Michigan waters have been hosting a type of Piranhas in various lakes recently, according to a new report by The Department of Natural Resources released on August 9th. The red-bellied Pacu, Piaractus Brachypomus, is a South American fish found most commonly in aquariums, as the U.S imports it.
However, local fishers have spotted the human-like teeth species on the State’s southeastern regions such as St.Claire Lake and Port Huron, leading the DNR to warn about possible findings in the future, though the fish is not considered as a clear thread yet.
The species is known for outgrowing home aquaria
The Piaractus Brachypomus is an Amazon fish referred as the red bellied-bellied pacu. The species is a close relative of Piranhas and Silver Dollars, and pet aquariums across South America commonly host the pacu.
It can grow quickly under favorable conditions, and although these fish are small compared to their relatives, they’re robust and vigorous, demanding ample swimming space. The Piaractus is known for being herbivorous, as it feeds mostly on fruits, nuts, and seeds. In some cases, the pacu could eat insects, zooplankton or smaller fish to survive.
The species grown rate is very fast, and often they can overpopulate an aquarium, causing owners or caretakers to release them in outside waters, or in this case, in Michigan’s lakes. Since pacus are not natives of the region, the DNR has cataloged their presence as illegal.
A South American fish with uncannily human-like chompers has been unexpectedly showing up on Michigan anglers'… https://t.co/buJfeAANwp
— wtfiscrackin (@wtfiscrackin) August 12, 2016
The DNR has not found indications of significant hazard from the pacus
The red-bellied pacus don’t pose an immediate threat to Michigan’s wildlife and fishers. The DNR clarified the fish is not causing harm to the environment, the economy or human health of the State. Therefore it can’t be considered as an invasive species.
26 more states across the U.S have encountered similar cases of the Piaractus before, but any of these locations have reported evidence of breeding populations. The Department estimates that pacus are unlikely to survive in Michigan’s waters as the species is of tropical nature and most certainly will perish due to severe cold during the winter.
Releasing pet fish could be dangerous and irresponsible
Nick Popoff, the manager of the DNR’s Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affair Unit, addressed the dumping of non-native fish into waters.
“PET RELEASE IS ALMOST NEVER HUMANE. PETS RELEASED FROM CONFINED, ARTIFICIAL ENVIRONMENTS ARE POORLY EQUIPPED TO FEND OFF PREDATORS” he said in a press release on the DNR’s website.
The department is currently conducting further research to measure the natural impact of the red-bellied Piaractus.