Scientific Name:
Serrasalmus maculatus (Kner 1858)

Common Names:
Ruby Red Piranha.

Very widespread, found in Venezuela, Surinam, Guyana's, Brazil, northern Argentina.

Maximum Size:
Approx. 30cm. (12").

Body Characteristics:
S. maculatus looks very similar to S. Spilopleura, but stands out because of a few features: only juvenile specimen have a clear terminal band on the tail fin (hyaline edge), where S. spilopleura keeps this characteristic throughout its life. Also, S. maculatus' ventral fins have a black 'tips', opposed to the clear fins of S. spilopleura.
Adult specimen, just like S. Spilopleura, have a for Serrasalmus-standards very convex head shape, and often resemble Pygocentrus-species in appearance. It also shares its bright gold-yellow coloration, although some specimen also have a partly red, orange or purple coloration.

Distinctive/unique features:
• Only juveniles have a clear terminal band (hyaline edge) on tail fin.
• Ventral fins have black tips.
Locality map

Juveniles and sub-adults can be kept in a tank measuring 32x14". When they reach a size of 4-6", a 40" long and 18" deep tank is more suitable to provide enough space to move and turn freely. Adult fish need a tank of at least 48x18x18".
When kept in a group, the tank should be at least 20" deep and 60" long (for 3-4 specimen: an additional 8" of length is adviced for each extra fish).

15°C 24-30°C 35°C

5.0 5.5-7.5 9.0
 Ideal conditions
 Suitable conditions
 Unsuitable conditions

Compatible Species:
The Maculatus Piranha is one of the few Serrasalmus-species that has been succesfully kept in a group, despite the fact that is is not very tolerant towards tank mates, and in particular its own kind. However, due to it's parasitic lifestyle (scale-eater, fin-nipper) and aggressive character, these are rare occurences, and attempts are usually shortlived. All in all, it is best to keep this species as a solitary fish: attempting to shoal this species is only recommended to very experienced piranha keepers!

Fish (fillets, frozen fish and live feeders *), shrimp, prawns, mussel, squid and other sea fruits, earth worms, meal worms and other insects, flakes, pellets, granules.

* Live fish need to be quarantained first, so they are safe to feed (containing no disases or parasites). Goldfish, minnows and other members of the Cyprinid family (Carp-like fish) should be avoided, as these fish contain growth-inhibiting hormones (Thiaminase/Vitamine B1 inhibitors) that could negatively affect the fish's health and development.

In the wild, as well as in the home aquarium, this species is an aggressive scale eater and fin-nipper when smaller.


Some pictures of Serrasalmus maculatus

Small group of subadult S. maculatus
Photo by: Peter Lockhart

Adult Serrasalmus maculatus
Photo by: Adrien Leroy

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