|Hydrolycus scomberoides (lower illustration) and Rhaphiodon vulpinus (upper illustration)|
The payara's most noticeable feature is the two long fangs protruding from its lower jaw. These fangs can be 4 to 6 inches long. Payaras grow to be around 3 feet long with an average length of 1.5 ft. The payara's diet mainly consist of smaller fish; they impale other fish with their sharp teeth and consume them. In the Amazon River Basin, payaras are restricted to tributaries above the mouth of the Rio Tapajós.
In popular culture
In the aquarium
The payara, which is also sold as the Saber Tooth Barracuda, Vampire Fish, Vampire Tetra, or Saber Tusk Barracuda, is a popular species for large, aggressive aquariums. It can grow large enough to outgrow a lot of fish tanks, which presents a problem to the uneducated aquarist. It is recommended that they be fed live food, such as goldfish. They should be kept with fish that they cannot fit in their mouths, for example: Siamese tigerfish, arowanas, gars, pacus, catfish, and pig-nosed turtle.