Name that creature: Strange fish found in Tennessee River

Published: Jul. 19, 2013 at 6:54 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2013 at 6:54 PM CDT
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Fish found at Ditto Landing (Source: Chris Brasher)
Fish found at Ditto Landing (Source: Chris Brasher)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A North Alabama fisherman caught what he thought was a strange fish in the Tennessee River at Ditto Landing.

"It was really no time at all," said Chris Brasher.  "The fish took off with it and really I thought it was just a big bream. I got it in and it was a strange looking fish."

Brasher said it has teeth and doesn't look like anything he's seen in the river since he's been fishing for at least 20 years. Other people he's asked don't have a clue what it is, either.

"Most people I've talked to said it might be a peacock bass, I've gotten black crappie, and just a few different ones," he said.  "I got to looking it up online and they are leading towards and Oscar fish."

Fish experts we spoke to at PetSmart agreed.  They quickly ruled out a piranha or a pacu but said they'd have to see it in person to be sure.

In 2008, a similar fish was caught in Lake Guntersville. It was identified as a pacu, a South American species that feeds on vegetation and is sometimes found in Lake Guntersville.

At first, anglers thought it was a piranha because the fish resembles the toothy fish. Pacu eats vegetation found in North Alabama waterways.

The Oscar fish is a species of fish also found in South America and is a popular aquarium fish in the United States. A marine biologist WAFF spoke to said that the mouth of the fish seemed inconsistent with that of the Oscar.

We're told if the fish is an Oscar, it can survive in the waters at Ditto Landing, but only in the summer months.  They said it will get too cold for the fish to survive in the winter.

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