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Gars in the aquarium:

Species of gar:
Florida spotted gar, Lepisosteus platyrhinchus
Spotted gar, Lepisosteus oculatus
Shortnosed gar, Lepisosteus platostomus
Long-nosed gar, Lepisosteus osseus
Alligator gar, Atractosteus spatula
Tropical gar, Atractosteus tropicus
Manfari or Cuban gar Atractosteus tristoechus

Of all gar that are available only the Spotted, Florida, and Shortnose
should be considered for aquarium care, Longnosed gar grow entirely
to large for the average hobbyist , Alligator gar; just get it out of your
mind, these fish are utterly impossible to keep without a very large pond,
as cool a fish they are just enjoy seeing them at a public aquarium, don't
kid yourself into thinking you can keep one indoors. The Tropical could
possibly be kept, that is if you could find one. Cuban is a Red-list
endangered species and is not available anyhow.

Of the above gar, I'm only going to write about the most common
you are likely to come across, the Shortnose, Spotted or Florida gars,
All three of these fish tend to stay below two feet in the aquarium, and
are Frequently labled as the "Alligator gar" in most LFS, to tell the
species apart is quite simple, a Shortnose will have a "shortnose"
and will not have any spotting on the top of the head,
The Spotted and Florida will have a spotted head, to tell these two apart,
you need to examine for plates on the isthmus,(Fleshy area between lower jaws
extending back to the Gills) on the Spotted gar this will have bony plates,
on the Florida these plates will be absent,

Caring for gar:
Gar are beyond undemanding fish all they require is appropriate food,
clean water and a good amount of space,

Gar can be feed your usual Feeder prey, Goldfish and such, Goldfish
though should never be the only thing fed, they are not overly nutritious
and do contain a B vitamin destroying enzyme, I prefer to offer them
Minnows from the Local bait shop over those found in the LFS,
It is also easy to train these fish to take frozen or prepared foods,
and in the long haul this is really your best option for convenience , price
and health of your fish, frozen whole fish such as Silversides, and Smelt
are preferable to strips of fish flesh, as you do want the whole body of
the feed animal for proper nutrition,

Gar need a lot of room to move, I would not recommend keeping them in
anything under a 75 gallon Breeder, Breeder tanks are preferable to a
regular tank as they provide the needed surface area and turning space,
The water does not need to be anything special, they need no specific
pH or hardness and will tolerate all but the most acrid water with ease,
they do however require clean water, and being a carnivorous they dirty
their water quickly, Small yet frequent water changes are a necessity,
Temperature is not critical and can range from 60 to 90 degrees
A one to two inch space should be left at the top of the tank, Gar do
"Breath" air and will suffer greatly if not allowed atmospheric air.

Some notes on Behavior and Care:
Gar are more or less an ambush predators, they do stalk their prey but
Prefer that their food comes to them, they can be lightning fast in the
presence of food if hungry though, they are NOT aggressive fish at all,
they do not show any signs of territorial aggression or belligerence of any
sort to any other fish they do not consider to be a prey item, anything they can
cram into their maw will be a prey item, Gars live in somewhat loose
schools in the wild, and only really congregate to breed in late spring,
Breeding has been accomplished in the aquarium for the Spotted gar
(T.F.H. August 2002 issue, Hiroshi Azuma's account is well
documented), Avoid keeping Gars with any type of Pl*co as they
will suck on the sides of the fish and cause all sorts of infections
which can be hard to treat, Gars are very sensitive to most medications
and should never be given any in a full dose, often this makes it hard
to treat the fish after a infection sets in, prevention is best,

I think I've covered the most important aspects to keeping these fish,
any questions just ask

(Pics available in later posts)

joey'd is da man
14,077 Posts
I have a few questions:
*what are the top sizes for each species?
*how long does it take for them to grow?
*do you have any breeding info?
*can you post pics of each type you coverd?
*how do you sex them?
*can you keep them with other tankmates?

1,647 Posts

Flordia gar

Spotted gar

Shortnose gar (pic from www. garfishing.com)
for more Pics of these fish the above sources are very good,

The size of the shortnose in the pic equals the usual max size in the
wild, the Spotted, flordia, and Shortnose all reach
about three foot, in aquaria they tend to stay a bit smaller with a
maximum size of around 1 1/2 to 2 foot,

Gar grow very quickly the first year, it is not unusual for them to
reach 1 foot in a year, they then drasticly slow down in aquarium kept

Captive breeding in aquaria I covered
Breeding has been accomplished in the aquarium for the Spotted gar
info on how, I do not know, as mentioned look for this issue of
Tropical fish hobbyist, T.F.H. August 2002, Hiroshi Azuma did manage to do it,
Then it seems as Mr. Azuma can breed anything, While I'm
highly intrigued about the prospect and hope to breed my Longnoses in a pond,
I really have done no research into aquarium culture of gars, It is possable
and someday I'll try it, but for now I do not think the information is available to
do so with any sucess, there is still too little known of their biology and what will
trigger both the production of eggs in the female and the instict to spawn,
hopefully in time we will know more, and more people will put an effort into it,
Pond culture is very much possable and is being done commercially with the
florida spotted gar, and to a limited extent the Alligator gar.

Sexing Gars is next to impossable, usually though the female are larger
and have much more bulk than the males, it should also be noted females
will live much longer than males, average lifespan of a male is 10 years or so,
females may live up to 40, females are also slow to mature

Gars do just fine with any fish that
1. will not fit in it's mouth
2. will not agressively attack it
3. will not annoy it, catfish often seriously annoy gar with their night
time anticts, gar are laid back fish they do not care much for spastic
activity, this often will stress them to where they go off feeding,

158 Posts
i got a ?. My spotted gar (looks identical to the first pic) is about a ft. long, and i have 2 one in. corys in the tank. Im just wondering why the gar never eats them. Is it becuase of thier armor what
it eats everyother fish i put in there

17 Posts
hi, i'm new to this board; but that's some good info in there

check out the picture in my sig...it's a Cuban gar that I was recently able to acquire with through the efforts of George Fear at Shark Aquarium. I am currently working on importing Tropical gars and they should be arriving in mid-July. for anyone interested in these gars, please PM or email me at [email protected]

again, great thread!--

17 Posts
lemmywinks said:
dead golfish said:
Polypterus you said that gars do not like spastic activity and are laid back would they be alright with tiger or tinfoil barbs or bala sharks?
as long as they dont fit in the gars mouth it should be ok :nod:
i agree; i have kept gars for years and they do ok with fishes that are more active than they are (like the barbs and bala sharks) as long as the other fishes don't fit in their mouths. this would actually take some pretty big barbs or sharks since gars grow quite quickly and a 10" barb or bala shark is relatively hard to come by.

the better tank mates for gars are generally large catfishes (RTC or TSN of the same size do well), bichirs, and other peaceful non-aggressive fishes.--

1,647 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I would like it to be known that an individual named William Berg has totally plagerized this original post and has been spreading some article around called Keeping Gars - A short review. this article is nothing but my material altered slightly.

This article of his is a total rip off of the above original post and for some reason he refuses to reference this original material first posted here.

I do not personally care much for people that can't think for themselves.
Feel free anyone that has found this post useful to go over and tell Mr. Berg where his "article" came from and to stop calling it his own.

Here is his website with a link:

Please note the Submit modification request in the bottom right hand corner

14,969 Posts
Sorry, but your attempt to submit a modification request for the Article: Keeping Gars - A short review
cannot be accepted at this time because there is already a pending modification request.

Please try again later.

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thats what i got clickin the submit request, did i do something wrong?

1,647 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sorry, but your attempt to submit a modification request for the Article: Keeping Gars - A short review
cannot be accepted at this time because there is already a pending modification request.

Please try again later.

Return to Items System Index.
thats what i got clickin the submit request, did i do something wrong?
LOL... the pending request line seems to be always there as for some reason SOMEBODY is not adding the request I made to have this particular thread used as a reference in this plagerized article.
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