Red-bellied Pacu This relative to the piranha is often mistaken for them when caught by fishers. A native to the Orinoco and Amazon River basins of South America, Red Bellied Pacu have been reported in 19 states, most likely due to aquarium releases, but some southern states may have experienced escapes from aquaculture operations. Typically a solitary fish, adults stay prefer flooded areas where they feed on vegetative matter, with a preference to fruits and grains. Pacu are omnivores and will fee on a variety of foods.
Red bellied Pacu are a narrow, plate-shaped silver body. They typically are purplish on the back with a yellow to cream colored underside, a reddish breast and blunt teeth. Pacu prefer temperatures over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and low temperature, below 50 can be fatal. This is a fast growing fish and can reach sizes over 40 inches and 50 pounds.