Britain's biggest Pacu dies, aged 16


One of the largest residents of Britain's biggest privately owned aquarium has died.

Measuring exactly 90cm/3ft in length and weighing in at five stone (as heavy as a Labrador) Jack Heathcote’s largest of three Pacu died from what its owner is guessing was old age.

At 59cm/23.5in inches deep in the body, the Black pacu (Colossoma macropomum) was a monster fish in many ways and demonstrates perfectly why it's become a poster fish of the Big Fish Campaign, which was brought about by the public aquariums who can no longer take in overgrown, unwanted fish.

But, although probably the largest Pacu known in captivity, Jack Heathcote’s 16-year-old specimen was certainly not the oldest.

That title belongs to a Black pacu called Buttkiss, which lives in a pet shop in Queens, New York, and is claimed to be at least 43 years old, although interestingly it's a smaller fish at a mere 9kg (verses Jack’s 32kg) and 58cm/23in total length.

Sixteen years is a good age, although Jack’s fish’s very unorthodox diet, which included sausages and even fluorescent light tubes on occasion, appeared not to have done it much good.

Jack Heathcote’s mammoth 18,000 litre aquarium has starred in television programmes, national newspapers and magazines, although it created headlines again recently when crippling electricity bills forced Jack to make the decision to close the tank and try to rehome the fish.

"I was so glad he died in a way, as now I don’t feel I ever failed him," remarked Jack Heathcote, who was faced with the prospect of sending the much loved pet to a far smaller tank.

In their native Amazon waterways, Black pacu are known by the locals as Tambaqui, and make for good eating.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.