This probably would come as a shock for any angler: reeling in a red-bellied pacu, complete with human-like teeth.
These fish aren't native to Michigan but hail from South America, and they've been caught three times in July, probably because of pet owners who no longer can care for them, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources. Three pacu were reported -- two from Lake St. Clair and one from the Port Huron area, both on the eastern side of Michigan.
The red-bellied pacu, or scientifically known as Piaractus brachypomus, is most common in the continent's Amazon basin but are imported to the U.S. and internationally.
Officials don't consider the fish to be invasive despite it being a non-native fish to Michigan. The DNR says a 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessment concluded the risk posed by pacus in the U.S. is uncertain because of a lack of research on the fish's negative impacts.
Let's be clear: those square teeth are scary-looking, but they're used to break down nuts and seeds.
If an aquarium owner's pacu has outgrown its tank, there are options to properly take care of it rather than dumping it in the nearest waterway.
“If your pacu has outgrown its tank or begun to feed on your other fish, rather than releasing it into a pond or stream, consider donating or trading it with another hobbyist, an environmental learning center, an aquarium or a zoo,” said Paige Filice of Michigan State University. “You can also check with the pet store where you purchased the fish to see if they will take it back.
Filice is part of a statewide campaign to Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes, or RIPPLE.
The DNR says an unusual fish is caught, keep it and preserve it on ice or take photos -- don't place it back in the water. Then, contact Seth Herbst, a DNR aquatic invasive species biologist, at 517-284-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org for help in identification.