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He may look like a huge terrifying piranha but is actually a friendly vegetarian.

The Black Pacu also known as the Tambaqui are found throughout much of the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America. They have been introduced in New Guinea as a food source in 1994 to the Sepik River, and in 1997 to the Ramu River. They have also been introduced in multiple countries in South America including Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela; in Central America including Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Jamaica, and Panama; and the United States of North America.

This fish looks very similar to that of the famous piranha however their diets are very different which causes them to have different teeth. Piranhas have pointed, razor-sharp teeth in a pronounced underbite, whereas pacu have squarer, straighter teeth, which are uncannily similar to human teeth. Pacu, unlike piranha, mainly feed on plant material and not flesh or scales. They are solitary, and as juveniles they live in the black waters of flood plains, feeding on insects, snails, and decaying plant matter. Adults move to the flooded forest areas for the initial few months of the flood season, and feed on fruits and grains.

Similar to the red tailed catfish these fish tend to be purchased for home aquariums before outgrowing their tanks and needing rehomed with many other Aquariums such as Deep Sea World adopting them. It is amazing when looking at our Amazon exhibit to imagine the size of tank you would need in your home to give these monsters of the amazon the space they need.


Fish: Giant vegetarian piranha

What do they eat?

Fruits, plant matter, snails and grains


Max 106cm

Water Type

Fresh Water/ Brackish

Where are we?

Amazon, Orinoco, São Francisco River and Río de la Plata Basins

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