Vegetarian Piranhas?

on November 8, 2013

A type of vegetarian piranha has recently been discovered in the Amazon rainforests.


Image: Tommaso Giarrizzo in Neotropical Ichthyology

This is a male vegetarian piranha, Tometes camunani.

What does a piranha eat? Piranhas have a reputation for devouring unsuspecting animals that wander into the waters where they live. You may have heard scary stories about piranhas, or seen them on display at the zoo.

Did you know that not all piranhas are meat-eaters? Amazingly, a type of vegetarian piranha has recently been discovered in the Amazon rainforest. This piranha, called Tometes camunani, is completely herbivorous.* Herbivorous is a word used to describe creatures that eat plants. Tometes camunani prefers to live in quickly moving water. It likes to eat plants that grow in the rocky outcroppings located in rapids. The name, Tometes camunani, “is taken from the language of the Wai-Wai people that share its corner of the Amazon rainforest. They use the fruit of the camu-camu tree as bait to catch and eat the fish.”* The vegetarian piranha can grow to a length of approximately 20 inches, weighing around 9 pounds.


Image: D. Bastos, 2008, through the journal Neotropical Ichthyology

Riverweed plants cling to rocks in the clear rapids of tributaries in the upper basin of the Rio Trombetas in Pará, Brazil. This region is the exclusive habitat of a recently discovered vegetarian piranha.

On Day Six of the Creation Week, God said that everything He had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). We know from the Bible that all fish ate plants at this time (Genesis 1:29–30). It was only at some point after Adam and Eve’s sin that death and predatory behavior began. Finding vegetarian fish in a species that is known for it’s predatory behavior shouldn’t surprise us.

To find out more about other unexpectedly vegetarian creatures, please read:


* Mitchell, Elizabeth. “Vegetarian Piranhas’ Teeth Point to Pre-Fall Perfection.” News to Know, October 31, 2013, Answers in Genesis.