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Piaractus brachypomus
Black Pacu, Pirapitinga

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Black Pacu (Pirapitinga) - Piaractus brachypomus

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pacu1.jpg (22kb)
Photo Credit: Steve & Sharon

Name: Piaractus brachypomus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Amazon Basin
90 cm 1000 L 6.8 26°C


The Black Pacu is a beautiful and generally peaceful game fish that grows huge (can weigh up to 25 kg) and should only be kept in equally huge aquaria - 1000 L or more for a single specimen. Furthermore, a Pacu is essentially a way overgrown Tetra...just like its little cousins, it only feels really happy and secure when surrounded by a good number of its own kind. Thus, the ideal tank should be much larger than that. When young, it mimics the Red Belly Piranha for protection, but after it grows thereīs no need for protection anymore and it becomes black. Its diet is based on fruits, vegetation and insects that fall into the water. Although peaceful, you need to be careful because it has powerful teeth that can really hurt an arm with a bite. I knew a full grown Black Pacu, that lived for many years in a local fish shop. When he finally died the owner was extremely upset, but couldnīt resist and ate it :-)

Contributed by Marcos Avila

Pacus are almost exclusively herbivorous. If you have a Pacu that's eating its tankmates - or goldfish, or (good lord!) baby rabbits - then congratulations! You've accidentally purchased a mis-labeled Piranha. If your fish has a "bulldog-style" underbite to its lower jaw, then it's a Piranha. If its lower jaw is in line with the upper jaw, then it's a Pacu. The best part is that NEITHER of these fish are suitable for the casual aquarist. Depending on the species, Pacus will grow to between 45 cm and over 1 METER at maturity.

Contributed by (no name given)

Our Black Pacu was the very first fish my husband and I bought, and this year he will be 25 years old! When we bought him he was about 3 cm, now he is about 90 cm long, 28 cm from belly to dorsal, about 15 cm thick, and weighs about 16 kg. The Pacu (that's his name - like 'The Donald') started off in a 60 liter tank, but soon outgrew it of course. He progressed upward in different tanks and spent the last 15 years in a 1500 liter tank. Last June my husband completed The Pacu's new home - a 12000 liter tank in our family room. We have heard this is the largest home aquarium in our province - it's 4 meters long x 2 meters high x 2 meters wide and The Pacu loves it! He is surprisingly good natured for his size - he shares his home with a 90 cm Tiger Shovelnose Cat, a 60 cm Black Arowana, a 60 cm Irridescent Shark, a full grown Tilapia, 4 full grown Tin Foil Barbs, 4 Plecostomus, 3 Synodontis eupterus and about 200 Africans. He seldom (almost never) eats another fish - he used to when he was younger, but he has mellowed with age. (We also do not feed live food - hopefully it discourages them from eating tank mates). The Pacu's diet consists of beef heart, shrimp, meal worms, Hikari pellets, Cichlid sticks, green grapes, watermelon, strawberries, figs, dried apricots, and his very favorite - Milk Bones! My husband has to physically enter the tank to clean the inside of the glass and The Pacu will let himself be petted. He will always come to whatever side of the tank we are on so he can look at us. I have read that Pacus can live up to 60 years - we're almost halfway there!

Contributed by Debra Mark

My pacu is now 2 years old and 40 cm big. But it is very timid. Maybe because he was raised with africans. I love mine but he is always getting scared and destroying my tank.

Contributed by Rich Kirtley

Pacu's are heavy eaters and do not attack tank mates out of aggression, they attack them out of hunger. Keep them well fed and have a large enough tank for them, I recommend 1000+ Liters. They are a very nice/cute looking fish, but please don’t buy it if you have inadequate tank space for it.

Contributed by Thomas Coates

I have a large Black Pacu almost 1 meter long and 50 cm high. This fish is a gentle giant, I would never dream of feeding her rabbits or mice. In the wild these fish would eat mainly vegetation. I feed soft lettuce, tomatoes, banana, zucchini, grated carrot, peas, beans pettets and cooked prawns. I have had my Pacu 4 years, she has tripled her size, but is just so happy in her home (2700 litres). Pacus are totally misunderstood, people should be aware of that they grow into large fish, but as a community fish, they are just the best.

Contributed by Deidre Illes

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