Piranha Reported In Catawba River Is Actually A Pacu

Wildlife officials say the fish thought to be a piranha that a fisherman reeled in from the Catawba River last month was actually a popular toothy aquarium fish that's related.

Officials say the carnivorous piranhas are similar in appearance to the pacu, a freshwater fish that mostly has an appetite for fruit and vegetables. They say the fish Jerry Melton of Gastonia caught that flashed its teeth and bit his knife was a pacu.

Fisheries biologist Jacob Rash says the biggest difference is the teeth. Rash says pacu have molar-like teeth while piranhas have only one row of sharp teeth.

Wildlife officials again yesterday asked people not to let aquarium fish into the state's waters, warning it can lead to ``irreparable ecological consequences.''