Turn down the lights and put on some music! It’s time for your piranha to “Get it’s Groove On!”
First of all, if you don’t know what “getting your groove on” means, just relax. You are on the piranha breeding page, but could use some culture.
Let me begin by saying that the breeding of piranhas in captivity is a rare occurance, and a difficult feat to manage. They just don’t seem to feel secure enough in the captive environment, and we still know far to little about this incredible species to breed them with much success.
Similiar to other tropical fish, piranhas in the wild breed following the rain forests wet and dry seasonal cycle. Spawning begins sometime in April (onset of wet season) with sexually mature piranhas (around 6 inches) and continues, on through late summer. Various piranhas spawn thoughout this time, and not all piranhas spawn at the exact same time.
During the breeding season, piranhas colors seem to change drastically. S. nattereri becomes a metallic blue with bright red bellies. This is the only one I’ve observed personally. The most beautiful color change doesn’t begin untill the onset of spawning though. Many piranhas seem to turn almost completely black. Even their fins turn quite dark. During this time, the piranha’s body is extremely sensitve to light, and if the proper (extremely dim) lighting conditions are not observed, then you probably won’t be able to see these beautiful changes.
O.k. now you know the backround, let’s discuss what you’re gonna need.
First of all, your’re going to need an extremely large tank. The bigger the better. Piranhas won’t spawn unless the conditions are perfect, and even then is is rare. Don’t even get your hopes up if you have a tank smaller than 100 gallons. A 200-300 hundred gallon tank will increase your chances dramatically. Secondly, you need to plant your aquarium densly and keep the lighting low. (Follow my guidlines on Caring for Piranhas) You should also place an abundance of natural peat moss in the tank for nest building, along with any commercial nest building material. The temperature of the tank should be raised to around 84 degrees Farenheit. These conditions won’t quarantee a successful spawn, as piranhas will only breed when they’re good and ready. Generating these conditions are metaphorically equivilant to “wining and dining” your piranhas.
There will be many tell tail signs if your piranhas are ready to spawn. They will become extremely aggressive toward each other, and they will have constructed a nest. Also, you will have noticed the color changes as noted earlier. On a side note: sexing piranhas is almost impossible. The best way to get a male and female together is to place several piranhas of the same species in the tank and allow them to pair up on their own.
After a successful spawn, you will see eggs deposited in the nest.
These eggs should be removed and place in a 20 gallon hatching tank. Place the water from your larger tank into the hatching tank and lower the temp. to 70 degees F. Use an undergravel filter in the tank. Don’t use any power filters, because the young will be sucked up into the filtering mechanism. The fry will hatch in around 5 days. They should be fed brine shrimp untill large enough for other foods. * Be careful when removing the eggs from the tank, because the male piranha will guard the eggs at all costs* If at all possible, the eggs should be siphoned from the nest, or the nest completely removed and placed in the hatching tank.
Even if you follow all of my steps, chances are you’re not going to be able to get your piranhas to breed for several years-if ever. Don’t be alarmed if your spawining piranhas get quite aggressive--this is normal and injuries are common. Good luck! Let me know if you’re successful!!