The fish is known as “The Nutcracker” and is more commonly found in the Amazon.
Ron Rossi and his son Frank were fishing at a lake in New Jersey when they made the strange catch. At first, the two men thought that they had caught a piranha, but were surprised to find that instead of a set of razor-sharp teeth, the fish had strangely human-like chompers, writes Christopher Brennan for The Daily Mail.
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From the Amazon to New Jersey
The Rossis researched the fish upon their return home, and were surprised to find that it was in fact a pacu. The omnivorous fish is native to Brazil, but had somehow found its way into Swedes Lake, New Jersey.
Pacu reportedly eat the testicles of swimmers and fishermen, and the Rossis can count themselves lucky that they hooked it before it got to them. Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection said that the fish may have been released into the lake by someone who previously kept it as a pet.
Pacu can grow up to four feet in length, and are often mistaken for piranhas by pet owners. Instead of sharp teeth, pacu have molar-like teeth which they use to crush food.
Pacu fish spreading around the world
As surprised as the Rossis may have been, it is not the first time that one of the fish has been caught in New Jersey. A 10-inch specimen was caught in September 2013, and others have been caught in Washington, Illinois and Michigan.
The growing popularity of the fish has led to specimens being caught in Paris, Scandinavia and Oceania. The pacu is thought to have contributed to the death of two men from blood loss in Papa New Guinea. The fish, which is known as the “Ball Cutter” to locals, is believed to have castrated them.
Despite the hype, Danish scientists have claimed that the pacu’s famed taste for human genitalia is “overblown.”
The introduction of the fish may endanger local fauna, according to local wildlife experts. However the DEP states that pacu cannot survive in colder water, and owners are requested to “humanely destroy” any unwanted pets instead of releasing them into the wild.