Red-bellied pirahna : Great Lakes Aquarium
Pirahna swimming in Amazon exhibit at Great Lakes Aquarium

Red-bellied pirahna

Exhibits: Amazing Amazon

Animal Groups: Fish

Latin Name: Pygocentrus Nattereri

Pirahnas are omnivores and feed on plants, seeds, fish, worms, and insects. They will also eat birds or mammals that fall into the water (alive or dead). Although they have a reputation for devouring large animals such as cows, this is uncommon and occurs only in times of extreme food shortage or stress.


South American rivers including the Amazon River. They are found in shallow lagoons, creeks and rivers in groups called shoals.

Animal Size: 10-14 inches long
Conservation Status: Not threatened

Natural History

Pirahna are schooling fish that use their numbers to protect against predators such as large fish, river dolphins and birds.