Illinois hunting and fishing

PHOTO BY RICHARD A. CHAPMAN/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Lorenzo Pious holds what he thought was a piranha from the Washington Park lagoon.

Pacu caught in Chicago

June 08, 2009 at 08:43 AM

A Chicago aquarium owner has apparently created yet another case of mistaken identity.

While fishing at Washington Park lagoon last Thursday, Lorenzo Pious caught what he first thought was a piranha. The 16-inch, 2.5-pound fish was actually a pacu according to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mistaking the two species is a common error. Pacu are fruit and nut eaters while piranha have a legendary taste for meat. Both species are frequently released by aquarium owners once the fish outgrow their tank or become less enjoyable to watch. Most fish are killed by cold northern winters, though some tropical fish are able to survive in cooling lakes that are artificially warmed by water discharged from power plants.

Writes Bowman:

Frank Jakubicek, district fisheries biologist for Cook and Lake counties, said pacus are occasionally reported. Piranha sightings are rarer, though in 2005, they were found in Bangs Lake in the northwest suburbs.

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