Family: Lepisosteidae
Genus: Lepisosteus, Atractosteus
Gar are some of the oldest and most primitive fish on the planet, these creatures have existed since the time of the tyrannosaurus rex. They are equipped with alligator like teeth, tough ganoid scales, and a streamlined predator’s body.
  1. Long snout with alligator-like teeth
  2. Long body with Ganoid scales (rough to the touch and diamond shaped)
  3. Dorsal fin located extremely far back on the body
  4. Abbreviated heterocercal caudal fin (spine like protrusion on top) that is usually rounded or pointed
spotted gar
Spotted Gar

Chad Thomas

Spotted Gar
(Lepisosteus oculatus)
This fish is not commonly sought after by fishermen, though it is sometimes eaten. The eggs of the spotted gar are toxic and should not be eaten. These ambush predators can reach a max length of around 42 inches and will hunt relatively small prey including gizzard shad, minnow, and crayfish.
Spots are present on all of body, and fins. Snout is medium length, barely measuring the distance from the eye to the edge of the opercle. The snout is shorter than that of the longnose, as well as broader. There is one row of teeth on upper and lower jaws.
longnose gar
Longnose Gar

Chad Thomas

Longnose Gar
(Lepisosteus osseus)
This mid sized gar can reach as much as 6 feet long, and will hunt slightly larger prey including mullets, sunfish, catfish, and shad. They begin their juvenile life in shallower waters and as they grow larger, they move to deeper waters. There is evidence to suggest that they may become more nocturnal later in life as well. Usually lingering about submerged or overhanging objects during the daytime, and often found actively fishing the open water at night.
Longnose gar fins will always have spots, though the body may not. Its snout is the longest of the gars, and is extremely narrow. Will reach well beyond the distance from the eye to the opercle. Possesses one row of teeth on upper and lower jaws.
alligator gar
Alligator Gar

Chad Thomas

Alligator Gar
(Atractosteus spatula)
Much like the reptile it is named for, this beast can reach massive sizes and is an apex predator. The alligator gar can reach over 9 feet long, and over 250 pounds. While they are a threatened, species they remain a popular target for bow fisherman. In some cases this is with a sustainable commercial harvest population. Attacks on humans have never been confirmed, despite this, alligator gars are intimidating and often a concern to human swimmers, considering their opportunistic feeding strategies.
The alligator has light spots on fins and tail-end of body. Its snout is the shortest of the gars, not measuring from the eye to the edge of the opercle. It also possesses two rows of teeth on upper jaw, one row on lower jaws.

Last updated: February 11, 2019

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