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Hello,

After a disaster at work with a display tank of Red Bellied Piranhas, I have persuaded the boss that we might be able to find a fairly convincing alternative that will be easier to maintain and less tempting to ignorant staff members to throw in food at random (to show kids how piranhas feed) and cause a massive ammonia spike!

Can anyone suggest a largish, scary-looking Red Belly alternative?
I have been thinking of either some sort of oscar, large cichlid or something else like red-hook silver dollar...

We have a 6 x 2 x 2 foot tank and two large external cannister filters. We will also be fitting locks to the tank lid to avoid a repeat of last time!
 

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Pacus have a similar body structure to Piranhas, they even have a red belly version but they are a lot more docile than a Piranha.
 

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Pacus also get about 3 feet long, and can weigh in excess of 70 lbs. They shouldn't even be sold as aquarium fish.

If you are putting a lock on the lid, I would consider giving the Piranha another shot. If you or your boss are absolutely against Piranha, I would try one of the larger Central American Cichlids from Parachromis, either dovii or managuense. They get big, impressive, and aggressive. They react to people approaching their territory, and that kind of interaction is something a lot of people find fascinating. Also, that tank is large enough for a pair of managuense, and people are often amazed at the sight of a huge pair of fish protecting their tiny fry.

I also like Amphilophus trimaculatus as a display fish, the little red pig-eye gives them an evil look. However, they are not piscivores like the two Parachromis. They are quite aggressive; a group of 15-18 inchers at the Detroit Zoo Reptile House some years back used to steal feeder mice from the 2-3 foot Caiman being raised up in a very large display tank. James K. Langhammer was curator of the Reptile House at the time, and had thrown some young in there from his spawning of the species back in the early 70s.
 
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