Keeping Gars A short review
By William Berg of Sweden, for http://www.aquaticcommunity.com
If you take a quick look at this species they don't seem like aquarium fishes. They are large and highly predatory. But then again, these are qualities that attract some, like me! If you've been keeping aquariums for a while and have room to keep large predatory fishes I recommend you try these fish, but not until you've done your homework and know gars' requirements and what you are getting yourself into.
Species of gar:
Florida spotted gar, Lepisosteus platyrhinchus A highly varied species of gar. Has more spots on its body and a shorter snout than many other gars. Easily mistaken for spotted gar.
Spotted gar, Lepisosteus oculatus Long snout and spots. Spots to a higher degree towards posterior of its body. Easily mistaken for Florida spotted gar.
Shortnosed gar, Lepisosteus platostomus The shortnosed gar can be identified by its short snout, and by lack of teeth rows in upper jaw like alligator gar, and lack of spots on its body.
Long-nosed gar, Lepisosteus osseus The long-nosed gar is, as name suggests, identified by its long slender snout, and also by its slender body.
Alligator gar, Atractosteus spatula The alligator gar has a short broad snout and two big rows of teeth in upper jaw. This species is spotted on posterior part of body and to a lesser extent on other parts of body.
Tropical gar, Atractosteus tropicus A very rare species.
Manfari or Cuban gar, Atractosteus tristoechus Looks very similar to alligator gar and since it is very rare in trade you can usually assume that your gar is an alligator gar and not a Cuban gar unless otherwise stated. The Cuban gar has a broader snout and lacks pattern on its body.
Beside these species there are a number of hybrids such as crocodile gar.
Spotted, Florida and short-nosed gars are smaller than other species and may be more suitable for aquariums. They usually don't grow larger than 2 feet in aquariums. Long-nosed and alligator gars grow to a very large size and larger ponds are recommended if you'd like to keep fully grown specimens. So if you don't have (or plan on getting) a large pond, stay with smaller species. Even with smaller species you are still going to need a rather large aquarium. The tropical gar also is possible to keep in aquariums as it doesn't grow as large; however this species is very hard to find. The Cuban gar is a red-list endangered species and shouldn't be kept even if you somehow find one.