Mark Magnera of St. George, Utah finally got the opportunity to fish The Boiler pond. And boy, did he reel up something odd.
Magnera had scoped out two big fish in a warm-water pond in Washington City. The pond, known as “The Boiler,” had been closed for the previous 15 years, and Magnera headed out to fish it for the first time on June 12.
“We go down there and the first thing I see is two big, dark fish,” said Magnera. “I’m a fisherman, so I wanted to catch one of them. I came back the next day and I caught one and I had no idea what it was.”
Because he wasn’t sure if the fish was endangered or not, he only took photos and then tossed it back. Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources officials saw the photos and confirmed that the fish was a pacu, a South American freshwater fish that’s related to the piranha.
Lucky for Magnera, pacu are known as the “vegetarians of the piranha world.” However, while not carnivorous, pacu do have powerful jaws like piranha for eating seeds and nuts, and can be dangerous.
Pacu are popular with personal aquarium owners and have been known to make responsive pets. Unfortunately, some owners get tired of upkeep necessary for these fish.
Richard Hepworth, the DWR southern region aquatics manager, said The Boiler is where many people dump aquarium fish. Magnera said that he saw hundreds of pacu in the water that day.
Hepworth said the best way to get rid of aquarium fish, if a pet store won’t take it, is to destroy it.