Red Bellied Pacu (Piaractus Brachypomus)
The Red Bellied Pacu, also known as the Pirapitinga, is a large freshwater fish native to the Rio Orinoco and Amazon basins in South America. The Red Bellied Pacu is characterized by its red belly and dark back, with coloration varying based on the specific geographic origin of the species. This "gentle giant" is suitable exclusively for expansive private aquariums, indoor ponds, or public exhibits. Despite often being mistaken for piranhas, the Red Bellied Pacu's dental structure is distinct due to its unique dietary needs. Its teeth, bearing a striking resemblance to human teeth, are adapted to crack open hard-shelled nuts.
They are among the largest-scaled fish in the Amazon basin, reaching lengths of over 3 feet and weighing over 55 pounds. Captive Pacus tend to be a bit smaller but expect them to reach at least 24 inches. Due to its size, Pacus require a spacious tank of at least 600 to 1000 gallons, preferably larger. Due to their large size and appetite, many Red Bellied Pacus have been irresponsibly released into rivers and lakes or left at public aquariums.
Red Bellied Pacus are peaceful fish that can coexist with other large and peaceful species. However, they can intimidate smaller fish due to their size and active behavior. Suitable tankmates include Arowana, other large characins, big cichlids, and large catfish from the Pimelodid, Doradid, and Loricariid groups.
These fish are primarily herbivores, feeding on fruits, nuts, and seeds in the wild. In the aquarium, they appreciate a varied diet of floating pellets or sticks, Koi pellets, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Spinach, lettuce, fruit, and vegetables such as apple, banana, peach, grapes, zucchini, peas, cabbage, and carrot.
Red Bellied Pacus are active swimmers and do not require specific decor in their tank. However, if you wish to add decor, opt for large water-worn boulders and large chunks of driftwood. Ensure any decor is either too heavy to be moved or securely attached.
Red Bellied Pacus thrive in well-oxygenated water with a degree of flow. They are intolerant to the accumulation of organic wastes and require pristine water conditions. Regular water changes of 30-50% of the tank volume should be considered routine.
Red Bellied Pacus require a spacious aquarium of at least 600 to 1000 gallons. Their ideal water parameters are a pH of 6.5-7.5, hardness of 0-1 dGH, and a temperature of 72-82°F (22-28°C).
Red Bellied Pacus are not suitable for every aquarist due to their size and specific care requirements. However, for those who can provide the necessary care and environment, owning a Red Bellied Pacu can be a rewarding experience.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.