Pacu – National Aquarium of New Zealand

Hi, my name is Miriam. I’m an Aquarist/Diver
here at the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The Pacu are from South America, from the
Amazon River, and they’re actually cousins to the Piranha.
The typical reaction of people when they’re visiting the Aquarium and they see the Pacu,
is, “Wow! Look at those big fish!” The Pacu are more mild-mannered than their
meet-eating cousins the Piranha. Would you believe me if I actually told you they’re
vegetarians? The Pacu love to eat fruit and nuts that fall from the trees above the river,
and their favourite food here at the Aquarium is peaches.
The Pacu have very powerful jaws, so when they are chewing on their nuts they can crack
open the shell. Unlike the razor-sharp teeth of the Piranha,
the Pacu have square teeth — very similar to humans.
When the Pacu are younger, they actually grow up with the Piranhas, and when they get big
enough, that’s when they head off and form their own schools.
A distinct difference between the Pacu and the Piranha is their size. In the wild, the
Pacu can grow up to 30 kilograms. The Pacu are actually prize food for tribes in the
Amazon. Unfortunately, the Pacu are an endangered species, because they are losing their habitat
in some areas.

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