Fish With Human-Like Teeth Found In Arizona Lake

The fish is a relative to the piranha species and is not native to the area

A photo of a purple pacu fish
Artex67 / Shutterstock

The fish is a relative to the piranha species and is not native to the area

An Arizona fisherman got a big surprise when he found a fish with human-like teeth on his hook. At first, he thought it was a piranha, but later inspection by the fisheries manager at The Arizona Game and Fish Department revealed that it was a pacu fish, The Arizona Daily Star reported.

According to Pet Guide, the pacu is a freshwater fish that’s a relative of the piranha’s. The main difference between the two fish is that the piranha has razor-sharp triangular teeth while the pacu has square teeth that look like they belong in a human mouth. They’re often raised as pets in North America, but they’re originally from South America, just like piranhas.

The pacu fish was found in the Tuscon Silverbell Lake, but the officials who manage the site did not introduce the species into the water. They’ve concluded that private individuals may have dumped the fish. One of the officials speculated that pacu fish owners may have dumped the fish because they “just don’t want them anymore.” But the introduction of the fish causes environmental issues because the species isn’t native to the region.

“What they don’t realize is that invasive species crowd out native species,” said Mark Hart, a media representative for the department, as reported by Newsweek. “It’s a bad practice, and people don’t want to destroy something that’s been a pet. But it’s not helpful and can lead to some confusion.”

But this isn’t the first time that the pacu has popped up in American bodies of water. In 2015, one of these fish was found in New Jersey. According to National Geographic, the fish was discovered in Swedes Lake in southern Jersey. In this case, the Department Of Environmental Protection complained about the same problem of people dumping their pet pacus into the lake. Officials advised that pet owners should “humanely” destroy the fish if they don’t want them anymore. Dumping the fish isn’t a better option because the fish don’t survive when the water gets cold in the winter.

Although the Arizona fisherman said that the pacu tried to bite him, pacus are herbivores and aren’t considered a threat to humans, according to National Geographic. Their human-like teeth are strong, so their bite would be painful, but they hardly ever bite people. But they do sometimes eat other fish, decimate the other species and potentially spread disease and/or parasites.