A fish known as a Pacu — with strange human-looking teeth and known for reports that they eat testicles — has turned up about 10 miles from New York City, according to NorthJersey.com.
The fish is native to South America, but was caught on Sunday in Passaic, a town in Northern New Jersey. The 10-inch fish was caught by Tom Boylan on Sunday while he was fishing.
The fish is actually much less dangerous than its piranha cousins, and doesn’t generally have an appetite for flesh. According to LiveScience’s Megan Gannon:
… its teeth are used mainly to crush nuts and fruits, the pacu eats other fish and invertebrates and there have been some reports of human attacks. In Papua New Guinea, the invasive species has reportedly earned a reputation as the “ball-cutter” after castrating a couple of local fishermen.
There’s not too much to fear from their toothy bites, even for swimmers. They usually attack floating fruits and nuts that drop from trees in the Amazon, which isn’t usually how humans swim. Their teeth aren’t even made for cutting flesh, but for crushing these nuts, William Fink of the University of Michigan told CNN:
And unlike piranhas, which have rigid, razor-sharp interlocking teeth, pacus have teeth that resemble human molars and fit together in a similar bite, Fink said. The pacus use those teeth to crush their food, not to rip it apart — or off.
Larry Hajna of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told NorthJersey.com that they get a few sightings of Pacus a year.
We don’t yet know if these invasive fish have settled down in these areas and established breeding populations or if the reports are from single fish released by their owners into the water.
“Most likely, someone had it in their fish tank and it grew too big, so they dumped it,” Pat Egan, manager at Absolutely Fish, told NorthJersey.com.
“We call them ‘tank busters.’ We don’t even sell them because they grow so big.”
The fish live in brackish — semi-salty — waters in rivers near the ocean. They prefer it warm out, so it’s not likely these fish will survive the Atlantic winter.
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