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Arizona's lakes and ponds, ordinarily home to trout, bass and catfish, occasionally become the dumping grounds for more exotic species such as pacu, a native of South America and a cousin of the piranha, known for its oddly human-like teeth.
How do they get there? Basically, owners with pets too big to flush opt instead for Arizona lakes. It's called aquarium dumping and getting caught in the act can cost owners their fishing license and financial damages.
Ordinarily, it's just pet goldfish, but every once in a while Arizona residents such as Susan Aavang, an Ahwatukee angler, catch one of the more exotic aquarium pets, said Scott Gurtin, community fishing program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Game and Fish has heard reports of pacu caught in Saguaro Lake, private lakes and SRP canals, along the Indian Bend wash in Scottsdale and a canal in Yuma; however, it doesn't doesn't have a database of aquarium animals in Arizona lakes, Gurtin said.
Nonetheless, Gurtin assures residents there's nothing to be concerned about. Pacu have little impact on local fish populations, don't ordinarily reproduce in Arizona habitats and don't bite people, he said.
"Pacu usually get people's attention because it's a relative of a piranha," Gurtin said. "Pacu are actually quite a bit different though."
Unlike piranha, pacu have flat, rounded teeth (like humans) that are more suited to feeding on vegetation, fruit and nuts than eating flesh. Though the fish can grow up to 55 pounds in their native environment of the Amazon basin, they ordinarily weigh one to two pounds in Arizona lakes.
Aavang, however, was lucky enough to catch a 3.5 pound pacu, which Gurtin said can be pretty tasty.
Aavang told azfamily.com she used a piece of hot dog as bait while fishing at an HOA lake near an Ahwatukee elementary school last weekend.
Does anyone find it funny that the fish was caught using a HOTDOG?
Discoveries in the United States have been reported in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas,California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois,Indiana,Kentucky , Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,Minnesota, Missouri,Nebraska,New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio,Oklahoma,Pennsylvania, South Carolina,Texas, Utah,Washington,Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
State wildlife authorities typically advise home aquarists who wish to get rid of overgrown pacu to cut the heads off the fish and dispose of them as garbage. However, Habitattitude, a U.S. national initiative led by the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force, recommends humanely disposing the fish through a veterinarian or pet retailer, returning them to retailers, or donating them to a local aquarium society, school, or aquatic business.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote of catching and eating pacu in his book Through the Brazilian Wilderness. He described them as "good-sized, deep-bodied fish," and noted, "They were delicious eating."
This delicious traditional Brazilian recipe for roast, stuffed, pacú works equally well with any number of alternative fresh water or salt water fishes. I have made it in Fortaleza with a red snapper variety named pargo, and I'm sure it would work equally well with bass, salmon or other species of fish - which is good news, as it's unlikely one would find pacú available outside Brazil.
1 whole pacú or other fish, approx. 7 lbs. (3 kgs.), scaled and cleaned
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
4 cloves garlic
1 cup water
6 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
20 leaves of kale (or collard greens), rolled and cut into thin shreds
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups farinha (manioc flour) - (in unavailable, substitute equal quantity of dried bread crumbs)
salt to taste
What came out of the river looked a little like a piranha - but without the pointed teeth.
"It had teeth that looked almost like a human's," Nelson said. "The bottom teeth looked like our back molars.
Jake's dad, Todd, is La Crescent's police chief. Todd went to Fred Meyer, retired director of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries lab. "Todd came to my house with a pail," Meyer recalled, "asking if I knew what it was. ... I took a look and told him ‘It's a Pacu.'
originally posted by: Kalomar
the fishermen here in denmark also caught one last year, they are supposed to be south American living only and vegan, i think they have the nickname nut eaters after an episode with a brazilian fisherman !!!