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Brazilian Pacu Fish Found in Wyoming Lake

An exotic South American fish was caught by an angler in an area lake, prompting fresh warnings from state game officials that it is illegal to release aquarium fish in Wyoming waters.

Duane Jones said he went fishing for catfish when he hooked a live pacu recently.

Known and sold as "vegetarian piranhas," most pacu have the look and teeth of a piranha but eat vegetation.

Click here to read about other pacu released into the wild.

"It's not a Wyoming fish," deadpanned Roy Whaley, assistant fisheries management coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Odds are that this one came from an aquarium, though it shouldn't have, Whaley said. Releasing aquarium fish or unused baitfish in any water is a misdemeanor offense in Wyoming.

"It's illegal, irresponsible and potentially dangerous to our lakes," Whaley said. "Our native fish are facing enough problems."

Though the tropical fish was doomed to die as the temperature dropped, Whaley said the pacu could have done any number of things to the habitat, such as eating eggs or other species' food sources.

Click here to read about the perils of dumping tropical fish into lakes.