Bizarre fish with scary-looking teeth throw scare into lake community
2012-07-02 0:00

By Pete Thomas | Outdoor

The discovery of an alien fish species in a small lake in Illinois has put locals and tourists on edge because the fish posses dangerous-looking teeth and bear a striking resemblance to ravenous piranha.

This saga began when a NewsChannel 5 viewer informed the station that piranhas were being caught by fishermen in Lake Lou Yaeger, which is located in the community of Litchfield.

(One fish was captured on June 7 and a second was reportedly hooked more recently.)

It seemed eerily like a landlocked version of "Jaws," but without the enormous shark and corny lines, such as, "I think we’re going to need a bigger boat."

Lake-goers and officials were understandably concerned because piranhas are flesh-tearing predators that, according to popular belief, can reduce large animals -- or people -- to skeletons in minutes.

Additionally, reports of their presence surfaced just when a scorching heat wave was driving scores of people to the lake shore, hoping to cool off.

Thankfully, however, calmer heads appear to be prevailing. The fish captured on June 7 was inspected and turned out to be a pacu. Pacus, like piranhas, are native to the Amazon River basin in South America.

However, pacus’ teeth are shaped more like human teeth than the pointy teeth of piranhas. Pacus, which can weigh up to 55 pounds, prey largely on nuts that fall from trees, snails and aquatic vegetation. Until recently, they’ve been considered harmless to humans, but fear is growing after recent reports.

Presumably, the fish that was captured in Lake Lou Yaeger had been someone’s aquarium pet before being illegally dumped into the lake. In 2011 pacu were found in South Carolina.

According to the accompanying news report, not everybody is satisfied that Lake Lou Yaeger is safe.


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