What is the devil fish?
The devil fish or hypostomus plecostomus is commonly known as the cleaner fish, pleco, armored catfish or suckermouth catfish. In Mexico, however, residents of the reservoir El Infiernillo or "Little Hell" in Michoacán, named the exotic species the devil fish due to its disastrous effects on the environment and fishing industry. In its native South America, the devil fish has an array of different names — we've chosen its name in Brazil, Acari (ah-car-ee).
Though it has an odd, almost prehistoric appearance, the Acari is a relative of the common catfish and has a smooth, mild flavor. Fillets have a pinkish-white hue and are sold without bones. Acari boasts high amounts of protein, omega-3s, Vitamin A and Vitamin B1.
Mike Mitchell founded Acari Fish in May 2016 following his experience as a Fulbright research fellow in Tabasco, Mexico. Originally from Los Angeles, Mike had spent years working with sustainable fisheries and aquaponics before coming to Mexico to research small-scale fish farming. Once in Tabasco, however, he quickly discovered that the true problem in rural fishing communities was not related to fish farming but rather the much feared 'devil fish' as local fishermen called it.
After asking around the local university and researching online, Mike realized that the 'devil fish' was actually the plecostomus or 'armored catfish', a common fish in household aquariums known for its veracity in consuming algae. Based on well-known studies of other fish like the orange roughy and Chilean sea bass, where producers gave formerly discarded species a new name and a makeover, Mike asked, "Well, why can't we just do the same with this fish?"
And that's exactly what Acari has done over the past year — through a series of workshops, presentations and tasting events, Acari has worked to change the perception of the devil fish in Tabasco, one mouthful at a time. The team has also implemented its first 'module' in the community of Simón Sarlat to process the fish. By partnering with chefs around Mexico, Acari has begun selling devil fish fillets, in turn providing a new source of employment to local fishermen. Acari, driven by its mission to 'turn the devil into an angel', has now partnered with migrant shelters like La 72 to donate a portion of its products to support these vulnerable populations.
“We're turning the devil into the food of the resistance.”
Mike Mitchell | Founder
Join the Movement
To grow our business and convert the devil fish into a nutritious food that benefits people from Tapachula to Tijuana, we need your help.
To build our business we're looking for an investment of $10,000. Our primary needs to make this happen are the following:
- Purchase additional equipment like a dehydrator, additional refrigeration and packaging machines to produce the croquettes and fish jerky
- Install several add-on's to our production facility like air conditioning and drainage to make it FDA-compilable
- Buy processing equipment to utilize the fish waste material and produce animal feed and/or fertilizer
- Meet with distributors in Mexico and the U.S. and send samples
- Invest in packaging and marketing materials for the Acarí brand
Every contribution no matter the size will help us in our dream of achieving our "quadruple bottom line" business.
buy our products
We currently distribute our packages of fillet and croquettes around Mexico. We hope to gain FDA approval and start shipping to the U.S. by the end of 2017. With the purchase of our products you not only support local fishermen but also help provide invaluable nutrition for vulnerable refugees and migrants in Mexico.
spread the word
Help share what we're doing with friends and family! And make sure to give us a like on Facebook to keep up with all the latest Acari news.