Black Pacu Fact File

Colossoma macropomum

Credit: Public Domain








Wild 15 years

Captive 15 years



Fruit, Nuts

Conservation Status


Not Evaluated

Mega Fish from the Amazon!

The black pacu is the second largest species of fish found in the Amazon. Adults can reach lengths of up to 1m (40in) long.

Despite their large size this species is a herbivore which will feed on nuts, fruits and grains. Occasionally they have been seen to feed on small fish. Juveniles eat zooplankton until they approach adult size.

Their teeth resemble those of humans to help them crush through the hard shells of nuts.

These animals have been introduced to a number of areas outside their native South America. Most invasive populations have established following releases from captive individuals which outgrew their tank.

Learn more about these fabulous fish by reading on below.


What does the Black Pacu look like?

Pacu have dark coloration on their underside and lighter colors on the underside. Most fish exhibit the opposite coloration as it helps with their camouflage.

Their body is disc-shaped and designed to move between aquatic plants. Their eyes are small.

An average individual will measure 1m (40in) long and weigh 30kg (66lbs). This is the second largest species of fish recorded from the Amazon basin.

As adults the female tends to have a rounder-belly.

This species is regularly confused with the piranha but their teeth differ due to their different diets.


How does the Black Pacu survive in its habitat?

The teeth of the pacu resemble those of humans. Their large molars are used to crush the nuts and fruit which they feed on. They have a powerful jaw which can inflict a painful bite.

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What does the Black Pacu eat?

Black pacu are primarily herbivores. Most of their diet is made up of fruits and nuts. On occasion they may eat smaller fish and insects.

Juveniles tend to feed more on zooplankton developing the herbivorous diet as they grow.

Learn more about the Black Pacu in this video from Henry the PaleoGuy on YouTube


Where do you find the Black Pacu?

South America is the native home of the black pacu. Here they occur in both the Orinoco and Amazon river basins. Their range covers the following countries - Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. 

This species is easily able to adapt to ecosystems outside of their range and this has seen introduced populations establish in a number of countries. Many of these come from releases of captive fish which had outgrown their tank.


Where can the Black Pacu survive?

Black pacu are found in the main channel of rivers. During the rainy season they have been seen to move in to flooded forests.

This species shows a tolerance for water with lower oxygen concentrations than most species.

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Credit: Public Domain


How does the Black Pacu produce its young?

Females will spawn a large number of eggs.

Juveniles will initially live in the flooded forests where they are faced by less predation.


What does the Black Pacu do during its day?

Juveniles typically move around in small groups for protection. As they age in to adulthood they will gradually become more solitary.

They will move around during the year.

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Credit: Fir0002, GFDL 1.2 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Black Pacu from surviving and thriving?

These animals are regularly farmed in their range. They are popular for use as food. Larger fish are prioritized and this has seen numbers of these individuals significantly reduced. It is now rare for these large individuals to be caught.

This species has grown its range through releases of captive fish which have outgrown their tanks. In some areas they have been purposefully released in to a watercourse for use in sportfishing.

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Quick facts

This species was first described for science during 1818.

They are also commonly known as the Tambaqui. A number of other common names are used for the species including the black-finned pacu, cachama or giant pacu.

Black Pacu (Colossoma macropomum)

Credit: Tino Strauss, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Smithsonian's National Zoo. 2022. Black pacu. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Black Pacu. 2022. Black Pacu. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Deep Sea World. 2022. Black Pacu | Animals | Discover | Deep Sea World. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022]. 2022. Colossoma macropomum (Black Pacu) — Seriously Fish. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

FishBase. 2022. Colossoma macropomum summary page. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Amazon Waters. 2022. Tambaqui. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 20 April 2022].

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