The red-bellied piranha, also known as the red piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri), is a species of piranha native to South America, found in the Amazon, Paraguay, Paraná and Essequibo basins, as well as coastal rivers of northeastern Brazil.This fish is locally abundant in its freshwater habitat. They are omnivorous foragers and feed on insects, worms, crustaceans and fish. They are not a migratory species, but do travel to seek out conditions conducive to breeding and spawning during periods of increased rainfall. Red-bellied piranhas often travel in shoals as a predatory defense, but rarely exhibit group hunting behavior. Acoustic communication is common, and is sometimes exhibited along with aggressive behaviors. Through media influence, the red-bellied piranha has developed a reputation as a ferocious predator, though this is not actually the case. They are a popular aquarium fish.
The typical diet of red-bellied piranhas includes insects, worms, crustaceans, and fish. In packs up to hundreds, piranhas have been known to feed on animals as large as egrets or capybara. Despite the piranha’s reputation as a dangerous carnivore, it is actually primarily a scavenger and forager, and will mainly eat plants and insects during the rainy season when food is abundant.[They also tend to only feed on weak, injured, dying, or dead animals in the wild. Red-bellied piranhas do not stay in groups in order to pack-hunt for larger animals, but instead group for protection against predators.
Foraging methods vary throughout the different stages of a piranha's life. Smaller fish will search for food during the day, while larger fish will forage at dawn, in the late afternoon, and in the early evening. Throughout the day, the fish lurk in dark areas and ambush their prey. The piranha may also catch prey by hunting and chasing, where it will lie hidden in the vegetation until its prey swims by. The piranha will then capture its prey. When scavenging, the piranha will eat a wide variety of food, ranging from pieces of debris, insects, snails, fish fins and scales, and plants
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