The piranha is one of those fish about which many stories and legends are told. One persistent myth is that there is only one species of piranha. Actually, there may be as many as 60 different species!
Another colorful story is that the piranha is strictly carnivorous and likes nothing more than to gang up on a prey in a bloody feeding frenzy.
Researchers now believe the primary purpose for the piranha’s well-known schooling behavior (a group of piranha is known as a “shoal”) is as a defense against its own predators! To add weight to that theory, today it is known that some species of piranha are vegetarian.
Regardless, it is easy to understand why so many aquarists want to add the piranha to their home tank. The piranha cost can vary greatly as this article will explain.
Piranha Fish Purchase Price
Piranha are South American fish where they congregate in the freshwater rivers as they have been doing for an estimated 25 million years!
Some species of piranhas can bark like dogs using an organ called the “swim bladder” to produce vocalizations.
With this kind of unique talent, you would expect the piranha cost to be through the roof. But one barking species – the red-bellied piranha, is advertised for sale for $10 per fish fry (very young, small fish) at Trin’s Fish.
However, as the piranha gets bigger, the price can increase rather dramatically – a 3” to 3.5” red belly piranha at Aquascape Online is priced at $80 and a 5” to 6” red belly is priced at $130.
Some species of piranha are quite a bit rarer than others and these may have price tags to match. Aquaspace Online offers gold piranhas 5” to 7” ranging in price from $300 to $400. The 10” blue diamond rhom piranha is $800.
Factors Affecting Piranha Fish Purchase Price
The biggest factor that can affect the cost is that these fish are not legal to own in every state!
Currently, 24 states ban the sale or purchase of piranha at some level. In some states, the ban is complete while in others it is permissible to own piranha for educational or display purposes. Some states only ban certain piranha species.
Be sure to check with your state before purchasing piranha (even online) as fines for violating the ban can range from $500 up!
Other factors that can influence the price for piranha include size and species.
Some species of piranha can reach up to 24 inches or longer in adulthood and weigh eight pounds or greater. They can live for 20 years, although 10 to 15 years is more common.
Piranhas grow relatively rapidly during the first several months of life – usually about one inch per month. Once they have reached the length of seven inches, their growth generally slows down to between one and two inches every 12 months.
Since piranhas have such a long lifespan, it can take a very long time to raise them from a fry (hatchling fish). Even though fry is relatively cheap compared to adult fish, many aquarists want grown fish a size suitable for display. This can drive the price up by hundreds of dollars.
Some species of piranha can be kept in schools, but it is a myth that all piranha can be kept with others of their kind. Some can only be kept in a solitary state or they will snack on each other!
Similarly, some piranha species are quite common and popular, while others are rather rare and hard to come by.
One-Time Piranha Fish Costs
The environment and habitat you set up for your piranhas will make all the difference in their health and longevity.
In a wild state, piranhas prefer a very specific type of environment. In captivity, they rely on you to replicate their native habitat in the warm river waters throughout South America.
These general guidelines nearly always apply:
- Low light or natural light only.
- Warm water temperature of 75° to 80°F (23° to 27°C) with pH range of 5.5 to 8.0.
- Typically, piranha is best housed alone or with its own kind.
These tank supplies will help you maintain a healthy captive environment for piranha:
- Marineland® 60 Gallon Heartland LED Aquarium with Stand. $185 and up
- Lots of artificial or edible real plants. $8 and up
- Plenty of hiding caves. $15 and up
- Gravel and smooth rocks. $9.45 and up
- Wet/dry filtration system. $200 and up
- Tank heater. $45 and up
- Tank monitor (pH, temperature). $149 and up
Ongoing Piranha Fish Costs
The type of food your piranha requires will depend on the species you select. Some species are omnivorous while others are herbivores.
No piranha species is purely carnivorous, although some do prefer animal or insect protein when available.
Veterinary care, should your piranha ever require it, generally ranges from $20 to $80 per visit.