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Much like sharks, Piranhas in fiction are vicious, intelligent and extremely hungry - they also swarm their victims much as their real-world counterparts do: unlike the real-world Piranha however most fictional portrayals show them as actively hunting down humans.
The idea of piranhas as vicious man-eating monsters come from local myths that the fish can strip full-grown humans and cattle of meat in seconds and are exclusive carnivores (in reality they are omnivores) - however despite these myths being proven false there are accounts of piranhas occassionally seeking humans as prey, though much like sharks this is rarer than fiction depicts.