Suggest a Gar for 120 gallon tank for fish newbie? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-15-2013, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Suggest a Gar for 120 gallon tank for fish newbie?

I'm brand new here and I'm going to jump off into the deep end for my first post!

I have experience in fishkeeping, but my forte is fancy goldfish, and only recently I've become the owner of some guppies and surprise killifish that hitchhiked in on some plants. I know next to nothing about Ancient fish, so I need a bit of help.

The other day I was with a friend, and her boyfriend said he has plans for getting a gar. However it immediately became clear that he wants it because he saw one in a public aquarium and thought it looked "cool", and doesn't know much about what they need. He said he wants a 120 gallon aquarium because "they grow to the size of the tank". I know this is definitely not true with other fish, and told him so, but he waved away my misgivings. He seems to have a lot of confidence, but he has no fish experience as far as I'm aware. I'm worried this will quickly become a disaster.

Can anyone with gar experience give me some tips on fish to suggest for him? Can any gars safely be kept in tanks 120 gallons or less? I'm going to try my best to ensure that he doesn't just come home with an empty tank and a gar in a bag....

Thanks very much!
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-16-2013, 07:11 PM
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There are species of gar that don't get too huge. I've never kept gars but my nephew had a rocket gar whichget about 8-10 inches. Google them and do research. They are predators so,tankmates must be chosen carefully.
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-20-2013, 06:53 AM
I had an Alligator Gar in a 120 for years. He was eventually - dare I say - eaten, but we had him for a good 10 years and he wasn't large enough to need a new home yet. They get 8 foot long if they live up to their potential, though and cannot be housed with anything else. He was a beautiful, personable fish and he even let us pet him. Florida Gar, Shortnose Gar, Spotted Gar all stay small enough to live in a 120 for life and can be house with bichirs. (preferably the larger species like ornates) Hope that helped!
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-20-2013, 01:23 PM
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I've kept asian gar that did not exceed 10" after about 5 years. They seemed to stop growing but I can't be sure about because I gave them away to make room for cichlid breeding. They are from Thailand/Cambodia; very long beautiful fish with the classic elongated gar snout and needle teeth. I had 3 in a 75 gal with other fish so if your worrid about eventual size, Asian Gar might be an option. A school of 7 or so would be stunning in a 120 gallon.

No fish "grows to the size of its tank". Poor living condition might stunt the growth of a fish, but that can't be seen as a good thing. Thanks for bringing this to the forum, rather than let your friend buy a fish that will outgrow the tank.

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post #5 of 9 Old 12-20-2013, 01:29 PM
You keep anything with them, skylight?
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-20-2013, 02:08 PM
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I had armoured catfish and kuhli loaches

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post #7 of 9 Old 12-20-2013, 06:12 PM
Keep in mind these guys are not likely to eat anything but live food. Skipping down to the pet store for goldfish seems harmless enough until you get more than you paid for.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-21-2013, 12:03 AM
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Good point henningc , my gar would only eat small guppies and live mosquito larvae.

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post #9 of 9 Old 02-22-2014, 12:16 AM
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I've got hujeta gar and south american gar/striped pike characin (which are not true gar, they are really characin) which only grow to lengths of maybe 10-12".

Florida gar, spotted gar (which I also have), alligator gar all can reach great lengths. Like these guys have said, you can house them in smaller aquariums but they have the potential to get massive and outgrow even a 6 foot tank. If they don't they are either unhealthy or unhappy. Depending on the dimension of the tank (a lot of 120's are 4 foot tanks that are deeper and taller than 75g/90g and not 6 footers) I'd say a minimum of 125 gallon for a true gar. Even then a 125g is a pretty slender tank and doesn't leave a lot of turn around room for a gar getting into adult size. If I am to keep the spotted gar I have right now to full adult size even in the restraints of a home aquarium I'm gonna want him in a 210 at least. I've seen Florida gar in the LFS here about 2 feet long brought in as trade ins that were definitely too small for the 125g they were housed in at the store. They had obviously come from a larger tank that let them grow to a size that was entirely too large for the 125g.

That tank could last for a while, but with proper feeding and correct care it'll outgrow it or it'll live uncomfortably.

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