People are dumping this non-native relative of the piranha into U.S. waterways, and it’s putting red, white and blue balls at risk
Holley Luft was fishing with her husband at Michigan’s Lake St. Claire last week when she reeled in an unusual-looking fish. At first she thought it was a bluegill, a panfish common to North America, but then she opened its mouth and saw big, human-like teeth. Luft had caught herself a pacu, aka “the ball cutter.”
Native to South America, the omnivorous freshwater fish is usually found in the Amazon and the rivers of Papua New Guinea. However, the pacu find in Michigan is just the most recent sighting in U.S. waterways, where aquarium owners allegedly dump the fish after finding them too big or too aggressive. In addition to Luft’s 14-inch specimen, pacus have been found in Illinois and New Jersey in recent years.