CONTACT:
Steve Perry: (603) 271-2501
Robert Fawcett: (603) 271-2501
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
August 8, 2005


Angler Pulls in Piranha-like Fish in Hudson:
AQUARIUM FISH SHOULD NEVER BE RELEASED

CONCORD, N.H. -- After a piranha-like fish was caught in Tate Pond in Hudson Sunday night, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has issued a reminder that it is illegal to release aquarium fish into the wild.

"The biggest concern with an illegal release is the potential disruption of the aquatic system's ecological balance," said Robert Fawcett, Hatcheries Supervisor at Fish and Game. "Escapees and intentionally released non-native fish can devastate New Hampshire's natural habitats. If they adapt to the environment, new arrivals may out-compete our native species."

The piranha-like fish gave Jacob Wurm of Manchester an impressive fight, jumping out of the water like a bass and flashing a formidable set of teeth. Wurm brought the fish in to New Hampshire Fish and Game Department headquarters on Monday. Weighing 2.5 pounds and measuring between 14 and 15 inches in length, the specimen looked like an oversized sunfish, armed, literally, to the teeth. Fish and Game officials identified the fish as a pacu, native to South America. While it looks very much like a piranha, the pacu has rounded, rather than sharp, teeth and it eats fruits and nuts instead of flesh, though it will take bait.

Most likely, this pacu was an unwanted fish dumped from someone's tropical aquarium, said Robert Fawcett. It is illegal to release any fish into the public waters of New Hampshire without a permit, and permits are never issued for prohibited species like piranha or pacu. Release of any exotic species is illegal - even familiar carp and goldfish can cause big problems competing with native fish for food and space if they become established in local waterbodies.

What can you do if you have unwanted aquarium or ornamental pond fish you want to get rid of? Trade or give your fish to another aquarist; donate them to a local museum or school; or dispose of them humanely by freezing. The metabolism of a fish or aquatic animal will slow down as the temperature goes down. When the water is frozen, the fish or animal will be dead and can be discarded. To avoid stressing the fish as the temperature drops, anesthetize them with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol before placing them in the freezer. Don't Leave Them Stranded Brochure

For more information on disposing of unwanted fish and plants from aquariums and ornamental ponds, click here to download the brochure "Don't Leave Them Stranded" or call (603) 271-3211 to order copies.

To obtain additional information on what you can do to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species visit http://www.ProtectYourWaters.net/nh.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.

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