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Dead Pacu Found in Utah Has Officials Reminding Public to Not Release Pet Fish

Large dead pacu found in Cedar City.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recently announced the discovery of a large dead pacu fish in the Lake at the Hills in Cedar City.

Native to South America, the fish likely couldn't handle the cold of the Utah winter. Officials are using the discovery as a reminder to the public that releasing pet fish that have gotten too large for their aquarium is not just a bad idea, but it is illegal.

This sort of thing has become common enough that the DWR has created a whole page on their website dedicated to educating the public about the issue. Released exotic fish often have little chance of surviving the winter months in a colder climate.

The DWR also warns about the possibility of released fish multiplying and possibly becoming an invasive species problem. Released pets could also potentially introduce diseases or parasites to native fish.

There is precedent for this sort of thing. Pacu have been captured in Utah before. Three were captured in Michigan lakes last summer. California has also had their own issues with this fish that eats just about anything.

The pacu's relative is the piranha and they too, sometimes turn up in odd places. A mother and son caught one in Pennsylvania last July.

The DWR encourages people to call them in order to help deal with a pet that's gotten too big for its tank.