More catches of this out-of-place South American pacu fish in Michigan.
The pacu is showing up more and more where it does not belong. Now the Michigan DNR is confirming at least three of the omnivorous South American fish were caught out of lakes in the state this month.
At least two of the catches came from Lake St. Clair according to Mlive.com. The lake where the third was caught was not specified. “We’ve never seen any small fish, so there is no sign of any reproduction, and those that show up are always caught in the middle of the summer,” DNR Biologist Mike Thomas told Mlive.com.
The pacu is well-known for their human-like teeth and they can grow to up to 100 pounds. These latest Michigan catches happened between July 14 and 15. At least one of the fish was turned over to the DNR.
It’s not the first time pacu have been caught in Lake St. Clair, but Thomas noted to the news site that the fish is native to the warm waters of the Amazon River and most likely cannot survive a Michigan winter. DNR surveys have never turned up a pacu in the lake during the winter months.
The out-of-place fish are most likely released pets. “They’re a very popular fish in the aquarium trade,” Thomas told Mlive.com. “When they get too big, they start eating other fish and they set them free.”
It’s not an uncommon practice unfortunately. Pacu have been caught recently in other lakes in Utah, California and New Jersey. The same thing is happening across the pond in Europe where released pacu have also been caught by fisherman.
Releasing these species into the wild is illegal in Michigan and most other areas. In Michigan, anyone caught releasing a non-native species is taking a chance at a misdemeanor charge which could result in jail time and fines.
The news of these pacu catches comes right on the heels of the capture of a piranha, the pacu’s close cousin, in a Pittsburgh pond last week. Officials believe that piranha also ended up in the pond as a result of someone illegally releasing their aquarium pet.