A boy was in for a surprise when he hooked a piranha-like fish in an Oklahoma pond — a long way from its home.
The pacu fish, recently caught by Charlie Clinton in a neighborhood pond, is native to South America and is considered an invasive species.
So what’s it doing in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officials said in a news release Tuesday, July 18, it’s not the first time a pacu has been caught in the state.
“Non-native pacu in Oklahoma waters are most likely the result of individuals buying them as pets, and releasing them when they outgrow their tank,” officials said. “These fish are generally harmless to humans, but the practice of dumping unwanted pets in waterways can be incredibly harmful to native wildlife.”
Charlie was all smiles as he presented what conservation officers called an “unusual bite.”
When he pried open the fish’s mouth, human-like teeth appeared. This is normal for pacu, which are said to “have a seriously strong bite,” according to Audubon Nature Institute.
Pacu are also referred to as “vegetarian piranhas” because they do not eat meat, McClatchy News reported in 2020. They can grow to more than 3 feet and up to 97 pounds.
Despite not being native to North America, at least 27 states have reported pacu captures in the wild, according to a 2016 Live Science article.
“As for Charlie, we’re told you can find him back at the pond on the grind for his next great catch. We wish you luck and tight lines, Charlie!” conservation officials said.