Red bellied pacu

Colossoma brachypomum

Family Characidae - pacus

Body deep, laterally compressed; color gray or silver; red on belly, pectoral and pelvic fins and chin; dorsal, anal and caudal fins are dark; dark blotch on opercle; short adipose fin with no rays; head short (goes 3X or more into SL); teeth are molar-shaped; pelvic fins set well behind pectoral fins in center of body; chest looks expanded; anal and dorsal fins with anterior rays much longer than posterior rays.
Similar Species
Most confused with the red bellied piranha. The lower jaw in a piranha is thick and juts out past the upper jaw. The lower jaw in the pacu is thinner and is about equal with the upper jaw, which is very oblique and concave; Piranha have 1 row of triangular teeth, pacus have 2 rows of molar-like teeth. C. macropomum, also called the red bellied pacu, has a longer head 3X or less into SL) and several rays at the end of the adipose fin.
Freshwater, rivers, have been found in quiet tidal bayous
Maximum Size
108 cm (3 1/2 ft), common to 70 cm (27 1/2 in)
Fin Element Counts
unknown (explain)
Other Common Names
black pacu, the giant pacu, tambaqui.
Previous Scientific Names
This is an exotic (non-native) species, usually discarded from local aquariums (which is illegal). If one becomes established in local waters, some environmental harm may occur.
State size/bag limits