Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Characiformes
Family: Characidae (Characins)
Subfamily: Serrasalmidae

Genus/species: Piaractus brachypomus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Body is deep and laterally compressed, with silvery sides (becoming darker approaching the dorsum) and red coloration on the belly, chin, pectoral fins, and occasionally the leading rays of the anal fin. As in other characin species, a small, unrayed adipose fin is present approximately midway between the dorsal and caudal fins.The remaining rayed fins are uniformly dark-colored. Weight to 25 kg
(55.07 lb). Length 25 to 88 cm (9.84 to 34.65 inches).

Pirapitinga aka Red-bellied Pacu6502615125_d1410c5c16_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical. South America: Amazon and Orinoco River basins in open water of large rivers and seasonally flooded forests.

DIET IN THE WILD: Insects and decaying fruits and vegetation that fall in water. (Do these fish celebrate the inevitable last flight of a bola butterfly?)

REPRODUCTION: External fertilization. Although parents abandon their eggs, pacu are brood- hiders, minimizing the chances of the clutch being discovered by predators.
Lifespan to 25+ years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list; Not evaluated CITES No special status

Pirapitinga aka Red-bellied Pacu8412647627_064badee18_k

REMARKS: Because pacu are closely related to piranha, sharing their coloration and shape, 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.

Pacu’s dentition allows them to crush fruit, nuts and seeds. Their teeth are cusped and resemble human molars, and they also have very powerful jaw. Can cause serious bites.

Like the tambaqui, an important aquacultured food fish in South America.

Amazon Flooded Tunnel


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