COMMON NAME -
Florida Gar, Florida Garpike
SCIENTIFIC NAME -Lepisosteus platyrhincus
Widespread throughout Georgia and Florida & nearby waterways.
Inhabits multiple locations. Usually found in weed choked bayous/swamps/small back water ways with some open swimming area nearby overhanging vegetation. Ponds, large rivers and streams, and stagnant areas are also areas possible places for this fish.
30-52" more or less depending on the individual fish.
MIMIMUM TANKS SIZE -
200 gallon or more is preferred for an adult Florida Gar, will not “stunt” to fit into a 55 gallon. Length and width is most important, best suited for breeder tanks which the footprint is somewhat different then show tanks (which are skinny high, and long). Best bet- building your own custom made acrylic tank.
NATURAL & CAPTIVE DIET -
Piscivorous, main diet consists of fish and the occasional reptiles, amphibians, mammals, inverts, and the like that show up. A large amount of gars only take to feeders, if so; all care should be taken to quarantine them, treating for parasites and fungus, and must be fed high quality foods beforehand. A short starvation period should be effective in converting from live foods only to frozen and freeze dried foods. Freeze dried krill and market prawns/shrimp are quite readily taken by most individuals.
TANK ZONE -
All levels. Will swim at the top of the water when needing air mostly, but swims through the middle zone for the most part. Laying on the bottom for a while is also sometimes common.
TEMPERMENT & COMPATABILITY -
Generally a peaceful quiet fish despite it’s large teeth and predatory nature. Attacks fish only smaller than itself considerably in most cases, easily picked on. Goes great with other gars, and certain bichirs.
pH range- 6.5-8.0 Optimal pH- 7.0-7.5
Temperature range- 50-85 Optimal temperature-76-78
Salinity range- 1.000-1.009 Optimal salinity- 1.000
NOTABLE SENSATIVITIES -
Fungus, aggressive tank mates, stress, and small tanks.
HARDINESS & LIFESPAN -
Extremely hardy and powerful fish that can live for over 10-20 years if properly cared for.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION -
Whitish color with somewhat light black spots covering entire body except the stomach which is plain white in color. Black band running from snout to middle of it’s body, short snout compared to other gars like the Longnose gar. Patterns change throughout lifespan- floridas are commonly misidentified as spotteds.
ACTIVITY PEAK -
Diurnal, slightly nocturnal at times.
Large powerful fish that loves cruising around the tank. Despite being a fearful predator, it’s quite peaceful and squirmish. When I was fishing for them, they’d pick at the shrimp on the hook, not snapping it up like I initially thought.
Rarely done in the home aquaria, only about two real successes have occurred and been documented with this species (most gar species are the same). Usually only breed in large fish ponds by businesses selling them. The mated pair with lay eggs over a large amount of vegetation. A few days later eggs hatch and fry have a suction cup like piece of skin on the top of the snout which they use to hang onto plants. Fry usually eat zoo plankton at the first stages of their lives.
OTHER NOTES -
The Florida Gar, or any gar for that matter, are large powerful, hardy, animals that have been around for millions of years. They need considerable sized tanks, filtration, a lot of food, suitable tank mates, and the like. Just because they are hardy and can survive in water with almost no oxygen doesn’t mean they should be subjected to it. They have hard scales capable of being hit with a bow and not be effected, can breathe atmospheric air, and can take a lot of “wear and tear”, which once again should not be tested in ANY case. They are one of the more popular species of gar, and have even been known (in the wild) to travel through slightly brackish to almost full marine waterways.
Pictures can be seen at : http://aqualandpetsplus.com/Oddball,%20Gar.htm