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What is a Louvar?

By J.L. Drede
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The louvar is a fish that inhabits the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indians oceans. It is most often found in the Gulf of Mexico, the coasts of Norway, along the Mediterranean, in the Western Pacific near Japan and off the coast of Cape Point in South Africa. The louvar is a perciform fish, meaning it is perch-like and ray-finned.

It is closely related to the surgeonfish, but much larger. While the surgeonfish usually only reaches a maximum length of 11 inches (30 cm), the louvar can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length and can weigh up to 330 pounds (150 kg). Unlike the surgeonfish it is not a common aquarium fish, most likely due to its large size. It is the only species of the Luvaridae family of fish.

The fish stands out for several reasons in addition to its large size. Its most notable feature is its large bulging forehead that forces its eyes and mouth very low in its profile. Its coloring is also unusual when compared to other fish of its size. The body itself is usually silver, but it often some slight orange or pink coloration that extend to its bright fins and tail.

Not much much is known about the louvar. It is rarely seen by humans and when it is it is usually already dead, having washed up on shore. When it is spotted it is usually found both in deep and shallow waters. It is a solitary fish, only seen with other louvar during the late spring months, when it is known to spawn. The diet of the fish is primarily jellyfish and similar animals. Despite its massive size and fearsome appearance, the fish is entirely harmless to humans.

Although the louvar is rarely seen, fishermen have been known to catch the fish, usually when casting for similarly-sized fish like marlin. It is also occasionally seen for sale in fish markets, but not often. Fish markets that get the fish with any regularity will usually advertise the fact since it is considered a delicacy. Cuts of the fish are white, thick, and according to some who have eaten it, very juicy. Its taste has been compared to halibut and swordfish. Since it is an exceptionally rare fish it is not cheap; an order of louvar at a restaurants can be one of the most expensive dishes on the menu.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Louvar?

A Louvar, scientifically known as Luvarus imperialis, is a rare and unique species of fish that inhabits the open ocean. It is recognized for its bright pink to silver coloration and its large, disc-shaped body. The Louvar is a solitary creature, often found in tropical and temperate waters, and is known for its diet rich in jellyfish and other gelatinous zooplankton.

How big can a Louvar grow?

Louvars are notable for their size, with adults typically reaching lengths of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) and weighing as much as 140 kilograms (308 pounds). Their impressive size is complemented by their distinctive, high forehead and small mouth, which contribute to their unique appearance among oceanic fish species.

Where can you find Louvars?

Louvars are pelagic fish, meaning they are found in the open ocean rather than near the coast. They are most commonly spotted in both tropical and temperate waters, with sightings reported in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. However, due to their rarity and elusive nature, encountering a Louvar is considered a special event by marine biologists and enthusiasts alike.

What do Louvars eat?

The diet of a Louvar primarily consists of gelatinous zooplankton, such as jellyfish, salps, and ctenophores. This specialized diet is unusual among large pelagic fish and is one of the factors that make the Louvar an interesting subject of study for marine scientists. Their feeding habits also play a role in controlling jellyfish populations in the ocean.

Are Louvars endangered?

While not currently listed as endangered, Louvars are considered rare, and there is limited information on their population status. Due to their infrequent encounters and the lack of targeted fisheries, they are not thought to be at immediate risk. However, as with many marine species, they could be affected by broader oceanic issues such as pollution and climate change.

What makes the Louvar unique among fish?

The Louvar is unique for several reasons: its distinct body shape, vibrant coloration, and unusual diet set it apart from other fish. Additionally, it has a specialized swim bladder that allows it to regulate its buoyancy, enabling it to inhabit varying depths without expending much energy. This adaptation is particularly fascinating to ichthyologists studying fish physiology and behavior.

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