I think large bodies of water are absolutely beautiful. The once huge piece of land, now covered completely by water, that sometimes offers a nice cool breeze or if you’re lucky, it provides you with lots of fresh fish that you can eat or catch & release. When you go down to the Amazon in South America, it’s no secret that there are a lot of different species of fish. Some of them are beautiful while others are rather ugly. Then there are some that are naturally the prey and there are some that are predators that you must watch out for. And while the predators are scary, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a type of fish that freaks me out more than the Pacu and Sheepshead fish. It’s not because of their size, it’s because of their teeth! Just wait until you see what I am talking about, then you will understand.
This is the Pacu fish, which is a freshwater fish that is very common in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of lowland Amazonia. These fish have even been found as far away as Papua New Guinea.
If you couldn’t tell, the Pacu fish is also related to the terrifying piranha family. They are both members of the Serrasalminae family, but they have very different eating habits.
Piranhas have very sharp, almost razor-like, teeth and are carnivorous. The Pacu fish prefers to eat vegetables, and is more of an omnivore.
The teeth of the Pacu are a lot more square than their piranha relatives. But isn’t it a little creepy how much the Pacu’s teeth look like that of a human? I can’t get that image out of my mind.
Because of the shape of their teeth, Pacus typically use their teeth to smash nuts and fruit. They do eat fish and other invertebrates, but that’s not their main source of food. They typically live off the fruit and nuts that fall from the trees surrounding the rivers.
Pacu fish is also a meal that is served in some restaurants. It’s fried which allows you to eat most of this fish, although I’d probably be steering clear of the head in general.
When the Pacu’s mouth is closed, you can barely tell it’s any different from any other fish. But once it opens wide, it’s a thing only nightmares are made of.
The Pacu is not the only fish with human like teeth though. The Sheepshead fish also has teeth that resemble human teeth. The difference between the Pacu and the Sheepshead though is that the Sheepshead fish has A LOT more human looking teeth.
When the Sheepshead fish becomes a full-grown adult, they will have incisors that sit at the front of their jaw, along with molars that take up three rows on the top and two rows on the bottom.
Sheepshead fish are sometimes called convict fish. If you couldn’t guess why, it’s because of their black and white stripes making them look like they are wearing old prison uniforms.
Since the Pacu fish can be fried and eaten, would you dare to order this at a restaurant in South America? I’m pretty daring when it comes to the food I eat, but I don’t think I’d be willing to give this a try. The only way I would probably try this would be if the head was removed first. The teeth from both the Pacu and Sheepshead Fish look like those fake dentures that chatter together when they are wound up. It’s almost like they’re playing a trick on you by making you believe these fish are real. But these fish are definitely real, and if you ever have an opportunity to go fishing in the Amazon, you may want to take advantage so you can witness these bizarre fish for yourself.