Pacu (Pla Pacu – ปลาเปคู)
Identification: Pacu is of the piranha family, but grows much larger, and they are actually omnivores (largely herbivorous). Fortunately their teeth are also quite different; piranha have viciously pointed, razor-sharp teeth, whereas Pacu have squarer, straighter teeth - more like a human.
The Pacu’s human like teeth are used to crush its food and can cause serious bites – so you still need to be careful; no fingers in a Pacu’s mouth unless you plan to leave them there… They are similar in shape to a bream (slab sided), but with a head similar to a piranha. The body colour is from olive green through grey, with attractive red or orange tinges on the lower fins. All in all a very pretty fish.
Additional Information: Pacu are not native to Thailand, their natural habitat is the rivers and streams of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of lowland Amazonia. They can grow to about 25Kg, but the largest you are likely to find in Thailand are at about 10Kg.
The natural diet of the Pacu is plants, fruits, insects, crustaceans, seeds, and very occasionally, small fish.
They will usually scream off with the bait and put up a good fight, making fast sudden changes of direction. On lightish tackle they are a lot of fun. They can bite through line, so a very strong braided leader is needed. Bread is often the bait of choice for Pacu.
You won’t find any fisheries in Thailand who are keen for you to eat the Pacu that you catch. This is a shame since Theodore Roosevelt wrote of catching and eating Pacu in his book Through the Brazilian Wilderness and described them as “good-sized, deep-bodied fish,” and noted, “They were delicious eating.”. I have never tried one myself, but that sure sounds good.
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