Serrasalmus eigenmanni – Eigenmann’s Piranha

Serrasalmus eigenmanni or Red Hook Piranha are not that big and can reach a maximum length of 20 centimeters. They are best kept in a species aquarium.

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Serrasalmus eigenmanni – Eigenmann’s Piranha

Serrasalmus eigenmanni was first described by Norman in 1929. The genus name Serrasalmus can be broken into two Latin words. Serran or Serranus means saw. Salmo means Salmon. The generic name eigenmanni is a reference to the scientist Eigenmann who has done a lot of research into animals. Their common name is Red Hook Piranha.


This species does not grow larger than 20 centimeters, although full-grown specimens are very rare in captivity. Adult specimens are clearly recognizable by the black spot just behind the gill cover while the gill cover itself is colored red / orange. This red extends to the throat of the fish. Due to the round shape of the operculum it looks a bit like a hook. Hence the common name Red Hook Piranha.

Distinctive/unique features:
• Clear eyes.
• Clearly visible humeral spot.
• V-type caudal fin.
• Concave headshape.


Brazil, Venezuela, French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana.


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.

It may take a while for the fish to accept prepared food: if this is the case, make sure that the fish is well fed with live food, then insert a fasting period of one week to 12 days. Provide the desired prepared food during this period while the lighting is dimmed or switched off. If it does not work for the first time, feed them some live food and try again. Piranhas can go without food for a couple of weeks without any problems, so the fish is not in danger during this period (except for specimens smaller than 8 cm!)

The Aquarium

The aquarium for Serrasalmus eigenmanni must be at least 120 x 50 x 50 centimeters tall for adult specimens. Young fish can be kept temporarily in a smaller aquarium, with a minimum size of 80 x 35 x 40 centimeters.

The aquarium must be equipped with sufficient hiding places, obtainable through the use of (bog) wood, stones and / or plants. This to meet the often somewhat skittish nature of this fish. In addition, there must be sufficient open swimming space available, as this species is a fast swimmer. Optionally, a pump can be used for additional flow in the water.

Compatible Species

None. Because of its fin-nipping habit and intolerance towards other tank mates, this species should be kept alone in a species tank. In some rare cases, a Pleco, Raphael Catfish or other heavily armed catfish worked out.



Jonas Hansel –

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