Information about Pacu from Pacu Owners

These comments are from pacu owners:

Most frequently asked Question: My pacu has (have) outgrown my tank and I am out of space. What should I do with it (them)? Suggestions?

Example 1: Hi im Eric an 11 yr old who owns a red-bellied pacu. My parents will not get me a tank any larger than 20 gallons!I really love this fish and do not know what to do with it once it gets too big. I do not want to sell it to a pet store because i love him! I named him Mimic cuz he looks like a pirahna! AINT THAT A GREAT NAME! Im currently feeding it wardley tropical flakes and he seems to enjoy them. When it gets bigger im going to feed it greens and neon fish! He is only in a 1 gallon tank noww with a filter but i am in a couple days gonna get a bigger tank and a heater. but i know he'll out grow it! WHAT SHOULD I DO? :(


Answer: I have answered hundreds of emails and this is actually the most common question I get. The answers I have found are: look for a friend who wants them and is an avid fish keeper, see if a pet store will take them back, talk to an animal shelter or society to see if they can take them. Some people have to put them down after a year because of space and maintenance issues. Some will taxidermy them. Some actually eat them as though they were raise for the purpose (they are considered a staple food in parts of Brazil because of size and culture of the people.

Those are the options that I am aware of. It will depend on the attachment you have to the fish and the amount of time you can spend to relocate them. If you ever find a place that is a sanctuary, please let me know because I have many people asking where they can find a new home for their fish.

I just lost my pacu his name was pac man he was my buddy as I would clean the tank he would rub up against my hand or let me pet him. When we were gone for a few hours he jumped and some how jumped out of the tank. I had the tank covered with the normal glass and lighting but he pushed it aside he was 20" long his buddy bubba who is 12" seems to be very depressed I have put stress coat in but he is just looking so sad. I am looking for another couple of pacu I have a 100 gallon tank and if need be I can get a larger tank looking for red belly or black if you know of any one trying to find a good home please let me know I live in Michigan thank you Hanna --- Richard ---

Note from the editor of this site regarding this email response: This is by far the most amazing Pacu setting I have heard of. Some day...

Hi - I really enjoyed reading about all the other people who enjoy the Pacu. We have a Half Black that we bought in 1979 - that makes him 25 years old! He started out in a 10 gallon tank with numerous tank-mates, but soon graduated to a 55 gallon, then to a 412 gallon, which he was in for the last 17 years or so. This spring my husband built a new home in our family room for our Pacu - a 3240 gallon tank! It's 12' long x 6' high x 6' wide. We use 3 swimming pool sand filters and a 3hp pump to run everything. The tank is framed and sheeted with plywood, and sealed with fibreglass matting, resin, and gelcoat. It has two 5'x3' x 3/4" window panes in the front. Our Pacu loves his space! He's about 36"long, about 12" from belly to dorsal, and weighs about 30 - 35 pounds. He eats beef heart, shrimp, Hikari pellets, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, figs, carrots, and his favorite - Milk Bones! He has a surprisingly good nature for his size - he shares his tank with a 3' Tiger Shovelnose Cat, a 3' Black Arrowana, 4 full grown Tinfoil Barbs, an 8" Tilapia, an 18" Iridescent Shark, four 12" Plecostamus, 3 Synodontis Cats, and what started out as about 20 African Cichlids, but has turned into 50+ as they have been breeding like mad. Our Pacu recognizes us and will swim to whatever side of the tank we are on. My husband has to physically get inside the tank with a mask/snorkel to clean the inside of the glass, and when he's in there, the Pacu is always right beside him, will even let Miles pet him. He is truly our baby! We have heard that the lifespan is around 60 years, so we are almost halfway there. Our tank is quite a conversation piece and we always have people coming over to see it - we believe it is the largest home aquarium in the province

I have had nearly the same problem as you. I had a glass thermometer which my two red bellies broke chasing each other around the tank. When I purchased a new tank I bought two new titanium heaters, here is the URL: FYF-HC-H8.htm?sid=1cdAk00@hCSAAoq-04104580931.83by no means am I saying this is the only place to get these great heaters from but gives people an idea what is available. I've had mine for a year and no problems at all

i just wanted to let you know that i own 4 pacus all red belly one is 14" 13" and two 6" i noticed they do love to play chase but but what i really wanted to talk about is that they will bite tank mates i almost lost a pacu because the other one beat her up so bad that she had no scales on either side and she was bleeding and they were raised together i had to nurse her back to health and separate them i just thought you should know but i do love your site and please reply

I have never been asked the gender of a Pacu. The most often asked question is "will you take my pacus?" A Chinese gentleman came in this Monday and made me take four of them. He could not speak much English, but I couldn't speak ANY Mandarin. So now I have 11 of the monsters. (And still have no clue how to sex them.) Sorry for the mistype on the site. If you can speak Portuguese, you may get info out of Brasil. They have lots of Pacu sites. Try the standard tetra sexing. Males larger and more colorful. Females chubbier. Look at them from the top.

Hi, I really like you website, but do you know they live much longer then 10 years? My friend has one that is over 17 years old. Thank you, Valerie.

I really appreciate all the work you did to provide information for those of us who would like to know more about our fish! FYI, oscars often attack heater lights. It is possible that your friend's fish and yours were attacking the light that comes on when the heater is on and that is how the heaters broke. An easy fix is to position your heater so the light faces away from inside of the tank. Jon

Hi, Just thought I would write in to tell you that your's is the best website so far that I have found on this fish. Most don't even list them under "oddball varieties" I started working in a feed and pet supply store in Feb. and we have a fish dept. One day this very nice guy comes in with a problem, it seems his fish have out grown his tank and he needs to get rid of them. Being a big softie I told him I would be glad to take them in. (At this time I had a 20 gal tank just sitting on the deck that my husband bought me) After I asked what kind of fish, he told me they were a albino tiger oscar and a pacu. My mother had one of these fish when I was very young, so I figured no problem.(ha ha) Now we have "Fillet" she is beautiful, her tankmate went to a home with other tiger oscars. She seemed lonely at first so I brought home a small feeder, he would either be a buddy or dinner. Well 4 months later the feeder whose name is "Buddy" loves her (her dorsal is mostly rounded and I read that males have a sharper point to their dorsal fins) he goes to which ever part of the tank she is at and even rubs against her at times. My husband has given in and let me purchase a 135 gal tank for her and I now have another person who wants to give me a long finned albino tiger oscar who is half her size. My girl is about 14 inches long and very active, she likes bannanas and she plays with whole unshelled hazel nuts, I only give these to her rarely as I don't know what it does to the water. I have heard of Pacus cracking the shells of Brazil nuts and eating the nut.

I first would like to introduce myself. My name is Colleen. I really must say, that of all the Pacu websites, your's is the most accurate. Kudos to you! I currently have one red belly pacu, named Pacman. He is literally my pride and joy. I have several other fish, including two oscars and two red devils to name a few. By far, Pacman is my baby. I am currently moving him into a 90 gallon tank. My husband and I are custom building a table for his tank (he is well versed in construction). I am also looking at adopting two teenagers to go with Pacman, but I am still undecided. My lfs know I am well versed in Pacu's and received them from one of their other customers. They were well taken care of, in relatively good condition. I am only having the dilema, whether I am willing/able to provide the room all three of them require. I am well prepared for Pacman, but was not planning on adding to my joy. Anyhow, I am also glad to see that you feed yours a well rounded diet. Pacman gets a well rounded diet. His staple food is New Life Spectrum Jumbo formula, supplemented with cooked chicken, beef, beef heart, spinach, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and an assortment of nuts from the local health food store. Much of the Pacus that I see either in the local newspaper or pet stores are malnurished. I would love to do a Pacu Haven so to speak, but I just don't have the money and space. I am truly troubled to know that so many of our beloveds end up like that. I do my best to educate the pet stores of the Pacus. They mostly argue with me, especially when they try selling a red belly as a black pacu. OOOO that gets me mad. It is ironic that you prefer the Emporer Systems to canister filters. I preferr the canister for two reasons. The supreme biological filtration, low maintenance, easy cleaning. In addition, you can change the media to your liking. I have used both. The Emporer, while it does clean well, needs weekly maintenance (even with the weekly water changes I do) which I feel suppresses the biological colonies which are required to cycle the tank. In addition, Pacman continues to disconnect the downtube (hehe), which he has not disconnected the downtube on the Fluval yet. Accompanied with this system, I use an ugf, with 30% water changes per week. I do have to say that I agree with you about the plants. I have four Amazon Swords in the tank with him, and he LOVES to hide in them. He doesn't eat them, but they do get battered quite a bit from him freaking out. I think if I can find plastic ones that are tall enough and "look" realistic, I may go with them. Now that I have chewed your ear off, I will depart. I would love to stay in contact with you to swap stories, or just to get a second opinion on stuff. Thanks again.

Really a great site. I have seven pacu's only 8 cm. but my tank is not too big. maybe small. 70 liters. is there a serious problem keeping them alive?

Hello. We have had our Pacu since he or she was very small.Since he or she has grown it has killed our Osker which was bought at the same time.and any fish in the tank besides the Algea Eater.We now just have him LOL We love him but I had a question.First is there a way to tell male from female and also I feed him little fish.He will not eat them in from of me though or like during the day.AT night well the next morning you can see he has been busy.DO they just like to hunt in the dark, Or is just something some do and some don't.

hi again,

i was just at my local pet store, the same one i bought my pacu from, to get a new heater, mine broke, and i learned some surprising news. when i bought him the lady that sold it to me was a pathological lier and she told people anything to sell the item she was selling. she was fired because of this but she lied to me about the pacu......its a red bellied piranha. i was shocked so i went home and looked at pictures of pacu on the web and i realized pacu don't have spots piranha do and my fish has spots and the distinguishing black triangle on the gills. anyway do you have any sites where i could learn about piranhas? please help its starting to get big and require more food........including the other fish in my tank.

Hi, Thanks for responding. Guess what? Between the email I sent you and your reply our 300 gallon glass aquarium developed a huge crack in the front panel. Our son woke my husband and I up about 5 am saying the aquarium had cracked and was leaking. My first thought was to get the fish out of there before it broke and killed him. Fortunately we had kept his 100 gallon aquarium and had to move it back and I called the local fish guy who came over and moved Pac back into the 100 gallon aquarium. Naturally he (she) is not very happy about this. The store where my husband purchased the 300 gallon called the manufacturer who said of 50 tanks he's made that size ours was the 3rd to crack! What a bummer. So now we have ordered an acrylic but it has to be custom made because of the width. Meanwhile it's hard to explain to Pac why he's back in the smaller one. Poor guy.

I have a few questions for you. First i just bought a Pacu and it was about an inch within a month it grew to nearly 5". Is that normal? Its on a diet of flake food and any insects that crawl in to the tank or that i put in it and some times blood worm from the bala sharks i have in the tank. Second question. How big and how fast will my Pacu grow. Third question, you said they were train able does that mean the can be trained to do tricks? My final question is what size tank will i need in the end. I have two bala sharks that can get up to 13" each and 4 zebrafish which i think might be eaten before i get a new tank. Right now i have them in a 20 gal. tank what do you suggest? Matt C


I was just at your website about pacus. I was reading your taxidermy paragraph. That is true, they are not in high demand, but actually they can be replicated through fiberglass molds.

I am a taxidermist, and a college student, who right at the moment is working on a 24" pacu mount. I am making it for a local pet store. If you would like me to send a picture for your website, when the mount is completed, just let me know. My web link is if you would like to check out my work or link up sites.

thanks for your time,


Great website man, its good to see some interesting informative material on the net. I just graduated college and my obsession with tropical fish grows by the day. What began as a bowl holding a beta soon turned into the 100 gallon that i am now looking to upgrade even further. I have 2 pacus, two tiger oscars, green terror, 2 parrots, and some other ciclids. My pacus are about the same size as yours and they act exactly like you descibe them.

We have a Pacu that we've had for about twelve years. This month we purchased a 300 gallon aquarium for him (her). We had him in a 100 gal. Of course, he broke heaters (fortunately never electrocuted I was surprised about your story) knocked the top glass panels off the aquarium, with them landing either in his aquarium or broken on the floor--what a character. Good thing we have hardwood floors. We are very attached to him and talk to him every time we walk past his aquarium-- he loves attention. The question I have is are there any toys, like balls or rings we could use to train him or that he could play with? I'm worried that he gets bored. Every so often we buy him plants from the fish store which we know he'll tear up but we figure it gives him some- thing to do. He started out with Oscars but did away with them rather quickly. So we've given up getting him a companion. He is trained to get his grapes stuffed with pellets by swimming from one end to the other. My son is worried that I give him too many grapes and he will just get bigger. He gets a total of 8 grapes a night and every other night I stuff them with Cichlid pellets. I didn't know you could get sinking pellets. He also likes strawberries. No veggies thank you.

I was just in a pet store today and saw a really large Pacu. The store has been in business since 1969 and claims that this Pacu has been alive since 1974. If this is the case, then they have a potential lifespan of 30 years, give or take a few. And who knows how much longer he'll be around?

Just thought I'd mention that since your website said they had a 10-yr lifespan. Thanks for all of the other interesting information

The one thing that I wanted to share with you, they now make a titanium heater for fish tanks. I absolutely love them. The temperature gauge is on the outside of the tank with a dial. My Pacu broke the glass heater I had so I had to get something fast and I am very pleased with this new heater! I don't remember the brand off the top of my head but the 2 heaters are in the wet/dry filter, so there is now clutter in the tank! Well thank you for the wonderful webpage.

I recently bought two pacu's from my local pet shop after the guy in the shop told me '' Oh yeah, these are a great wee fish' you could easily keep four of them in tour two foot tank. No sweat at all ''. So after what I thought to have been a genuine salesman I took his advice and bought them, I only bought two of them though, thank God! As you can probably tell ive found out how big these fish can actually grow but I don't want to get rid of them cos ive become quite attached to them.

Hi, Had an unusual afternoon of fishing at Takanssee Lake. I was only there for about hour (2:30pm to 3:30) and as always my main goal was largemouth bass. I was using a white skirted spinner bait with silver willow blades, I caught 1 pickerel about 12" and hooked a nice LMB that shook the hook about three feet from shore, looked to about 2 to 3 lbs. But here's the kicker, just after I lost the LMB I saw something break water just to my right. I sent my spinner bait out in the vicinity and BAMM!!! The pole bent and drag whirled and the fight was on. Holey Moley it was fun. I got the fish to shore just as a father and son duo stopped by to see what kind of fish it was. I had no idea and neither did they. It was big! So I put it in a box and brought it over to Steven's Bait & Tackle in L.B. Brian said it was a sunny, this fish was 17 or so inches and weig! hed 4.2lbs. I'm having a hard time with that conclusion and would appreciate any input into what kind of fish this is! Is it Red Belly Pacu? A picture was taken at the tackle store and is now on my website. It can be viewed at sunny.jpgThe best part is after all of that, I got the fish back to the lake and it swam off just fine.

I can't seem to access the forum board so here is my question. I have a single pacu in a 90 gallon tank. He is about 21 inches and I have noticed the outer edges of his gill are puffy and floppy. Do you know what this is? What causes it? How to get rid of it? Is it because the tank is too small??? Any information on this would help. Here is a picture of him. You can sort of see the clear puffiness on the outside of his gill. It has gotten worse since the picture.

<<My Reply>>

Your fish is awesome! Your tank seems well-kept. Congrats on raising such a cool fish.

I have noticed the same occurance with the gills of my pacu. I searched around a bit have not seen any documentation on this but I have noticed that as my pacu breathe and they take in water that the flimsier part of the gill becomes like a suction cup so that the fish can take in water. They then exhale and the gill opens up to allow the passage of water. With this in mind I have assumed the occurance to be a natural thing.

I don't think the tank size causes what you are seeing. Something you may consider are the chemicals you add to your water. I have heard that some chemicals are not as friendly to fish as others. Another observation to make: can you tell if the abnormal growth is coming from inside the gill or is it part of the outer gill? I'd recommend going to a pet store and hearing what they have to say (PetSmart has really treated me well for aquarious qurestions).

If you are questioning the tank size you can use this as a formula (as received in a coversation in a local petstore) Tank size (in gallons) less the amount of substrate and other tank contents (measure in gallons if you can) so that you know the amount of water. You shouldn't have more than 1 inch of fish per net gallon of water.

Thank you for your site- just wonderful. I have a black pacu in Sydney, Australia. I believe it is a female - the most wonderful fish ever. BUT she is 1 metre long (3 foot) and about two foot high. She lives in a large 3 metre x 1 metre x 900 wide tank with other large fish. Her body is like a large ball. This species of fish is so misunderstood. I wouldn't dare introduce another pacu to the tank in case of problems.



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