to care what others thought about my questions, I realized members here are more then willing to help! So new keepers don't e discouraged to make a thread!
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#17 Scars

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 12:58 PM

Bump for the new guys.

#18 Johnny_Zanni

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 08:05 PM

Sticky?
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#19 His Majesty

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 04:09 AM

A useful thread and good starting point for noobs. pinned.
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#20 Scars

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 08:59 AM

Thank you guys, I feel so special :)







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