Cuban Gar

Common NameCuban Gar
Scientific NameAtractosteus tristoechus
OriginCuba
Temperature Range64-73°F
pH Range5.5-8
Adult Size100-200cm
DietLive Food

Cuban Gar Facts:

  • Currently on the endangered species list.
  • These fish are covered in a thin coat of oil that helps them move through the water with ease.
  • Cuban Gars can breathe air thanks to their primitive swim bladder.

Cuban Gar

The Cuban Gar is an interesting specimen. As a pet it’s equivalent to buying a prehistoric beast. It remains one of the most primitive specimens still alive today, though it is on the endangered species list. If choosing to raise a Cuban gar, it should be noted that they’re extremely hearty fish and can live for decades if properly maintained. This means investing in an extremely large tank, or considering an outdoor installation that can be adequately heated and maintained.

Tank maintenance and habitat maintenance for these fish can be simple since they have such a broad tolerance for different conditions. In the wild, the fish can be found in freshwater pools, flood plains, swamps, and rivers. Generally they can be found in public aquariums and breeding facilities, since they require an incredible amount of space and can live for so long. You can occasionally find them offered as pets, but that market is limited due to their endangered status, size, lifespan, and diet. They’re ambush predators and will eat whatever can fit in their mouths like many other larger predatory fish, but even so, feeder fish are not the recommended fare for these guys. Instead, they should be weaned onto frozen food like prawns as early as possible. As such, the initial cost to feed them can be very high. Juveniles need to be fed daily and will not survive on feeder fish if you choose to skimp. If absolutely necessary, it’s suggested that feeders be kept separately for up to two weeks where they can be fed a highly nutritious diet to get them healthy enough to be of nutritional value to the gar. Not a whole lot of fun there. As Cuban gars grow, they require fewer feedings, but heartier meals like whole trout. They are a large, interesting fish, but proper maintenance can become costly.

If you really and truly need to see a gar, your best bet is to visit your local aquarium where they’re often kept. Easily confused with the alligator gar, the Cuban gar is notably smaller with a less pronounced snout. They are absolutely beautiful to look at and if you really do want to be more involved with a fish, Cuban gars are certainly available if you look hard enough and have a little patience. But again, be sure to invest in the proper equipment, the proper nutrition, and make sure you have the time to give up for your living fossil. They are best for advanced aquarists, but sometimes it can be fun to raise a real river monster.

Posted on August 10, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.