Fun Cuban Gar Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 03, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 19, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Cuban gar facts can tell us about their diet and more.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus) is a fish present in many freshwater rivers and lakes in Cuba and in the Isla de la Juventud. This interesting fish has a cylindrical body and a diet that involves feeding on other small fish and crustaceans. However, the most interesting thing about the Cuban gar has to be the system it uses to breathe in air. This fish has a swim bladder along with the usual gill system. This organ helps the fish to breathe even in regions where oxygen levels are low.

Like other gars, the Cuban gar is also a popular research subject. This fish belongs to the genus Atractosteus, and its common name is 'manjuari' in Cuba. Unfortunately, in the IUCN Red List, the Cuban gar has been given the status of Critically Endangered. Along with habitat loss, one of the biggest problems has been overfishing. As a result of this, fewer adults remain alive to be able to increase the population size.

Are you interested to know more about this fish? Keep reading to learn more great Cuban gar facts. Also, check out some articles on the Arctic char and the American shad.

Cuban Gar Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cuban gar?

The Cuban gar is a prehistoric-looking species found near the island of Cuba. Its common name in Cuba is 'manjuari' and it's an edible fish.

What class of animal does a Cuban gar belong to?

The Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus) belongs to the class Actinopterygii and to the genus Atractosteus. It also belongs to the gar fish family.

How many Cuban gars are there in the world?

Even though this is a Critically Endangered species, we are yet to know the exact population of this species. However, scientific researchers have looked at the gene pool and stated that it's limited, so the population of the fish is likely to be low.

Where does a Cuban gar live?

You can find the Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus) living in the western part of Cuba and in Isla de la Juventud. This gar cannot be found in America.

What is a Cuban gar's habitat?

The typical Cuban gar habitat is usually in tropical freshwater and brackish water bodies and pools. This includes lakes, rivers, and inland waterways fed by the ocean. During the breeding season, these fish swim towards the river floodplains to deposit their eggs.

Who do Cuban gars live with?

Cuban gars (Atractosteus tristoechus) prefer to live alone, but these fish might also be found in groups, especially where there is an abundance of food. Only during spawning can you see rivers full of groups of about 20 gars, and at times these groups also break into smaller ones.

How long does a Cuban gar live?

Usually, the lifespan range of gars is taken to be anywhere between 16-18 years. However, we don't have a particular age range for the Cuban gar yet.

How do they reproduce?

Not a whole lot is known about the spawning practices of this species. However, it is known that these fish do swim towards river floodplains to spawn. One of the most interesting things about this fish has to be its development from an egg. After the spawning is over, the eggs are left to hatch in the tropical water. After hatching, the larva goes through three stages: attached, transitional, and free-swimming. These phases are important for the development of this fish to have all the important organs.

What is their conservation status?

According to their latest classification in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this fish has been placed under the Critically Endangered category of the Red List.

Cuban Gar Fun Facts

What do Cuban gars look like?

When it comes to Cuban gars (Atractosteus tristoechus), they lack any pattern on the body, unlike the spotted gar. Other than that, like most other gars, it has a cylindrical body and an elongated snout. The shape of this fish is also described as 'torpedo-shaped'. Also, the scales on this fish are different from other fish scales and this fish is usually olive or brown in color. An interesting thing about this fish is the oil layer on its outer body. This works as a source of protection for this fish and, along with helping it to swim better, it also deters predators from attacking it.

What Do Cuban Gars Look Like

*Please note that this image is of an alligator gar, not a Cuban gar. If you have an image of a Cuban gar, please let us know at

How cute are they?

We wouldn't really call this species as cute. However, its cylindrical body is impressive as it is a special Cuban gar adaptation that the fish has developed in order to survive.

How do they communicate?

Even though there has not been much research into the exact communication methods followed by this fish species, we can assume that, like other fish, gesture and motion plays an important role in getting around lakes and rivers.

How big is a Cuban gar?

On average, the body size range of this fish is around 3.3-6.6 ft (1-2 m). As juveniles, Cuban gar fish seem to grow fast in length. In comparison, the shortnose gar is only able to achieve a body length of 2 ft (60.96 cm), making it relatively smaller. The smallest fish in the gar family is the shortnose gar. Also, the Florida gar can have a size over 3 ft (0.9 m) making it closer to the average Cuban gar size.

How fast can a Cuban gar swim?

Another mystery about the Cuban gar fish is its swimming speed as there is no data to back up the speed of these gars.

How much does a Cuban gar weigh?

We are yet to discover data regarding the average weight of Cuban gars. Its close relative, the alligator gar, can easily weigh up to 300 lb (136 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby Cuban Gar?

A baby Cuban gar is called larvae or fry.

What do they eat?

As a predator fish, this species eats anything and everything that it can get inside its mouth. Their teeth are able to grind through hard shells so, usually, these ambush predators feed and prey on crustaceans and other small fishes.

Are they dangerous?

Even though this prehistoric fish species may look scary, the Cuban gar fish is actually quite peaceful and timid. It isn't very harmful to a human being, even though it may end up nibbling on your fingers. Also, gars don't have a habit of attacking mammals, including humans. However, we should be wary about eating Cuban gar eggs as they are considered toxic. Despite this, eating the flesh of the fish isn't toxic and it has been a delicacy around Cuba. Even the closest relatives of these gars, the alligator gar and the longnose gar, do not attack or kill humans.

Would they make a good pet?

As a Critically Endangered gar species with a long history, you cannot keep this gar as a pet. However, if you are keen on seeing this species, then visiting a Cuban gar aquarium might give you some knowledge about this species. It's never a good idea to look for a Cuban gar for sale though.

Did you know...

When a longnose gar and an alligator gar decide to mate, this gives rise to a hybrid gar. These fishes are not very cute, but they tend to be quite large.

What's the difference between a Cuban gar and an Alligator gar?

People often confuse the Cuban gar and the alligator gar because of their similar looks. However, one of the main differences between the two fish species is that alligator gars tend to be bigger. Another important point to note is that these two fishes are found in different places. The alligator gar is found in certain parts of the United States, while the Cuban gar is from Cuba, especially from its western parts. Moreover, by the name of both the species, you might be able to understand another basic difference. The alligator gar is especially known for its prominent broad snout that gives it the honor of being called an alligator. Compared to this, the Cuban gar species has a slimmer snout.

Do gars have lungs?

As one of the many fish species, the Cuban gar lacks lungs for breathing. Instead, the species relies on its vascularized swim bladders that mimic the work of the lungs to breathe air.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our African lungfish facts and immortal jellyfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable alligator gar coloring pages.

Cuban Gar Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Freshwater fishes

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

freshwater and brackish water, including rivers and lakes

Where Do They Live?

cuba, isla de la juventud

How Long Were They?

3.3-6.6 ft (1-2 m)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Atractosteus tristoechus

What Do They Look Like?


Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, habitat loss, largemouth bass

What is their Conservation Status?

Critically Endangered
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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