Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Was it a Pacu or A Piranha?

I was browsing The Star Online this morning when I chanced upon this article. Below is a copy of the article.

Fish attacks fisherman in Jerantut

A FISHERMAN in Sungai Tembeling, Jerantut, was bitten in the leg by a fish suspected to belong to the piranha species, Utusan Malaysia reported.

Adanan Nipah, 54, was about to release the 25cm-long fish which was trapped in his net at 10pm on Monday when it repeatedly bit his right leg.

“I caught the fish and put it in a polystyrene container. Then I noticed that my leg had started to swell.

“I've never heard of any fisherman being attacked by fish in Sungai Tembeling,” he said.

~Source : The Star Online


This news actually appeared yesterday in the local Malay newspaper and it created some buzz at the Local Fishing Forum. Click on this link to view the entire thread.

This news got me wondering. Was it a Pacu or was it a Piranha. Pacu is quite famous here in Malaysia and a lot payponds stock them as they provide great fight on light tackle. I did a search on Wikipedia and this is what I managed to find out.

Pacu is a common name used to refer to several species of South American freshwater fish that are closely related to the piranha. They are mainly herbivores, but will also eat small fish, insects, and meat on fishing lures. Their teeth, which may resemble human teeth, are used to cut through vegetation and crush seeds that fall into the water. Pacu and piranha are distinguished from each other by their teeth and jaw alignments; piranha have pointed, razor-sharp teeth in a pronounced underbite, whereas pacu have square, straight teeth in a less severe underbite, or a slight overbite. Additionally, full-grown pacu are much larger than piranha.

A piranha or piraƱa is a member of a family of omnivorous freshwater fish which live in South American rivers. In Venezuelan rivers they are called caribes. They are known for their sharp teeth and an aggressive appetite for meat.

If indeed the fish that attacked the poor fisherman was a piranha, then what brought them to Malaysia? Illegal import? For years the Malaysian anglers have been having problems with the Peacock Bass which is a non native fish introduced some 10 years ago. Now, most of the lakes and some rivers are infested with them. Who is to be blamed? What should be done to overcome this problem?

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