red bellied piranhas eating chicken

Can Piranha Eat Chicken?

With the Piranha being a notorious meat eating fish, many wonder what type of meat they can be fed. While normally eating fish, they do eat small mammals and birds in the wild.

So, can Piranha eat chicken? In short, yes you can feed Piranha chicken but it should not be a regular part of their diet. From a young age, Piranha are messy and aggressive eaters, and will devour what they are given, however their diet should mimic their natural diet as near as possible. Chicken can be full of hormones and preservatives and are high in fats. Juvenile Piranha should not be given mammalian or poultry meats until they are around 10 months of age. Chicken high in preservatives, like KFC chicken should never be given to any Piranha species. At most, any chicken, chicken hearts, beef hearts should compromise a small part of the Piranha diet, sat once or twice a month.

What Kind Of Chicken Should I Feed My Piranha

The diet of the Piranha is varied, and often will be comprised of what is available naturally. Swings in the seasons produce varied food sources throughout the year. Piranha are mostly omnivorous and can feed on fruits, seeds, nuts and plant matter.

From a live meats perspective, Piranha eat fish, worms, insects, crustaceans, amphibians and small birds in the wild.

While Piranha, especially in the dry season during the more scarce food months will might take a duck, chickens would be a very infrequent meal, if ever. Poultry of any kind in the wild is not part of their native diet.

juvenile red bellied eating chicken

Chicken meat, while not fatal or poisonous to Piranha is more likely to be high in hormones and fats. As are most of the mammalian meats, like beef and pork. This will cause, if fed frequently, an undesirable weight gain, and promote unhealthy fish. 

It also shreds quite quickly and you can have a very messy tank quite quickly.

So you can feed your Piranha chicken, but it should not be a predominant part of their diet. It should be an ‘occasional treat’ a few times a month. If you feed Piranha chicken, once or twice a month, then very few problems should arise. Up to around 5% of their diet seems reasonable.

As well as the meat, any organs from either poultry or mammals fit into the same category. They should only ever be fed chicken hearts or beef hearts sparingly. There are better meals to feed Piranha that aren’t complicated or difficult.

Chicken hearts can be used once or twice a month, but again it’s better to limit their diet to more natural foodstuffs.

Types Of Chicken To Avoid

As there are different types of chicken, perhaps it is best to clarify.

If you feed Piranha chicken or chicken hearts occasionally we are talking about frozen (to kill parasites) beforehand and chicken breasts.

We are not talking about chicken burgers, processed chicken or KFC chicken wings. These types of chicken are filled with hormones and preservatives that are harmful for Piranha. Will they eat them? Yes, but you should not be feeding processed chicken to Piranha if you are for healthy fish.

Fish Is A Better Alternative

Fish is a much better alternative to red meats or poultry anyway, which is readily available. You can vary the species you feed, but if you want to feed Piranha fish, make sure it is frozen beforehand and then thawed, so as to kill harmful bacteria and parasites.

The best type of fish, is freshwater white fleshed fish, similar to their natural diet. Catfish, bass, and flounder are all good, but so are shrimps.

Pink fleshed fish, such as trout and salmon you can feed piranha, but they are more expensive so the choice is up to you. They are slightly higher in oils and fatty acids so feed white fish as a preference. You may see a small oil film on the surface after feeding pink fleshed fish, especially something like tuna.

There are also red fish meats like sharks or swordfish. They are generally tougher meats and will make the tank extremely messy following a feeding. They are generally quite expensive, and when you compare them to the cheaper and better white fish meats, it’s probably better to avoid red fish meat, as well as pink fish meat.

adult red bellied in a large aquarium

The Age Of The Piranha Makes A Difference

Piranha can be rapacious and frenzied feeders, especially when the are mature and starved. As juveniles they would normally feast on plant matter and small insects.

In an aquarium, they should be fed often, as much as 2 or 3 times a day when they are young. Piranha are a fast growing fish, often about an inch per month until they are 8 months old.

It is considered good practice to use foods as near as possible to their natural diet as they grow. So, fruits, worms, insects, and fish, such as thawed out shrimp.

More human based foods, such as chicken and beef, although Piranha will eat them, are more recommended when they are young adults and stop growing quite as quickly. A Piranhas digestive system is still developing and high fat diets are unusual.

So if you want to feed your Piranha chicken, it’s best to do so around 8 to 10 months of age, and then only a few times a month.

close up red bellied piranha side on


So, yes Piranha will eat any form of chicken you give them, even the stuff that is not healthy for them or may damage their intestinal system. 

Juvenile Piranha shouldn’t be given anything that doesn’t naturally resemble their normal diet in the wild, as their intestinal system is still developing. The best food is shrimp or larvae.

If you want to give your Piranha chicken, like chicken breasts or chicken hearts, then it is best to do so on a limited basis. The same is true of beef based products.

They are often high in fats, and can contain preservatives which make for unhealthy Piranha in large doses of food. The meat portion of their diet should predominantly be fish based, if you want to raise healthy Piranha.

Once in a while does not hurt though, and does provide variety, best to try it and see. Rinse the meat thoroughly, freeze it to kill off any parasites or bugs and then thaw it to try it in the tank.

The main question is, why would you need to feed your Piranha poultry?

Plenty of people have raised a great many Piranha and have never given them poultry or indeed live fish. Sometimes you don’t need to overcomplicate things.

Piranha should definitely be given fish based products, ranging from shrimp to smelts or frozen trout if you feel like it. There are plenty of clean, whitewater based fish products, which Piranha are known to eat, are cheap and healthy for the care of your fish.

Especially when they are still developing from juvenile fry, which should only ever be given natural based foods.

It is probably best to keep your Piranha healthy with a good diet, and concentrate on keeping the water clean, and their environment appealing than worry about what exotic foods you can feed them. A healthy Piranha should be your goal.



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