Serrasalmus compressus – Compressus Piranha

The Compressus Piranha is rare in the wild (including captivity), and its natural habitat is limited to the Rio Madiera and a number of tributaries.


Serrasalmus compressus – Compressus Piranha

Serrasalmus compressus was described in 1991 by Jégu and Dos Santos. Their common name is Compressus Piranha. In stores, they are often offered under the wrong names Altuvei Piranha, Black Piranha, Rhom(beus) Piranha.


Compressus Piranha is rare in the wild (and therefore also in captivity), and its natural habitat is limited to the Rio Madiera and a number of tributaries.


Red(ish) eyes. – Pattern on the sides consists of stripe and elliptical spots, not circles like most Piranha species. – Concave shape of the head.

The aquarium

At least an aquarium of 120x50x50 centimetres for adult specimens. Young fish can be temporarily kept in a smaller aquarium, with a minimum size of 80x35x40 centimetres.

Plants, driftwood and/or rocks provide hiding places. The lighting should be dim as these animals become very skittish and shy when the lighting is too bright. A powerful filter system is an absolute must, as these predatory fish produce large amounts of waste and are rather sloppy eaters. A filter with a minimum capacity of at least 1.5x the aquarium is highly recommended. A flow pump can be placed to give the water some extra movement, but keep in mind that these animals do not naturally live in fast-flowing water.


Fish (fillet, frozen whole fish such as smelt, live fish), shrimp, mussels, insects, earthworms, bloodworms, mealworms, mosquito larvae, tubifex, flakes, tablet food.

* When feeding live fish, there are a number of things to keep in mind: Firstly, all fish can introduce diseases and/or parasites into the aquarium, including goldfish, windes and other commonly used cold water fish as well as tropical fish. It is therefore also advisable to first keep feed fish in a quarantine aquarium for a week or 2, in order to ‘flush’ out the sick and weakened specimens. In addition, it should be taken into account that goldfish and close relatives are not particularly nutritious. A diet that usually consists of live fish is therefore not recommended. All the more so because goldfish and other Cyprinidae (carp-like) contain hormones – so-called “Thiaminase / Vitamin B1 inhibitors” – that paralyze the production of certain growth-stimulating substances in predatory fish. A very one-sided goldfish diet can therefore lead to growth and development disorders!

It may take a while for the fish to accept prepared food: if so, make sure that the fish is well-fed with live food, and then fast for a week to 12 days. During this period, feed the desired prepared food with the lighting dimmed or switched off. If it doesn’t work for the first time, supplement with live food and try again. Piranhas can go without food for a number of weeks, so the fish is not at risk during this “cure” (with the exception of specimens smaller than 8 centimetres!).

Breeding Serrasalmus compressus – Compressus Piranha

Compressus Piranha has not yet been bred in captivity, given its rarity and very intolerant behaviour towards conspecifics.


Compressus Piranha is very similar to Serrasalmus altuvei, but can be distinguished from this species by the pattern, which is visible over the entire flank (in S. altuvei the pattern shows hardly or not at all below the lateral line).



Jonas Hansel –

Copyright images


Additional information





Social Behaviour

Breeding behaviour


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