Professor Neil Conway
August 19, 2012
Monster Fish Keeping: Red-Bellied Pacu
A cousin to the reputable (although exaggerated) vicious piranha, the Red-Bellied Pacu is a beautiful, timid fish with a personality to match his potentially gargantuan size. They are playful, attentive, and have very powerful fins that they love to splash with as well as immense, dark eyes that beg for petting. However, although Red-Bellied Pacu are attractive and responsive fish, they are best left to the advanced freshwater aquarist with a very large tank due to their rapid growth to a very large size, their potentially dangerous teeth, as well as large amounts of time and money to maintain their habitat and provide an adequate diet. To protect these fish as well as our environment, and preserve our natural habitats we must explore several avenues of approach. Pacu are members of the Serrasalminae sub-family of Characins, a group of fish that are native to South America and Africa. Most people are more familiar with this group as the Tetras. Although Red-Bellied Pacu and other Tetra such as Piranha share some similarities in both appearance and behavior, they are very different in personality, habitat, dietary needs, and most importantly, size. Pacu are generally very small fish, about the size of a quarter, when purchased in local pet stores with the description stating that they generally reach a maximum growth of 10 inches, are easy to care for with regular water and average filtration, and need only staple flake fish food as their diet. This is false information and detrimental to the fish as well to the owner, who expects to have this cute little fish residing in a ten gallon aquarium for years of enjoyment. Once purchased though, they discover after only a few weeks that their cute little fish has grown from 1 inch to 5 inches, and soon after to 8 inches, the unsuspecting aquarist is in...