Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Lepisosteiformes (Gars)
Family: Lepisosteidae (Gars)

Genus/species: Lepisosteus oculatus


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The smallest of the four species of gar. Weight to 4.4 kg.(9.7 pounds), maximum recorded for wild fish is 44.8″ (112cm). Body long and cylindrical with elongated mouths. colored dark olive to brown above. L. oculatus has thick, ganoid (diamond-shaped) scales. All fins with dark spots; belly whitish; snout short.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Lake Erie and south Lake Michigan drainages; Mississippi River drainage from Illinois south to East Oklahoma, East Tennessee; Gulf Coast streams from West Florida to Central Texas. Found in clear pools with aquatic plants in streams, swamps and lakes; may enter brackish water on the Gulf Coast.

DIET IN THE WILD: Voracious predator with an elongated mouth with many teeth feeding on fishes and benthic crustaceans.

Spotted Gar IMG_1369

REPRODUCTION: Spawns between the months of May and July. Eggs are simply scattered among aquatic vegetation, and no parental care is exhibited. The roe (or egg mass) is highly toxic to humans, animals, and birds.

PREDATORS: Eaten by larger fish, alligators and herons.

LONGEVITY: Live to at least 18 years.  

CONSERVATION: Not evaluated by the IUCN. Not in need of special conservation efforts.


REMARKS: Have a specialized swim bladder which allows them to gulp air and live in the poorly oxygenated back waters.

They are primitive fish and date back to the Cretaceous period, some 65 to 100 million years ago. The ancestors of spotted gar swam with the dinosaurs.

Water Planet Feeding Cluster WP31

Swamp SW02


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