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Maximum size : 10 feet cm

Platinum Alligator Gar - Atractosteus spatula : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Platinum Alligator Gar is a unique freshwater fish species, suitable only for large aquariums equipped with powerful filtration systems to accommodate their waste production. Despite their need for ample tank space, these fish are highly adaptable to various water parameters, making them an ideal addition to an aquarium. Platinum Alligator Gars have gained a reputation as "living fossils" due to their prehistoric appearance, retaining many of the characteristics of their earliest ancestors, such as the ability to breathe both water and atmospheric air. Leaving a few inches of space at the top of the tank is essential to facilitate this unique breathing behaviour. These fish are not territorial or aggressive in an aquarium setting, and when grown with other fish species, they do not perceive them as food. Instead, platinum Alligator Gars are social creatures and prefer to live in closely-knit schools of 3 to 6 individuals, displaying an intriguing social dynamic. The Platinum variety of Alligator Gar was selectively bred in Asia for aquarium enthusiasts. Despite its rarity and high cost, the fish remains in high demand in Japan and China, driving up the price. Platinum Alligator Gars possess long, slender, torpedo-shaped bodies, small eyes, and a heterocercal tail. Their swim bladder functions as a lung, enabling them to breathe air. Instead, they lack conventional scales and have hardened, diamond-shaped ganoid scales with white enamel-like jagged edges. These fish feature a creamy-white body with green tinges on the top, a woven patterned crown of the head, and gill covers with tails that may bear black blotches. In addition, mature Alligator Gars exhibit a dual row of large, sharp teeth in their upper jaws, an adaptation used to impale and hold prey during feeding. Overall, the Platinum Alligator Gar is a captivating and intriguing species that continues to fascinate aquarium enthusiasts worldwide.

Platinum Alligator Gar Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Gars based on visual inspection alone presents a considerable challenge. Nevertheless, recent studies have proposed that measuring specific anatomical features such as head length, snout length, and anal fin base length may facilitate sex determination. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that females of this species generally exhibit a greater growth rate than males and attain a more significant size overall. Additionally, males are reported to reach sexual maturity within half the time frame of their female counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAtractosteus spatula
Year Described1803
Other NamesNone
Max Size10 feet cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asTrios
Lifespanup to 50 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 8.0
GH3 - 5
TDS90 - 450
59 - 89
15 - 31.7

Natural Habitat

The Platinum Alligator Gar, a remarkable fish species, boasts a widespread distribution throughout several regions of the United States, including the Ohio River in southwestern Ohio, the Mississippi River extending southward to the Gulf of Mexico, and several drainages situated in the southeastern coastal United States. These fish also reside in the states of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Platinum Alligator Gars prefer to inhabit an array of aquatic environments, such as slow-moving rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, marshes, streams, and swamps and are typically confined to freshwater and brackish waters, seldom venturing into marine environments. Yet, remarkably, these fish have been observed seeking refuge in caves and crevices, a behaviour that adds to their intriguing nature. In summary, the Platinum Alligator Gar 's vast distribution and diverse habitat preferences make them an enthralling and captivating species to study and appreciate.


The successful breeding of the Platinum Alligator Gar remains a rare occurrence, and comprehensive information on the breeding process is limited. The breeding conditions must be highly specific to achieve successful spawning. In their natural habitat, Gars require a flood event to stimulate spawning, after which they migrate to shallow, reedy areas to release their gametes. During spawning, a female Platinum Alligator Gar can produce several hundred thousand red eggs, which are potentially harmful to humans and birds if ingested. Attainment of sexual maturity in Platinum Alligator Gars occurs around ten years of age, after which spawning usually occurs in flooded vegetative areas with shallow waters. Spawning commences as males encircle gravid females and begin engaging in a series of physical movements, such as twisting, bumping, and sliding over the female 's dorsal surface. This activity prompts the release of eggs, which are fertilized by the males ' milt clouds as they are released into the water column. The adhesive eggs subsequently attach to submerged vegetation, undergoing embryonic development. The eggs typically hatch within a few days, yielding larval fish that remain attached to the vegetation for about ten days before detaching and becoming active young fry.

Diet & feeding

Within their natural habitat, Platinum Alligator Gars are nocturnal predators, displaying opportunistic feeding behaviours with a primarily carnivorous diet. Notably, they demonstrate a capability to ambush and prey upon animals such as turtles, waterfowl, and small mammals that float atop the water 's surface. Their method of attack involves floating stealthily below the water 's surface, lying in wait for unsuspecting prey to approach. Upon identifying a potential target, the Platinum Alligator Gar launches forward, employing a sweeping motion to seize its prey, puncturing it with their double rows of sharp, formidable teeth. This predatory behaviour showcases the species ' exceptional hunting skills and physiological adaptations, underscoring their ecological significance. Platinum Alligator Gars will accept live and frozen foods such as prawns, shrimps, fish, and suchlike in the home aquarium. In addition, some individuals may take pellets. It would be best not to feed Gars with the meat of mammals such as chicken or beef like some other species. This is because the organic compounds in these meats cannot be adequately metabolised by fish, causing excess fat displacement and even organ degeneration over a long period.

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