What is your first thought when you hear “How much does it cost to buy a piranha?” Crazed pet owners? A future serial killer? Perhaps someone that has gone one step too far in developing an unexpected and effective booby trap? If so, it may surprise you that piranhas are actually considered great pets, and fabulous additions to home aquariums.
Piranhas have long had the reputation for being ferocious, blood-thirsty, and violent without discrimination. Many people have the image of swarms of fanged fish reducing whole cows to skeletons in mere seconds and attacking people that stumble into the water accidentally. If your idea of owning a piranha is influenced by a desire to watch it tear apart smaller animals, and perhaps teach it to attack on command, you shouldn’t bother to read any further and set your sights rather on a different pet.
The reality is piranhas are relatively calm animals. Though they are known to be aggressive in the wild, particularly when in large groups and in a feeding frenzy, they are generally shy and calm when in smaller groups and during non-feeding times. You may get the opportunity to see them eat a few live fish during their daily feedings, but it is unlikely that it will be as dramatic and primal as you may think.
If you want to own a piranha because it is a beautiful and interesting animal, however, you have chosen a good pet. Remember that these animals do not like to be alone, but that they tend to be wary of fish that are introduced into their school once it has been established. This means that you should purchase your entire school at the same time to prevent any conflict. If you intend on breeding your piranhas, you will notice that the mothers will be very protective of their young.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Piranha?
Despite their being much less frightening than their cinema reputations would lead you to believe, piranhas are illegal in several states. Notably, they cannot be owned, bred, sold, or distributed in any way in California. In those states that allow piranhas as pets you are likely to find only the most timid of the species, which are known as red-bellied piranhas. Each individual piranha will cost somewhere between $7 and $15.
You really shouldn’t ask “how much does it cost to buy a piranha?”, but rather, “how much does it cost to buy a school of piranhas?” The minimum number of piranhas that is recommended for a home aquarium is four, but they will be happy in larger groups as long as your aquarium can accommodate them. This means that you should be prepared to pay between $28 and $60 for a small school.
Piranhas do not like to be in small areas. They prefer to dwell in the center of the tank, and need plenty of room to swim around. When choosing your tank it is important that you find one no smaller than 60 inches long, and 24 inches deep as well as wide. This is a large enough tank to accommodate no more than six individual fish. Any more fish would need a larger tank. Keep a close eye on all of your fish to ensure that none of them are being singled out as the weakest member of the group. If one is identified it may be bullied or even eaten by the others.
Piranhas like warmer water, meaning that the temperature of your tank should be kept at a consistent 72 to 82 degrees. These are relatively hearty fish, but should not be subjected to very alkaline conditions or hard water.
One behavior of piranhas that can be encouraged by the set up of your tank is their love of hiding. You should use decorative hiding places as well as bogwood and strong plants along the floor of your tank to give your fish plenty of places to lurk.
Feeding Your Pet Piranha
To keep your piranhas healthy and happy you should feed them two different types of food. The first is live or frozen fish, shrimp, mussels, and other small animals. Be sure that if you are feeding live animals that they are in good health, as feeding diseased fish can be harmful to your pets.
You should also feed your piranhas food pellets. This food will supplement the nutrition that they get from the meat in their diet and ensure they stay healthy.
“How much does it cost to buy a piranha?” is not answered just by the price of a fish. If you are committed to owning piranhas you must be prepared to buy a sizable aquarium and plenty of food to support the entire group.