Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Characiformes (Characins)
Family: Serrasalmidae

Genus/species: Colossoma macropomum

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Compressed body. The body is laterally compressed with an arched back. Color is basically gray to olive above, dark below often with spots and blemishes in the middle. All fins are black. Length to 100 cm (40 inches).. Weight to 30 kg (66 pounds) Length to 100 cm (40 inches).. Weight to 30 kg (66 lbs)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: South America: Amazon and Orinoco basins as wild form; aquacultured form widely distributed in South America. Adults: open water of large rivers and seasonally flooded forests. Young stay in black waters of flood plains until maturity.

DIET IN THE WILD: Teeth in front are molars for chewing, NOT ripping. Good for eating fruits, greens and grain during seasonal flooding. Also feeds on zooplankton, insects, snails and decaying plants
ACADEMY DIET: Fruit, pears apples and bananas. (Allan Jan, biologist).

REPRODUCTION: They usually spawn once per year in whitewater rivers and inundated floodplain forests. They are substratum egg scatterers and do not guard their eggs. Life span: 20 years or more.

IUCN Red List and CITES Not Evaulated

REMARKS: C. macropomum has large nasal openings for excellent odor detection.
Can extend lower lip in low oxygen water to increase flow across gills.
Adults are important as seed dispersers for large-seeded plants during seasonal flooding.
Farmed as a food fish in South America. Popular in aquaculture because it can live in mineral poor waters and is very resistant to diseases.
Because the red-bellied pacu are closely related to piranha, sharing their coloration and shape when juveniles, Hollywood producers have been known to use the pacu as a stand-in for piranha. Actors are appreciative of the pacu’s preference for vegetable matter.



Docent Rainforest Course Materials, California Academy of Sciences. 2014

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