Tag Archive: Gars

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

Genus/species: Atractosteus spatula

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Alligator-like. Large size and broad, short, wide, blunt snout and a heterocercal tail. Color is dark olivaceous brown above and white to yellowish beneath with dark brown blotches on all fins. Body is covered with armor-like ganoid scales consisting of diamond-shaped, interlocking, and extremely hard bony plates covered with layers of dentine and enamel. Head protected by bony plates. Alligator gars have two rows of teeth, a longer one on the palate, and an outer row in the jaw, enabling them to pierce and hold prey. A. spatula is the largest exclusively freshwater fish found in North America.

Alligator gar are the largest gar species. with a length up to than 3 m (9.8 ft), weight to 137 kg (300 pounds).

Alligator Gar 8362889461_f8706ce1f4_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Alligator Gar are found in lakes, rivers, and bayous from the Mississippi to the Gulf coast in fresh and brackish water.


DIET IN THE WILD: They are opportunistic carnivores and sit-and-wait predators. They appear to be sluggish, but can ambush prey with short bursts of speed feeding on almost anything, including fish, ducks, turtles, small mammals, and carrion

REPRODUCTION: Females reach sexual maturity at 11 years. Eggs laid on aquatic vegetation, to which they adhere. Young cling to the stems with an adhesive disc on their head until yolk sac is absorbed, and then swim actively. Juveniles feed on plankton, invertebrates, amphibians, and fish before transitioning to fish almost exclusively.
The eggs of alligator gar are bright red and poisonous to humans if ingested.

MORTALITY: Females generally larger and longer lived than males. Some may live to 50 years or more in the wild, 80 years in captivity. The Academies oldest gars are in their 60s.

CONSERVATION STATUS: Not on IUCN Red List. Pollution and degradation of habitat threaten this species.

alligator garIMG_2863


REMARKS: Gars also have a highly vascularized swim bladder directly connected to its throat that enables them to breathe in air, an adaptation to life in water with low oxygen levels. Native Americans used armor-like ganoid scales as arrowheads and jewelry. Early American farmers used the scales on the blades of their plows.

The fossil record traces their existence to the Early Cretaceous over a hundred million years ago.there is no documentation of attacks on man by alligator gars.

There is no documentation of an attack on man by alligator gars.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Swamp 2018

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608608528651/with/8362889461/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-103

fishbase. www.fishbase.se/summary/Atractosteus-spatula.html

ADW. animaldiversity.org/accounts/Atractosteus_spatula/



6-7-13, 1-19-17, 10-9-18

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

Genus/species: Lepisosteus osseus

Longnose Gar 3079559158_8c3e7931ff_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Very long, cylindrical with dorsal and anal fins set well back on the body, and a large rounded tail fin. Snout more than twice as long as head. Olivaceous brown above and white below. Dark spots on median fins and on body. Ganoid scales. Two to three feet in length not uncommon.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Saint Lawrence River drainage; along Atlantic coast from south of New Jersey to Florida; Southern Great Lakes and Mississippi River system, south to Rio Grande in Texas.
Found in backwaters, large creeks, lakes; may enter brackish water.
They can live in very warm water with little oxygen.

DIET IN THE WILD: Voracious predators. Piscivorous; also feeds on crabs and other crustaceans. Catches prey by swinging jaws back and forth, impaling fish on its sharp teeth.

REPRODUCTION: Sexual maturity for males is reached between 3 and 4 years of age while females at 6 years of age. Spawn in spring depositing eggs in weedy bays on vegetation. Young have a special disk on its head to attach to vegetation, much like pike fry.

PREDATORS: Rarely eaten by fish.

Longnose Gar 8703062067_f828b535c6_b

CONSERVATION: Not federally listed as endangered but but some states list it as threatened because of overfishing and habitat loss.

REMARKS: The roe is poisonous.

Gar can also take in oxygen by swimming to the surface and gulping air into their swim bladders allowing them to live in oxygen poor water..

Family dates back 245 million years

Feeding Cluster WP31

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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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