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Florida Gar cold hardiness


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#1 peshte

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 04:23 PM

Hi guys,

 

I ordered 10 "spotted gar" babies (5-6 cm) from a Czech company and I will (hopefully) get them in a few days. I really want them to be true spotted considering their greater hardiness to cold, since I would like to let them in a pond over winter or, at least, fish them out when ice cover starts and hibernate them at 3-7*C. Of course, not from the first year, but they will definitely will go out in next May and harden up during the outdoor season. 

I read somewhere about Florida gars sights in... Ontario- they were presented as aquarium releases and as one of the many dangers to the native spotted due to hybridisation. I cannot contest the expert's opinions, but... even hardier than what Florida usually throws on them, with its -15*C events from time to time happening in the north... could the FL gars take such harsh winters, as a regular spotted??

I ask that because It's very probable that my (hypothethical) fish to be FL gar instead of spotted. How hardy do you think FL gars could be? How long under ice cover? Bucharest climate is somehow similar to Cleveland, OH, just drier.  

 

Another question: if they would be true spotted, is there a great hardiness difference between, let's say, a western FL strain compared to an Illinois strain, that would say "not possible outdoor in your climate"? I speculate that the most probable initial source would be fish originating from the Gulf area, not inland.

Probably the fish are bred in Asia, as a big German company said about their Alligator Gars they once sold. No wonder if the same for the "oculatus" sold by the Czechs...

 

Please chime in with any information on hardiness, I'm totally new to gars and first hand, American experience is priceless for me!

 

Thank you!

 

 


Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#2 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 03:59 PM

Florida gar do fine outdoors in southern Ohio. As long as your pond is large enough and deep enough they should be fine. My pond is large (Not large, but not a garden pond) , 1/4 acre at most, and 8 feet deep. I keep an aerator running in a shallow 2.5 foot deep cove running during the winter for gas exchange. My situation may be different from yours, but I cannot imagine any North American gar having trouble with winter kill unless the pond is too shallow, and remains covered with ice for a very extended period. A livestock stock tank heater may be helpful if the pond is shallow and/or small.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#3 peshte

peshte
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  • Bucharest, Romania

Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:57 AM

Thank you, Matt!

It's exactly the type of answer I looked for: a report of outdoor keeping of the species in a similar climate!

Yes, they may perish in a shallow pond that remains frozen weeks and even months between thaws- at least partial thaws. I have 800l plastic mini-ponds of about 1,5 x1,5 x 0,5m- what do you think about them? They freeze quite hard, I would say 20cm out of 50.

 

A kind of protection like a foil tunnel/greenhous would reduce the thickness and duration of the ice in these ponds... I am aware that these pittyful ponds are probably death traps for large fish in the winter, but dwarfs like your Fundulus could survive- Macropodus ocellatus and Aphanius species survive even in 30cm ice/5cm water (!). Your pond is a great one- indeed, not the typical garden pond, not a nursery, but quite respectable size and depth. Nothing less than a natural habitat, where even the most sensitive species can survive extended ice cover.  

 

Fish arrived today, currently acclimating. If they are indeed Spotted, could that imply a greater hardiness in quasi-anaerobic conditions of a small pond over winter?


Edited by peshte, 13 September 2017 - 10:04 AM.

Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#4 Matt DeLaVega

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:07 PM

I would like to get you in touch with a friend. He or one of his gar addict friends could probably address this better. Let me see if I can get some answers.

 

This is my feeling. I have killed quite a few fish from accidental mismanagement. Never a gar. Hard to find a hardier fish. However my concern is that since they are obligate air breathers, that a smallish pond could be problematic. Now obviously the need to surface and gulp air diminishes or goes away entirely during cold weather. They need less O2 and cold water holds more O2, but at what point will it drop too low? I am not sure.

 

 Let me see if I can get some help.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#5 Brooklamprey

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:01 PM

More likely than not your fish will be L.platyrhincus. If you have a photo of them I could maybe ID. I would personally not try to keep Florida's in water that would Ice over. They can survive cold water. I have kept the before for an extended time at 8C. I'm not sure however they could survive long much lower than that or with prolonged ice over conditions. In a large deep pond like Matt's they would have a better chance than in a shallow small pond. Key to attempting this would be to very well condition the fish during the growing season. This is even necessary to keep them in non-ice conditions below 10C. 

 

L.oculatus are a very different matter and may survive at lower temps and ice over conditions. Collection locality though can greatly affect at what level. Same terms and conditions apply to keeping all gar species below 10C. They must be very well conditioned during the growing season.

 

I'm writing this rather quick so please feel free to follow up with additional questions or ones I may have missed. I'll have more time later to go into very specific details.


Richard Kik IV


#6 Dustin

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:20 AM

Welcome back Richard.


Dustin Smith
At the convergence of the Broad, Saluda and Congaree
Lexington, SC


#7 peshte

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:16 PM

Thank you both guys for valuable replies!

 

 

@Matt: yes, I have the same question: how low the oxygen can go under ice cover... for a Macropodus, although a labyrinth fish, surfacing is not needed during cold season, nor much dissolved oxygen; though, these are small fish, and maybe not the best for an analogy when we deal with massive fish.
I won't risk my precious, hard to find gars, anyway, but I am thinking at some friend's larger, real ponds- usually with Koi and other carp/cyprinids.

If I could breed these monsters and having lots of babies to test them :) !! The Japanese guy managed to do it in similar, less spacious conditions, as I have here... 

 

@Richard: yes, I am greedy for any info! The only limit would be your time to write here :) ... 

Even if a large body of water vs a small pond let no room for comparison, I wonder about a Lake Erie winter- it's still amazing, when the Canadians speak about the "invasive Florida Gar" up there...  Yes, when ice cover appears in very limited volume, even the hardiest fish can fail. I lost even Perccottus glennii (!!) in 90l burried mortar tubs, while Turkish and Iranian Aphanius survived in horrible anaerob conditions! 

 

I will try to get some pictures tomorrow. They are larger than listed, about 10cm. I gave them small Endlers- some ate even while in the drop-acclimatation bucket! A single one seems still thin, but I am confident in their survival. I am fascinated by them! 


Edited by peshte, 14 September 2017 - 12:17 PM.

Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#8 Brooklamprey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:00 PM

Gars are best referred to as facultative air breathing fish. That is they are not fully dependent on air breathing. That is temperature has a great deal to do with the necessity of atmospheric oxygen in combination with oxygen from the gills. At higher temps (18c +) and with it increased metabolism Gars do something interesting. They begin to divert blood flow from the gills into the modified swim bladder. This is where they become partly dependent on atmospheric oxygen absorbed through the air bladder. At lower temps less blood flow goes to the air bladder and increases in the gills. Thus at lower temps they are less reliant on atmospheric oxygen. Gars can interestingly actually drown in warm water that is oxygen saturated. What happens is less blood flow is going to the gills but the fish senses increased oxygen thus less need to surface for air. However the fish is not actually receiving the required amount. The fish will essentially drown from lack of oxygen. Oxygen sensing in the gills says all is fine, but in reality lack of blood flow to the gills due to blood diverted to the air bladder tricks the fish.

 

I really would not say there is an invasive population of Florida gar in Lake Erie.  Only a few have ever been noted and there is no evidence they are thriving or even surviving. Spotted gars do exist in Lake Erie in some isolated localities and there may be some confusion, by lay individuals not familiar with gars, with Florida gars.


Richard Kik IV


#9 peshte

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:20 PM

Great explanation! In Labyrinth fish, there is about a new organ, while in these primitive beasts, it's just a slightly modified one, but with such implications!

Good to know- I have about 27-28*C and wanted to place a small powerhead with air-bubbling option. Probably not preparing for a problem, but good to know- so I let them as they are, with an airsponge filter that proved to support a Swordtail biomass about 2-3x of the 10 little gars. I can see them breathing a bit too profound, with greater jaw move amplitude, so I think it's best to let them to acclimate to my conditions for a while- stability is the best for them right now. 

 

 

"there is no evidence they are thriving or even surviving."- That's the key, indeed- how reliable are these reports on "Florida Gars" up north...


Edited by peshte, 14 September 2017 - 04:20 PM.

Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#10 Brooklamprey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:09 PM

I'm over here in Detroit and so work with agencies (State and Federal) on both sides of the border in Lake Erie as well as the Detroit river corridor. Confirmed Florida's are very legitimate but really that has been just two that have been verified. A lot of others are anecdotal or clearly misidentified Spotteds. Many really are unaware of the Native presence of Spotted gars in Lake Erie so when they pop up they can cause some confusion. Like wise Longnosed gars can be heavily spotted and cause confusion again with proper ID..Often times myself as well as a few close colleagues are copied in on requests for ID in the area. We scour the fishing forums also just to see if something pops up where it may be unexpected. A few new Spotted gar locations have been identified like this. Namely in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Again though aside from a couple Florida's we have no reason to think they have established or really where anything but random pet releases.  


Richard Kik IV


#11 Brooklamprey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:11 PM

Welcome back Richard.

Thanks Dustin, Been lurking around off and on..


Richard Kik IV


#12 peshte

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  • Bucharest, Romania

Posted 15 September 2017 - 09:12 AM

My beasts are here- sorry for the pictures, phone, dirty tank and pittyful skills aren't the best combination...

 

https://photos.googl...Bp5hdcbE0H4jKt7

 

What do you think?

The spots on caudal fin are quite irregular shaped. Is it relevant?


Edited by peshte, 15 September 2017 - 09:30 AM.

Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#13 Brooklamprey

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 04:00 PM

My beasts are here- sorry for the pictures, phone, dirty tank and pittyful skills aren't the best combination...

 

https://photos.googl...Bp5hdcbE0H4jKt7

 

What do you think?

The spots on caudal fin are quite irregular shaped. Is it relevant?

Telling me the link is broken..


Richard Kik IV


#14 peshte

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  • Bucharest, Romania

Posted 16 September 2017 - 02:52 PM

Link for sharing- I checked it this time, it works:

 

https://photos.app.g...1kfsZxX9FVpfpn1


Edited by peshte, 16 September 2017 - 02:56 PM.

Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict


#15 Brooklamprey

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 07:15 PM

Link for sharing- I checked it this time, it works:

 

https://photos.app.g...1kfsZxX9FVpfpn1

Can't tell with 100% certainty but those very much have the common traits and characteristics of Aquacultured Florida gars. A bit more size and could ID with more certainty.


Richard Kik IV


#16 peshte

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  • Bucharest, Romania

Posted 20 September 2017 - 02:55 PM

We will work on that :)... Thank you!


Fabian in Bucharest, Romania- hardy exotics addict




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