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Hydrolycus scomberoides.jpg
Illustration of Hydrolycus scomberoides
Scientific classification
H. scomberoides
Binomial name
Hydrolycus scomberoides
(G. Cuvier, 1819)[1]

The payara, Hydrolycus scomberoides, is a species of dogtooth tetra. This predatory fish is found in the Amazon Basin in tropical South America,[2][3] it was the first of four species to be described in the genus Hydrolycus.[4]


The most noticeable feature of H. scomberoides is the two long fangs protruding from its lower jaw. These are used to puncture prey swim bladder rendering mostly smaller fish unable to escape,[3] it typically reaches a standard length of about 30 cm (1.0 ft),[3][4][5] but can reach up to 51 cm (1.7 ft).[6] There are reports of far larger individuals, up to 1.17 m (3.8 ft) in total length and 17.8 kg (39 lb) in weight, based on records by IGFA,[2] but this likely involves confusion with the related H. armatus.[3][4]

H. scomberoides is overall silvery with a dark spot behind the opercle and another at the lower base of the pectoral fin. In adults the tail is dusky on the basal half, turning paler (more transparent) towards the tip.[4][7]

In the aquarium[edit]

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 requires a large aquarium and can only be mixed with relatively large species, as smaller will be seen as potential prey.[3]


  1. ^ "Hydrolycus scomberoides". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Hydrolycus scomberoides" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
  3. ^ a b c d e SeriouslyFish: Hydrolycus scomberoides. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Toledo-Piza, M.; N.A. Menezes; and G.M. Santos (1999). "Revision of the Neotropical fish genus Hydrolycus (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Cynodontidae) with the description of two new species". Ichthyol. Explor. Freshwaters. 10 (3): 255–280.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Payara—Hydrolycus scomberoides". Acute Angling. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  6. ^ Brambilla; Garcia-Ayala; Travassos; Carvalho; and David (2015). "Length-weight relationships of the main commercial fish species of Tucuruí reservoir (Tocantins/Araguaia basin, Brazil)". Boletim do Instituto de Pesca. 41 (3): 665–670.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Subfamily Cynodontinae". OPEFE. Retrieved 19 October 2017.