Scientific Name:
Serrasalmus spilopleura (Kner 1858)

Common Names:
Spilo, Gold Piranha, Gold Spilopleura, Ruby Red Piranha, Purple Spilopleura.

This species is found in the Rio Guaporé river basin in Brazil.

Maximum Size:
Up to 30cm. (12").

Body Characteristics:
Juvenile S. spilopleura look very similar to other very young Serrasalmus piranha's (and Pygocentrus species as well), and have a silverish coloration, often with hints of green towards the upper body. They are covered with numberous small dark spots and have a very concave head shape. The older this fish gets, the more convex the shape of the head gets, until it very much resembles Pygocentrus piranha's. The usual color is bright gold to yellow in the lower body, changing to a silverish yellow the further you get to the back. Some specimen are covered faded dark spots, but this is not very common. The fins on the lower side of the body are yellowish, the dorsal and adipose fin are dark grey. The caudal fin is lightly colored with a darker base, and has a dark terminal band. The eyes are red.
There are a number of regional color variations and very similar species, of which it still has to be established whether they are the same species or not. Obviously these varieties make proper classification a very tough job. These 'odd-ball' variations can have a purple sheen on the flanks, sometimes only in the head region, sometimes the entire body. Others found in the Rio Araguaia area have a bright orange-red underside of the body, from the lower jaw up to the base of the tail.

Distinctive/unique features:
• Tail fin has clear terminal band (hyaline edge).

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). Most people keep this species alone in a tank, as due to their fin-nipping instincts they are very aggressive regardless of tank size.

15°C 24-30°C 35°C

5.0 5.5-7.5 9.0
 Ideal conditions
 Suitable conditions
 Unsuitable conditions

Compatible Species:
The Spilopleura 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.

It is thought S. spilopleura belongs to a complex of similar looking, but slightly different species. These differences can be caused by differences in habitat, diet etc.
Next to Pygocentrus nattereri, and more recently Pygocentrus cariba, Serrasalmus maculatus and Serrasalmus sanchezi, this species is one of the few species of piranha that has been bred in the home aquarium.

Some pictures of Serrasalmus spilopleura

Adult S. spilopleura
Photo by: George Fear

Adult S. spilopleura
Photo by: x-J-x

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