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Fish

Gars

  

Family: Lepisosteidae (gars)

The 3 gar species of the Great Lakes region are distinguished by the shape of the jaws or snout and the pattern of scales.

Distribution and Habitat

N = Native, I = Introduced (exotic), X = Extinct, P = Extirpated

Image Scientific Name Common Name Lake Superior Lake Michigan

Lake Huron

Lake Erie Lake Ontario Habitat
spotted gar Lepisosteus oculatus spotted gar   N   N   river/littoral
longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus longnose gar N N N N N river/littoral
shortnose gar Lepisosteus platostomus shortnose gar   N*       river/littoral

Table modified from "The Life of the Lakes: A Guide to the Great Lakes Fishery" MI Sea Grant Extension, Michigan State University.
* Listed in this publication and in their resources (circa 1980's) as native to the region. Most recent literature refers to this species as native to the Mississippi River drainage and invading Lake Michigan in the 1960's.

Species Profiles

Lepisosteus oculatus - spotted gar

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Scientific Profile - UofM Museum of Zoology Adult size: 80cm

gar embryolarvaegar young of yeargarjuvenile gargar yearling

garGargargar tanks

Solomon David with gargargar closeupgar teeth

Solomon David, GLERL

spotted gar drawingspotted gar photo

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.US Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Lepisosteus osseus - longnose gar

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Profile - Fishes of Minnesota
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Profile - Fishes of New York State
Bird icon indicates a link to a non-GLERL NOAA siteScientific Profile - Fishes of Wisconsin
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Scientific Profile - UofM Museum of Zoology
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.MI DNR - ID of Snakehead versus common native species

Except for the first few weeks of their existence (when they eat copepods and waterfleas), longnose gar are definitely piscivores (fish-eaters). Gar feed at the surface on smaller fish, insect larvae, and crayfish. Adult size: 130cm. The Minnesota state record is 7.6 kg (16 lbs 12 oz). Female longnose gars grow faster, reach larger sizes, and have a longer life span than the males. Longnose gar can live for a long time. Twenty years is not unusual, and the record is 32! Female longnose gar can be mature at 4 years old, males at 3.

longnose gar photoLarval longnose gar photo

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Fishes of Minnesota

 

longnose gar drawing

GLERL Photo Gallery

Other drawings/artwork:
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.US Fish and Wildlife Service
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Fishes of New York State

Other Photos:
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.The Virtual Aquarium at Virginia Tech

 

Lepisosteus platostomus - shortnose gar

Bird icon indicates a link to a non-GLERL NOAA siteScientific Profile - Fishes of Wisconsin
Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Scientific Profile - UofM Museum of Zoology
GLANSIS

Feed at the surface on smaller fish, insect larvae, and crayfish. Adult size 75cm.

shortnose gar drawing

Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.US Fish and Wildlife Service

Shortnose gar photoYoung-of-the-year shortnose gar

<Globe icon indicates link to a non-NOAA site.Fishes of Minnesota

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