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Mother and Son Catch Red-Bellied Piranha in Pennsylvania

CBS Pittsburgh

South American fish is a surprise catch in Pennsylvania! 

Pittsburg isn't generally a place you think of when you think of piranhas. But one woman and her son caught just that in a Ross Township lake.

This isn't something out of a horror movie. The Allegheny County Parks Department believes it was simply someone's released pet. After conferring with wildlife officials, they were able to confirm they had indeed, caught a red-bellied piranha.

"It's unfortunate that someone released this fish into the lake, but it's also an opportunity to remind members of the public that animals and pets should never be brought to the parks and let go," Parks Director Andrew Baechle said in a press release. "It's not good for the park, the animals or our residents."

In a bit of bad luck, the fish flopped back into the water and escaped as the woman her son took photos after removing it from the hook.

While the fish is back in the water, officials told CBS Pittsburgh the fish really only poses a danger to anglers attempting to remove it from a hook. Because the piranha is a warm-water, South American fish species, if not caught again, it will likely not survive the winter anyway.

Cases of piranha and their close cousins, the pacu fish, being caught in North America seem to surface several times a year. The pacu seems to pop up more frequently than the piranha. Most recently, pacus have been pulled out of unlikely places like New Jersey, Utah and California.

Note to aquarium enthusiasts, don't release these fish into the wild. They are invasive species and you could get in quite a bit of trouble if caught doing it by wildlife officials.

Pittsburgh officials are asking people to report any further catches a piranha or other invasive species to proper authorities.


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Mother and Son Catch Red-Bellied Piranha in Pennsylvania