Piranha, a freshwater fish of South America noted for its ferocity. It is also known as the caribe. There are several species of piranhas, found in Venezuela and south through Brazil. They are from about 8 to 18 inches (20 to 45 cm) long, with deep, thin bodies that may be silvery blue, green, brown, or black.

PiranhasPiranhas are South American fish noted for their ferocity.

Piranhas may attack any living animal—including man—that enters the water they inhabit, and often eat their own kind. They attack in large schools, sometimes gathering by the hundreds to strip the flesh from a large animal. Piranhas are good food fish, but are hard to catch as their sharp teeth cut lines easily.

Are Piranhas Really Dangerous?

Piranhas (pih RAHN yuhz) have triangle-shaped teeth that are razor-sharp. The fish are known as cruel killers. Sometimes they swim in large schools. They may attack a large fish or other animal in the water. The piranhas will use their sharp teeth to chop their victim into tiny bits.

However, piranhas are not always that deadly. In fact, they usually swim alone. They eat small fish as well as seeds and fruits that fall into the water. Piranhas rarely attack people.

Piranhas swim in rivers and lakes in South America. And they are kept as pets around the world. Because they eat so much and can be expensive to feed, some pet owners have released them into local waters. This practice has introduced piranhas to habitats outside their native range. In these new environments, many piranhas have eaten large numbers of fish, frogs, and other water animals.

Piranhas belong to the family Characidae.