New Jersey is known for a lot of things, but a terrifying hell-beast isn’t usually one of them (Unless you count Jersey Shore vacationers. Or the so-called “Jersey Devil.”). But, that’s exactly what Ron Rossi from Delran, Burlington County caught in Swedes Lake Sunday on an otherwise innocent fishing trip with his family.
The disturbing fish with human-like teeth is called a Pacu, and it was a long way from home – in the wild, they’re found in South America. Rossi only discovered the fish’s identity after doing some research. At first, he thought it may be a piranha.
The two are related, though the Pacu fish is more opportunistic when it comes to its diet. Those teeth are effective in cracking nuts it finds floating on the surface, which give it the unfortunate reputation of being fond of certain parts of the male anatomy. The Pacu may be a monster, but it’s not that kind of monster.
As for how a South American Pacu fish ended up in a freshwater New Jersey man-made lake, wildlife experts suspect people eager to own exotic pets who later find them too unwieldy.
“Many times, these fish are deposited into lakes by pet owners. These fish do not survive in colder water, so we encourage people not to release it into the wild but to humanely destroy the fish,” a spokesperson from the DEP told Philadelphia’s Action News.
The larger concern is how many more of these fish may remain in Swedes Lake. While there are accounts of Pacu fish attacking humans (many of which enjoy swimming in the lake), the real concern is the possibility that the Pacu fish will become an invasive species, competing with indigenous fishes for resources. Invasive species can also introduce foreign diseases that native species are powerless to resist.
But mostly, though, those darn teeth are what make this situation so unappetizing.