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Needle Nose Gar

(Xenentodon cancila)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 12"
• Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-82° F, KH 8-15, pH 6.8-7.4
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Southeast Asia   • Family: Belonidae
• Species: Gar   • Aquarium Type: Ancient-Fish

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Species Information

Needle Nose Gar native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Needle Nose Gar (Xenentodon cancila) are found throughout the tropical jungles and rural areas of southeast Asia. They are typically found in slow moving river tributaries and streams where they use the cover provided by overhanging or floating vegetation to ambush small fish, insects and amphibians. Needle Nose Gar are found both in freshwater and brackish water; as well as, coastal waterways that fluctuate between freshwater and brackish water depending on the tidal flow.

They are found living in social groups in the wild, and will do much better in the aquarium environment if they are kept in small groups of 3 or more individuals. Hobbyists with very large aquariums (220 gallons plus) often keep groups of 6 or more Needle Nose Gar successfully. Needle Nose Gar do have sharp teeth that can inflict a nasty cut if provoked, thus hobbyists should be careful when working inside an aquarium housing these fish.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Needle Nose Gar in the home aquarium.

Needle Nose Gar do best in aquariums of 75 gallons or larger. Their long bodies and ability for quick bursts of speed means that they will need an aquarium with at least 4 feet in length and 1 1/2 to 2 feet in depth (front to back). The ideal aquarium setup for this species will contain some floating plants or plants that grow to the surface along with plenty of open swimming area. Moderate or filtered lighting is ideal, with low to moderate water currents.

Be sure to cover the aquarium as is the case with most top water species, the Needle Nose Gar is prone to jumping from out of an open top aquarium. Tank mates should include other large fish species that are too large to be considered as food. Other large ray-finned fishes, most Cichlids, Catfish and other similarly sized semi-aggressive to aggressive fish species typically make good tank mates for a small group of Needle Nose Gar. They are aggressive feeders that once established in the aquarium will compete with most any other tank mates for food.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Needle Nose Gar and provide a healthy diet.

The Needle Nose Gar is a carnivorous species that feeds on a variety of meaty foods in the wild. Their typical prey consists of small fish, crustaceans, insects and amphibians. They use their sleek body and sharp teeth to knife through the water and spear their prey before swallowing them whole.

Hobbyists should feed either live feeder fish, ghost shrimp, crickets, tadpoles, etc. or other similar items. If not feeding live foods, be sure to use a feeding stick or tongs to feed Needle Nose Gar as they will strike quickly and can inflict a nasty cut if fed by hand.

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