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Characins / Ctenoluciidae / South American Freshwater Needlefish

South American Freshwater Needlefish, Silver Gar, Hujeta Pike Characin, Slant-nosed Gar
Ctenolucius hujeta hujeta

Synonyms: Ctenolucius hujeta, Luciocharax insculptus, Xiphostoma hujeta
Physical description: An elongated, slender fish with a long snout and mouth. The body color is silver while the fins are transparent. The tail is forked and has a black spot at its base. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower. This fish may have golden to blue iridescence depending on lighting.
Size/Length: To 28" (70 cm), not usually larger than 10" (25 cm) in captivity.
Similar species: There are three sub-species of C. hujeta: C. hujeta beani, C. hujeta insculptus, and C. hujeta hujeta.
Habitat: South and Central AmericA: Rio Magdalena, Columbia; also found in Panama and Venezuela. In nature, this fish can be found in large groups hunting prey.
S: middle, top
Aquarium: 60" (152 cm) or 90 gallons (342 L). The tank should have a tight-fitting lid and a cover of floating plants. Leave large, open swimming areas and use a filter that provides a moderate to strong current. The tank should be well-planted along the sides and in the back. Provide some driftwood structures for hiding.
Water chemistry: pH 6.5-7.5 (7.0), 5-20 dH (10), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
Social behavior: A predator that can only be combined with other large fish of the lower swimming levels. Keep in pairs or in groups.
Suggested companions: Piranhas (and allies), Anostomus, Central and South America cichlids, Pimelodids, Loricarids.
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, large insects; pellets; large flakes
SEX: Females are slightly larger than males, and during the spawning season, they have a fuller stomach. The edge of the male's anal fin appears frayed, while the female's fin is straight.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a temperature between 77-82°F (25-28°C). After an active courtship, the eggs are sprayed out above water surface, sinking and adhering to plants and rocks. Spawning takes up to three hours and a large female can produce 3000 eggs, although 1000-1500 eggs is a more reasonable amount. Eggs hatch in 1-2 days and fry are free-swimming after 4-5 days. Start feeding small live foods such as Brine Shrimp nauplii, Cyclops nauplii, and roftiers. After a week, the young can be fed larger foods, such as the fry of livebearers. The young must be fed several times a day to prevent cannibalism. Frequent partial water changes are necessary for the health of the young.
Breeding potential: 8. Breeding C. hujeta hujeta is a challenge.
Remarks: Hunts at night and during the day. This fish is skittish and timid. If frightened it may swim frantically around the tank, crashing into the glass and throwing itself against the lid, causing injury and even death. Avoid making sudden movement when performing water changes and loud noises. Sensitive to the addition of new water during water changes.
Difficulty of care: 6. This large, nervous fish is an active predator which must be fed live foods. Under the right conditions this fish is hardy.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com