Michigan: Another Pacu Panic?

Another specimen of the South American piranha relative has been caught, this time in Michigan. Doubtful News has previously covered pacu stories from Denmark, Paris and New Jersey, as well as the panic associated with unsourced “testical eating” claims about the species. Fortunately, some of the coverage has been less credulous this time around, though with at least a few sensationalist exceptions.

Fish caught in Lake St. Clair looks like piranha, but it’s no man-eater (Detroit Free Press):

While the fish is being identified properly, hopefully through the University of Michigan, [an acting fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)] said it is believed to be a pacu, which has teeth and eats fruits, nuts and seeds. Unlike piranha, which have pointy, razor sharp teeth, pacu teeth are more squared off like human teeth.

There have been various media reports of pacu being described as testicle biters, but a University of Michigan researcher told CNN last year that there was no record of them having attacked a human, that the fish are fruit eaters and they use their teeth to crush seeds.

According to the Michigan DNR representative, the most likely origin of the fish is having been dropped in the lake by a pet owner after outgrowing its tank, a harmful practice as the fish is not native to the lake. Many non-native species are either maladapted or become invasive in the new environment.

See also:

Pacu from Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

Pacu from Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

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  8 comments for “Michigan: Another Pacu Panic?

  1. Bill D'Arcy
    July 16, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    We Australians have an invention called bowyangs. I plagiarized the following definition directly from Wikipedia:

    Bowyangs are pieces of cord, rope or leather that are tied just below the knees and their main purpose is to stop dust, grass seeds, insects and snakes going up the legs of farm workers.

    Should work against pacu too.

  2. Todd
    July 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Hey, if the media reported that they munch testicles, that’s good enough for me. Since I live in MI, I sense a business opportunity, selling jock cups (whoops, I mean testicle armor) at the beach. I need a catchy name…

    • Lagaya1
      July 16, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      How about Nutshell? I can picture the ads now…

  3. Roger
    July 16, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    @Todd:
    “Nard Guards”?

  4. July 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    If the news reports pacu as ‘testicle eating’ or ‘ball biting’ fish based on an unconfirmed report or two, then they must also start referring to dogs in news articles as ‘castrating companions’ after this very real and confirmed case of dog bites manhood:
    http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2013/07/30/dog-eats-paralyzed-mans-testicle-as-he-sleeps/

  5. Mike C.
    July 17, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Its been a long time but I have seen Pacus in aquariums before. They do sell small ones in pet shops. But the ones I saw (in aquarium pet shops) were in 300 gallon tanks. They grow to about 3 feet long and weigh abround 40 lbs.

  6. Mike D.
    July 18, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    They also taste great!

    • Lagaya1
      July 18, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      You mean the fish, or….

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