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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 8:29 EDT

Needlenose fish

The Needlenose fish, Xenentodon cancila is the sole member of its genus and one of the relatively few Needlefish that spends its entire life in freshwater habitats, rarely traveling through brackish or marine waterways. It is known to feed exclusively on small crustaceans.

In the aquarium

Some species of needlefish inhabit brackish and freshwater environments, and one of the freshwater species, Xenentodon cancila from South East Asia, is occasionally kept as an aquarium fish. It is a relatively small species, no more than 11.81 to 15.75 in (30 to 40 cm) in length when fully grown, but is considered to be a rather delicate fish best suited to advanced aquarists.

It is very common for this species to be traded under a variety of common names, including Needlenose fish, freshwater Needlefish, Needle gar, Needlenose gar, freshwater gar fish, and numerous others. Despite its similar shape, it is not closely related to the freshwater gars of North America (family Lepisosteidae).

Breeding of this species is very rarely done. From record, the eggs are apparently poisonous. Babies are immediately independent and search for food within hours of hatching. While eating zooplankton at a young age; they commonly become cannibalistic. Sexing can be done multiple ways: Males usually have black rimmed fins, or they may get “breeding colors”- red or bright pink areas on beak or body. In some groups, one male will become dominant. They show brighter, and more numerous, blotches of color.

Needlenose fish