Red-bellied Pacu in the Philippines

Arsenia G Cagauan
Vol 10 No 1 (2007), pp. 42-47




Exotic species, particularly those introduced in the ornamental aquarium fish trade industry, some of which have origins in South America and Africa contribute to fish fauna diversity in the country. They have very well adapted to the Philippines as the climatic conditions are very much similar to their places of origin. One of the ornamental aquarium fishes that has adapted very well in the Philippines is the red-bellied pacu, a native of Brazil and a food fish in South America, introduced to the Philippines in the 1980s. The fish can now be reproduced and cultured in ponds for use as an ornamental fish.

Pacus are native of the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. It is an aquaculture species and important fish in capture fishery in South America but an expensive ornamental fish in the Philippines. In the Philippines, the red-bellied pacu spawn naturally in riverine condition and can also reproduce through artificial spawning using hormone. The production of redbellied pacu is still confined in aquaculture ponds.

Although basically a plant eater, it was found to exhibit molluscivorous eating habit when it controlled the abundance of the golden apple snail Pomacea canaliculata in simulated rice field in screenhouse condition. Large-sized pacu was found to damage 20-day old transplanted rice plants by cutting and uprooting them while small-sized pacu did not damage the rice plants. The damage that it caused the rice plants mimics that of rat damage. The molluscivorous feeding may be a potential invasive impact when loose to the natural waters as it may impact on native mollusks such as the native snail Pila conica and freshwater clam Corbicula manilensis.


Keywords: Pomacea canaliculata, snail control, Colossoma macropomum, Piaractus brachypomus, red-bellied pacu, Philippine alien species

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