NANFA-L-- Tank Buster Tank Size...

Subject: NANFA-L-- Tank Buster Tank Size...
From: Crail, Todd (farmertodd at
Date: Mon Oct 04 2004 - 14:02:25 CDT

Hi Andrew,

I'll just cover keeping big fishes...

"Too small", "just right", "big enough" are all relative terms. I can only guess that there's going to be two prevalent opinions on your specific question, and I'm sure either side could argue it vehemently until we were all blue in the fingers ;) I guess what I'd encourage you to do is decide for yourself what's acceptable, but hopefully this will serve as a guide for your decision.

There are a couple things that are concrete in the situation.
1) The tank in question is 18" at its shortest point.
2) The fish in question will exceed 18" within a few years of life if fed a reasonable amount of food
3) The fish in question will damage itself due to behavoir or activities, or humane health is compromised due to the oversize proportion of the body-to-tank's shortest point (volume applies as well).

For example, an 18" gar that is bumping its snout and tail trying to turn around will freak out big time (makes it prone to thrash and slam into fixtures over the tank trying to turn "vertically"). You can see this early on when they get themselves in a predicament between a piece of driftwood and the glass or something. If it happens continually, like when the fish's length exceeds to shortest distance of the tank... The bumps on the snout get infected and it's a constant battle to maintain the fight against the infection. And that's just a light case... It can get really ugly if they break their snout, the glass, knock a light into the tank while it's on, etc.

At this point, you need to define _your_ tolerances and base the decision from that.

Is feeding the animal a substandard diet to maximize the time you have the animal in your care above or below your tolerances?

Is watching it slam into the tank and equipment above or below your tolerances, and if below, how would you solve this? Let it continue? Euthenize? Give it to someone else? (they have to know they're getting it before you get the animal btw ;)

The options here are wide and varying. These are just two of the potential questions you should ask yourself... There's plenty more to think of :) I've left it pretty open ended.

Now for some opinion that might be helpful...

First of all, I'd say a gar would be one of our "big boys" best suited for sedentary life in a smaller container. Bowfin and catfish would be equally suited.

However, I'm not so sure about sturgeon and paddlefish. They really need to change scenery frequently, and end up banged up when they can't. For example, my least favorite fish exhibit at the Toledo Zoo is where they have sturgeon and walleye. The fish look like they've been to Hell and back from banging into the sides.

Back to gar... If it were me, and I just _had_ to get one... I would look into 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tubs as an eventual home. They're inexpensive for what you get and they're really sturdy. You would have to figure out how to keep it over winter if far enough north. Solve that, and you're in business (well for size anyway... Feeding is a whole other issue). As long as they can turn unimpeeded, they're doing just dandy. So it becomes a retirement home for your friends you've made indoors along the way. Not so bad. Not excessively expensive.

And then if you're really nuts about this... You can go as far as our good Fellow Snorkelmeister (tm) and set up a See-Mint Pond! :)


----- Original Message -----
  From: Snailcollector at
  To: nanfa-l at
  Sent: Monday, October 04, 2004 1:08 PM
  Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Gar tank size?

  So, do you think the tank is too small?


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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 11:27:37 CST