Pacu (Myletes pacu)



Pacu is a common name used to refer to several common species of omnivorous South American freshwater fish that are related to the piranha.   Pacus inhabit most rivers and streams in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of lowland Amazonia, where they form part of the highly diverse Neotropical fish fauna.   However, these fish are being caught in rivers and streams all over the United States.   It is believed that some captive species are being released into the wild by aquarium owners when they out grow their tank.

Full-grown pacus are much larger than piranha, reaching up to 3 feet and 55 pounds in weight, in the wild.   Their coloration is usually dark brown or black.   Pacu and piranha don’t have similar teeth, although the main difference is jaw alignment.   Pacu have more square, straighter teeth – like a human, in a less severe under bite and not nearly as razor sharp as the piranha.   But don\’t underestimate the power of their bite…they have been reported taking nasty bites into fishermen.

In the wild, most Pacu eat primarily plants, fruits, insects, crustaceans and seeds, only opportunistically taking bites of fishes’ fins or scavenging on an old carcass.   These creatures are increasingly becoming more popular in sports fishing due to the incredible fight they put out.


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