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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Pacu \Pa"cu\, n. (Zo["o]l.) A South American fresh-water fish ( Myletes pacu), of the family Characinid[ae]. It is highly esteemed as food.


n. Any of several South American freshwater fishes related to the piranha.

Pacu (disambiguation)

Pacu or pacú is the common name of several South American fishes.

  • Piaractus mesopotamicus (Paraná River pacu), a South American ray-finned fish that is endemic to the Paraguay-Paraná River basin
  • Piaractus brachypomus, knows as pirapitinga or red-bellied pacu
  • Tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum), known as black pacu, black-finned pacu, giant pacu

PACU, Pacu or pacú may also refer to:

  • Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Post anesthesia care unit, a recovery area found in many medical facilities

Pacu is a common name used in the aquarium trade to refer to several common species of omnivorous South American freshwater fish that are related to the piranha. Pacu and piranha do not have similar teeth, the main difference being jaw alignment; piranha have pointed, razor-sharp teeth in a pronounced underbite, whereas pacu have squarer, straighter teeth, which are uncannily similar to human teeth, and a less severe underbite, or a slight overbite. Additionally, full-grown pacu are much larger than piranha, reaching up to and in the wild.

Pacu is a term of Brazilian Indian/Guaraní origin. When the large fish of the Colossoma genus entered the aquarium trade in the U.S. and other countries, they were erroneously labeled pacu. In the Brazilian Amazon, the term pacu is generally reserved to smaller and medium-sized fish in the Metynnis, Mylossoma, Mylesinus and Myleus genera. The Colossoma macropomum fish are known as tambaqui, whereas Piaractus brachypomus is known as pirapitinga. In Perú, both of the species (Colossoma macropomum and Piaractus brachypomum) are called pacú and gamitana. In Rio Paraná/Paraguay there is Piaractus mesopothamicus, which is also called "pacú" in Paraguay. On River Monster, a show on Animal Planet, Jeremy Wade went to New Guinea to investigate rumors of a testicles eating fish. He found this fish had attacked a man's testicles but he was not castrated and recovered. This may be the source of the rumor but according to River Monsters this fish can attack people.

Usage examples of "pacu".

But unlike the skittish Pacu, these fish, Tilapia according to their note board, seemed calm and relaxed as they wove in and out among each other.

The timid fish, Pacu according to the note board next to the vat, made raking the sand for explosives easy.

She turned away and watched the Pacu huddling at the far reaches of their vat.