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Ctenolucius hujeta; was - Re: Moving!   7/3/11
You make an interesting suggestion. Could you possibly suggest a blueprint of a "perfect" 90 gallon Hujeta Gar tank setup?
Thanks for your help.
<Hello Rob. Ctenolucius hujeta is best kept in small groups, ideally equal numbers of males and females (they have differently shaped anal fins) but I have two males and they mostly get along fine. In a 90-gallon tank I'd be aiming for a group of 5-6 specimens, though a pair or trio would be fine if you wanted more space for other fish. Tankmates can include anything that isn't so small they'd be swallowed; large characins, rainbowfish and barbs would all fit the bill nicely. Non-aggressive loaches and catfish would
work too. Ctenolucius hujeta are quite adaptable but the ideal conditions would be soft to moderately hard, around neutral water (2-12 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5) and water that has a brisk current even though they are somewhat adapted to stagnant water (they have peculiar flaps on their jaws for absorbing extra oxygen). In a good current they're surprisingly lively.
They aren't too fussed about plants though floating plants seem welcome.
Couldn't care less about decorations at the middle and lower levels, so do what you want in those parts of the tank. In short, they fit into almost any medium-sized fish community system. Mine live with Ameca splendens, Dwarf Upside-down Catfish, a Cherry-Fin Loach, a Garra, and a Royal Plec.
There's more, here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ctenolucius hujeta   7/4.5/11

Sounds like a nice tank. I like the idea of the hujeta knocking off the livebearer fry.
<Can be a useful trait!>
I feel bad for asking this, as you have already helped me out a lot as it is and steered me off the rocks of my own impetuousness once again.
Could I keep one or two Cetopsis coecutiens in my 90gal? if so what sort of biotope? It sounds like a wild and easy to keep species tank.
<I don't know much about Cetopsis coecutiens, though I have seen them in shops like Wildwoods now and again. Although reported to be fairly easy to keep (provided you provide adequate space, lots of oxygen, and low to middling tropical temperatures) they can't be trusted with other fish. They feed in two ways, partly on small prey they can swallow whole, and partly on biting chunks out of larger fish (in this regard being very similar to the infamous Cookie-Cutter Sharks). On the other hand they are reported to be sociable with their own kind. They also seem to be adaptable feeders that quickly take earthworms, tilapia fillet, etc. Given their adult size of around 20 cm/10 inches, a 90 gallon tank would be adequate rather than generous. Decor would need to be something evocative of a deep river channel -- which in South America would include things like smooth silica sand, bogwood, water-worn pebbles, and ideally some large hollow log-like structures within which the catfish could hide. Lighting would need to be dim, ideally a few spotlights so there'd be dark and brighter patches in the tank. These aren't catfish I'd particularly recommend. They're not, for example, like the wonderful Jaguar Cat (Liosomadoras oncinus) that is similar in size and just as shy, but completely harmless towards fish it can't swallow whole. My very favourite big catfish is the superb Sorubim lima, a species that combines large size (around 35-45 cm/14-18 inches), sociable personality (please keep two or more!), looks amazing, and best of all, is completely peaceful and easy to feed on anything, even pellets. So provided you choose appropriate tankmates, such as Severums and Silver Dollars, you can have your "Big Cat" fix while also creating a beautiful community tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ctenolucius hujeta      7/5/11

I hear what your saying, and as always you give good advice. I'm going to research those fish now.
I confess that I like the idea of keeping a fish that few people have. I also like the idea that its a fast moving fish as well, at least this seems to indicate that it is
<Absolutely. They are fast-moving fish, at least they need to be in the wild. Their favoured prey are, apparently, the large predatory catfish such as the giant pimelodids. Again, the parallels with Cookie-Cutter Sharks are obvious.>
My LFS is getting some regardless of what I decide so I will have a chance to look before hand. Perhaps I might make a few observations on keeping them (if I decide to get them) in the process?
<Sounds like a plan. My only issue is this: While you could keep these in a tank by themselves without problems, the question is whether you'd be happy with a tank containing a couple of catfish you rarely saw for 15+ years. I tend to prefer tanks that allow me to add or remove tankmates on an ongoing basis, so the aquarium always has something new as well as attractive.>
Thanks again Neale, you are the man.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ctenolucius hujeta; comp.   7/23/11
So you're right as always.
<Not sure my girlfriend would agree'¦>
I'm going to go with a Ctenolucius hujeta tank with a single Xenentodon cancila. will that work?
<I'm not 100% sure, but it's definitely worth a shot. They're similar in temperament, and though the Ctenolucius are a bit smaller, they're quite chunky, and I'd expect the Xenentodon would leave them alone. Ctenolucius are somewhat social, so do try and keep more than one. Do also keep your eyes peeled for Boulengerella species. Some get huge (see Google!) but the 30-40 cm long species are extremely attractive, rather placid predators.>
As well, how risky would it be to have a few crayfish on the bottom? I've always wanted some of the handsome ones but they eat fish... I'm wondering if the fish I've chosen would be safe?
<Well, Xenentodon does eat crustaceans in the wild, so my assumption would be if it could catch any crayfish small enough to swallow, it would eat them. But on the other hand I don't see a large crayfish being at any severe risk. Crayfish can/do cause problems in fish tanks through aggression and opportunistic predation, so there's always a risk from that angle. I'm not a huge fan of crayfish in community tanks. By all means try it, be alert to the risks and act accordingly.>
Thanks for your patience, If your ever in Toronto please drop me a line so I can buy you a stack of beers.
<Real good.>
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Ctenolucius hujeta;   7/23/11
So I'm cycling the 90 gallon tank right now. It has 40lbs of good quality gravel with 30lbs of light planted tank substrate on top (from an existing 20 gallon heavily planted tank). I think it looks nice, the gravel is black layered larger pieces on the bottom to progressively finer, the planted stuff is light and sits on top. Lots of driftwood and rocks. Lots of easy to maintain plants and java moss. Got a dozen tank bred Danios cycling it right now, as well as three Kuhli loaches from the old 20 gal planted tank.
<Sounds good. Do look at the hardy Cryptocoryne species like C. wendtii; these are ideal for providing ground cover in big tanks. They don't take up so much space as Vallisneria, but unlike Java ferns, Anubias and Java moss, they do go in the gravel rather than on bits of bogwood.>
I'm thinking 4 Ctenolucius hujeta 1:1 male female ratio,
One Xenentodon cancila for a start, more if it thrives,
<A wise approach. They're fiddly feeders, but will take live crickets, and these can be easily dusted with vitamin supplements as well as gut-loaded.
Mealworms and earthworms are also good for rounding out the diet. As ever, avoid using feeder fish unless home-bred, non-cyprinid types.>
and more small pike type fish (pikehead Gourami?) in due course?
<Luciocephalus; extremely difficult to maintain. Needs a single species tank with very soft (1-2 degrees dH, 0 carbonate hardness) and very acidic water (pH 5.5). Once the pH gets above 6, the bacteria count in the water rockets, and these blackwater fish simply can't handle that.>
Basic husbandry question here. The tank is sitting 89.7degrees lengthwise and 89.3 in width, I thought that that was pretty good yet the water level is 1.1cm higher on one side. That seems like a lot to me. The tank is only two years old and in in good condition. I am assured that it is fine but I don't trust it. The tank is difficult to shim as the whole base contacts the floor (picture attached). Is this setup safe?
<Yep, should be fine.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ctenolucius hujeta;  7/24/11
Thanks man, I'm on the path to a good setup here.
Would you be kind enough to suggest a few "pike type" tank mates that I could potentially add some months down the line?
<Think you'll be crowded already, and frankly, apart from the Ctenolucius, Boulengerella, and Xenentodon, there's not a huge variety at this size range. Pike Livebearers would be too difficult to feed, and North American Gar (Lepisosteus spp.) would be too large.>
Or anything interestingly oddball that would inhabit the bottom?
<Smallish Pike Cichlid perhaps? Otherwise would look for a fun, characterful midwater fish, perhaps a Ctenopoma or South American cichlid, and then one or more bottom dwellers, perhaps a Tyre-Track Eel or some sort of Synodontis or Loricariid. Essentially fish that won't molest the peaceful surface dwellers and won't compete for food. If they happen to eat leftovers and algae as well, so much the better, in which case perhaps something like a Panaque or Baryancistrus. If you have an open sandy substrate, giant Whiptails would be superb companions for surface swimming predators. I'm a big fan of these fish; see my recent article in TFH:
Pseudohemiodon apithanos is particularly impressive, thanks to its colour-changing abilities.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ctenolucius hujeta   8/1/11
Added a pair of Ctenolucius hujeta to the tank Saturday, I had thought that the Danios that had cycled the tank were large enough to be safe. I was wrong, by Monday all the unfortunate fish had been consumed.
I'm not happy about it as I'm thinking weaning onto frozen/dry food will be more challenging now.
<Shouldn't be. But a whole Danio will provide a lot of energy, so give them 2-3 days before offering anything else.>
I'm going to try to teach them to take floating pellets (as I have a giant bag of the stuff) using crickets to start the process. I've had good luck with this in the past. Could you suggest an alternate method?
<I got mine feeding on seafood within 24 hours. Simply get 'em hungry, and then use needle-nose forceps to dangle a sliver of prawn or fish fillet in the water. They're visual predators that appreciate movement. Wiggle the prey in the current. Eventually, they'll nose up to the food, and with luck, snap at it. It's very quick, and the first time, quite surprising!>
I'm happy with the fish,
<Glad to hear it. For predatory fish, they're very easy to keep, and compatible with all sorts of stuff. A nice fierce look, obvious speed and power, but a gentle temperament and moderate size.>
the male seems very comfortable with the tank already and the female is settling in as well often taking station astern of him.
<Yep, this is what they like to do. They're often said to be sedate, but in a spacious tank with a good current, they're constantly moving about. Mine are very curious, and in fact one of them is watching me right now!>
And Neale, great website man. Really neat, you seem to be making a living writing about your hobbies. I'm envious.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Rocket gar... max. size    10/22/07 Hi, thank you for answering my first question about adding the frog. I was wondering what the maximum length of the rocket gar (Ctenolucius hujeta) is. I seem to be able to find only the long nose gar info. Thank you very much for your time and info. <Maximum size of Ctenolucius hujeta is a bit over 20 cm. But do bear in mind that these fish are not always reliably identified, so spending a bit of time at Fishbase ( http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=104&areacode= ) is a good idea so you can correctly ID your fish. Most species are in the 20-40 cm bracket, but the biggest species gets to over 80 cm. Ctenolucius hujeta is a characin, and far removed from the longnose gar Xenentodon cancila, which is a member of the Belonidae (the sister group of the halfbeaks). Cheers, Neale>

Re: Rocket gar 10/22/07 Hi, thank you very much for the web site about the rocket gar. I'm sorry to repeat any previous information that was said before, but I was wondering if the rocket gars are more of a schooling fish and would enjoy the company of another one rather than being alone. Thank you very much for your time and effort. <Yes, Ctenolucius hujeta is a schooling species. We have an article about these and other "mini killers" here at WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pikefishes.htm . There's also another article about this family of Characins here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/extcharcins1.htm . Truly, if you have a dig around, you'll find articles on just about everything aquatic here! Cheers, Neale>

Fish room 10/21/07 Hi, I have two Jack Dempsey's, two fire mouth cichlids, 1 Zig Zag eel, 1 red crayfish, 1 Chinese algae eater and 1 rocket gar. I have them all in a 75 gallon tank and they are doing wonderful. I was just wondering though, if it could be possible to place an African clawed frog in the tank also. I have had one before but I wasn't sure if adding another one would work. Thank you for your time and effort. <Greetings. I'm surprised the Chinese algae eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) and the JDs aren't causing havoc yet. Zig-zag Spiny eels (I assume Mastacembelus armatus or Mastacembelus favus) is large but peaceful, and the Rocket Gar (Ctenolucius hujeta) is very nervous and easily scared (and then damaged as it flings itself about the tank). So long term I'd be waiting to see casualties. But if things are working out, fine. But no, adding a frog of any kind to this tank would be foolish. If nothing else, the Chinese algae eater will probably try and suck their skins, and frogs have very, very delicate skins. Chinese algae eater become steadily more aggressive as they mature, and once about 20 cm or so, most specimens become completely hostile to everything in the tank. JDs are also very territorial, and anything slow and clumsy like a frog could be easily bullied. Bottom line, mixing fish and amphibians is generally not a good idea unless you have a specific combination that you know will work. So rather than trying to add random animals to your tank, why not just keep the fish you have *better*. Ctenolucius hujeta is a schooling fish: best kept in groups of 3-5. So if you're going to add more things, why not bump up their numbers, so they're happy instead of lonely? I'd honestly get ready to move out the Chinese algae eater. Cheers, Neale.> 

Freshwater Barracuda I've seen and heard of this freshwater barracuda. Scientific Name Ctenolucius hujeta. I want to know if I could put just 1 alone in 55 gallon aquarium with a sailfin pleco that is 8 inches. I heard they like lots of filtration and open water with some live plants. I also want to know if guppies would be OK to feed to it. They recommend using live fish such as feeders but my guppies are constantly breeding. I want to know if I can get some info about this species of fish. Also it looks more to be a gar than a barracuda. I greatly appreciate you guys for reading this message. Sorry for any misspellings. <This member of the Gar family grows to around 9 inches. A 55 is plenty of room for one. Up to 3 would be OK with heavy filtration and lots of water changes. It's the sailfin that will outgrow this tank. They grow slow, but can hit 18+ inches! As to feeding, guppies you breed yourself are fine food. As long as you know the tank is healthy, it's not a problem. But no store bought feeders! You WILL bring Ick, or worse, into your system. When you run short of guppies try small garden worms, insects, human seafood, as well as any flake or pellets he will take. Don>

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