Common name: white piranha
Synonyms and Other Names: redeye piranha
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: Serrasalmus rhombeus represents a geographically widespread complex of closely related species in need of systematic review. A key covering piranhas from many regions of South America was given by Géry (1977); however, that work is dated and should be considered incomplete. Recently published keys cover fishes only from single regions or drainages (e.g., Nico and Taphorn 1986). Jégu (2003) published a list of currently recognized species in the subfamily. Photographs of S. rhombeus have been provided by Géry (1977), Goulding (1980), and Nico and Taphorn (1986). A few distinguishing characteristics were given by Fink and Machado-Allison (1992) and Taphorn (1992). Live Serrasalmus rhombeus have red eyes; body color changes from silver in juveniles and young adults to black or dark purple in large adults.
Size: 40 cm SL.
Native Range: Tropical America. The species complex is widely distributed in lowland areas of South America east of the Andes, including the Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo basins and various coastal drainages of the Guianas and northern Brazil.
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
This species was stocked in Florida in an isolated sinkhole pool at Monkey Jungle, a tourist attraction in the Miami area of Dade County in 1963 or 1964. Those fish reproduced and sustained the population for 13 or 14 years until all were killed with rotenone or removed alive by state personnel in September 1977 (Shafland and Foote 1979; identified as Serrasalmus humeralis) (museum specimen). Two specimens were taken from an abandoned swimming pool in South Miami, Dade County (Courtenay et al. 1974). A single fish was taken from a pond in Gainesville, Alachua County in 1985 (museum specimen).
Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Serrasalmus rhombeus are found here.
Table last updated 11/30/2021
† Populations may not be currently present.
Means of Introduction: All fish were probably aquarium releases. A small number of live fish were intentionally stocked at one locality in Florida in the early 1960s (Shafland and Foote 1979).
Status: Failed and/or eradicated in Florida. A locally established population south Florida was exterminated in 1977.
Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.
References: (click for full references)
Courtenay, W. R., Jr., H. F. Sahlman, W. W. Miley, II, and D. J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.
Fink, W. L., and A. Machado-Allison. 1992. Three new species of piranhas from Brazil and Venezuela (Teleostei: Characiformes). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 3:55-71.
Géry, J. 1977. Characoids of the world. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Goulding, M. 1980. Fishes of the forest: explorations in Amazonian natural history. University of California Press, Los Angeles, CA.
Jégu, M. 2003. Serrasalminae (Pacus and piranhas). p. 182-196. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.). Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.
Nico, L. G., and D. C. Taphorn. 1986. Those bitin' fish from Venezuela. Tropical Fish Hobbyist 34(4): 24-27, 30-34, 36, 40-41, 56-57.
Shafland, P. L., and K. J. Foote. 1979. A reproducing population of Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes in southern Florida. Florida Scientist 42:206-214.
Taphorn, D. C. 1992. The characiform fishes of the Apure River drainage, Venezuela. BioLlania (Guanare, Venezuela), special edition 4. 537 p.
Leo Nico, and Bill Loftus
Revision Date: 4/30/2018
Peer Review Date: 7/10/2012
Leo Nico, and Bill Loftus, 2021, Serrasalmus rhombeus (Linnaeus, 1766): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=431, Revision Date: 4/30/2018, Peer Review Date: 7/10/2012, Access Date: 12/2/2021
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.