Copyright Edouard Paiva. Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission.WELCOME TO OPEFE ARCHIVES


Valid as; Serrasalmus manueli 

Fernández-Yépez & Ramírez, 1967








*From Frank Magallanes: There appears to be contradiction between Winemiller and the fishermen on the type of water being either black or clear water. According to my research with a well known scientist from that region; it is really clear waters, but acid as they found in Aguajales or morichales, is not black water. The problem with the term white water, according to this expert,  is that name is used to define water with lot of sediment load such as the Apure or Orinoco River. 


Another issue coming to light is the resemblance to S. humeralis, (view) a primarily Brazilian fish found in a few other localities. It could be S. manueli might be a sister to this species. But the problem is probably deeper than that since there seem to be several fish called S. humeralis. With the recent 2010 publication of a new species S. odyssei, the name S. humeralis appears and is used for part of the material. I will be looking very carefully to find out what exactly is going on. More on this later and I will update accordingly.


The best I can offer are these photos identified as S. manueli, Venezuela and from the rio Negro and rio Xingu.




A very sensitive to water conditions species, preferring pristine water. Which is fairly common with any piranha species. In some research quarters, they are considered as indicator species for water conditions. Much like the canary was used for mining operations. Listed as S. humeralis in some literature via photos (erroneously) from Brazil and reported to be the species bred (illegally) in captivity at a Florida amusement park. The species turned out to be Serrasalmus rhombeus (Fink, Leo Nico correspondence) a totally different species.




Considered by some aquarists as a delicate species in need of good water quality and oxygenation. Recommend keeping as solitary species. This species commands high prices in the hobby. Certainly not a fish for beginners. Expect mortality if not properly cared for. Aquarium size would likely be in the 100 gallon minimum or largest aquarium you can afford to buy. Frequent water changes (3x per week at 10-15%) suggested.


This type of pirambeba grows huge, some  exceeding 33 cm SL (Machado-Allison and Fink 1996). David (Schleser) in his Piranhas A Complete Pet Owners Manual states that "Manuel's piranha can grow to at least two feet (61 cm) in length."  These fish are being captured in Venezuela and in particularly the Rio Xingu. Without a doubt a fish best left for the largest of aquariums. It has the distinctive dark "V" caudal fin and hyaline edging. This and S. gouldingi juveniles are very close in appearance. Below is the citation that pertains to this particular species and a translation to be used for educational purposes only. The large shoulder blotch is distinctive of this species. Some forms in the lower Amazon are grow larger. Usually found with S. rhombeus.



The map shown herein are approximate range of certain species. It does not show the complete range.

Verified as S. manueli, G Orti, 2008. OPEFE Educational Use only. Copyright belongs to photographer.

Specimen collected by Guillermo Orti

Bildergalerie, S. manueli, rio Xingu OPEFE Educational use. Rights reserved photographer.

Rio Xingu 

I'm uncertain this is the correct collection point.

Bildergalerie, S. manueli, rio Xingu OPEFE Educational use. Rights reserved photographer.

Rio Xingu Juvenile

I'm uncertain this is the correct collection point.

S. manueli Para State, Brazil, OPEFE educational use. Copyright image reserved for photographer.

Para State, Brazil

I'm not convinced this is the correct species.

Identified by Michel Jégu Locality: Rio Negro.

Rio Negro


WATER (Venezuela/Rio Cinaruco)


These are deep water fish and need good slow to medium aeration (Venezuela species). They are normally found in river channels, however they can also be found in Creeks, Lagoon, and Sand banks. The fish inhabits *black water regions (pH 4.-5.8 with low conductivity) according to Winemiller, et al. 1997. The area also undergoes a period of a dry season from October - March. The rainy season runs from April - September.


According to fishermen, as told to Edouard Paiva,  in that region of the Rio Cinaruco in Venezuela you find many Serrasalmus manueli, the water is detailed here:

- The PH values goes from 4,6 to 6. The visibility is very good up to 2 meters deep and it has very few nutrients and minerals dissolved.
- The water is clear or transparent.
-  It is a deep river the fishermen say that it is normally from 15 to 20 meters deep.
- The water temperature goes from 25 to 30 centigrade.
- The river has a very low current, calm water.

WATER (Brazil/rio Xingu)


Large adults are caught in very deep water in fast flowing rivers of clear water. The river has many rapids, therefore if you intend to keep S. manueli from the Brazil region, you will need a good power head and a very large aquarium for adults;  (100g or more). pH 6.9-7.3, 5-12 dH, 75-82 F (24-28 C).




Semaprochilodus kneri, Hydrolycus armatus and other common fish species are found with S. manueli. Edouard Paiva sent pictures of a big Serrasalmus manueli captured in Rio Cinaruco in Apure State in Venezuela. It weighted 2.2 kilograms 4.84 pounds and its total length is 41 centimeters (16 inches). According to the information of the fishermen in that river it can grow a lot more than that up to 52 centimeters long and more than 3 kilograms.


Body condition and Fat stores increase significantly during this falling -water period (Jepsen et a. 1997). During the low-water season progresses, virtually all Cichla have empty stomachs, and gonadal maturation occurs in preparation for spawning just prior to the beginning of the floods (Japsen et al. 1997, Jepsen and Winemiler unpublished data). Likely, S. manueli may also fall into this category of physical changes during that period.

Photo property of OPEFE and Edouard Piava.

Rio Cinaruco, Venezuela

Edouard holding large S. manueli

Photo property of OPEFE and Edouard Piava

Closeup of body

COPYRIGHT. TFH Publications, Inc., Educational Use Only.

S. manueli large adult, The Piranha Book (1972), pg. 17. Photo by H. R. Axelrod




Eicchornia spp. Paspalum repens and other Graminaceae.




The species is known to frequent the rain forest where its diet includes seeds and fruit. It is found in the low Llanos of Venezuela (Machado-Allison and Fink, 1996 and Schleser 1997). Semaprochilodus species may be one of the foods of S. manueli, but little study has been done to confirm it. Likely, S. manueli feeds off the fins and flesh parts.




43.5 cm TL (probably grows larger).




WILLIAM L. FINK: Pygocentrus manueli, Fernández-Yépez and Ramirez (1967), described as a Pygocentrus from the Rio Paraguaza of Venezuela. This species is a Serrasalmus and is discussed by Fink and A. Machado-Allison (unpubl..) and Fink and Machado-Allison (1992).


Patrón de coloración en vivo:


Photo property of Traumatic, PFURY, Permission granted OPEFE use.


Los ejemplares juveniles de esta especie presentan un cuerpo de color plateado (verdoso) uniforme, con una gran mancha caudal y varias marcas o barras oscuras transversales en el cuerpo. Las aletas son incoloras y transparentes. En los adultos el cuerpo es generalmente plateado plomizo hacia las regiones dorsolateral y posterior del cuerpo. Las regions pectoral y pélvica son anaranjado a rojo fuego. Una mancha transversal alargada se dispone cubriendo tres cuartas partes de la región lateral y amarillo a anaranjado hacia las regiones ventrolateral y mandíbulas. El iris es rojo. Aletas dorsal y anal grisáceas. La anal con una mancha negra en la región disal de los primeros radios. Caudal y adiposa muy oscuras en en adultos de gran tamaño, más claras en adultos jóvenes. Mancha basal caudal en forma de "V" acostada. Aletas pectoral y pélvicas de color rojo o anaranjado tenue.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Pattern of live coloration:  


Photo property of Jonas Hansel. Permission granted OPEFE use.

S. manueli. Photo courtesy of Jonas Hansel



S. manueli photo by Frank MagallanesThe juvenile examples of this species uniformly present a body of bright silver (greenish) color, with a large, prominent caudal blotch and various spots or bars, which are dark and cross-sectioning the body. The fins are monochrome and transparent. In the adult, the body generally is bright silver towards the regions dorsolateral and back of the body. The pectoral and pelvic regions is orange to bright red. A huge extended blotch part transverse nearly three fourths with the lateral and yellow region to orange towards the ventrolateral and mandible region. The iris is red. The dorsal and anal fins are grayish. The anal with a black margin in the distal region of the first radii. The caudal and adipose are very dark in in large adults, clearer in young adults. A prominent 'V" forms the caudal basal spot. The pectoral and pelvic fins may be red or reddish-orange coloration.












The OPEFE web site and its contents; is disclaimed for purposes of Zoological Nomenclature in accordance with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, Fourth Edition, Article 8.3 and 8.4. No new names or nomenclature changes are available from statements at this web site.


Copyright© 1994-2012 Oregon Piranha Exotic Fish Exhibit (The OPEFE fish exhibit is permanently CLOSED as of 2000) Sutherlin, Oregon. Information posted on this web site is archival data on fish scientific classifications and other information. DISCLAIMER: The copyrighted material may not be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research. Cited information requires credit and this link All rights reserved. All images shown  (unless otherwise noted) is property of OPEFE. 


website security

UPDATED: 12/26/2011