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Longnose Gar
Longnose Gar, Lepisosteus osseus

Gars are primitive pike-like fishes easily recognized by their long, narrow, sharply- toothed jaws and diamond-shaped non-overlapping scales. Gars have a lunglike (physostomous) gass bladder which permits air-breathing to supplement their gills, allowing them to live in low-oxygen conditions. There are 7 species of gars in North America including the giant (up to 10 feet in length) alligator gar. Only the longnose gar is native to Virginia waters. Gars are predators on a wide variety of fish, ambushing their prey with a sudden attack. The eggs are adhesive and poisonous. These fish sometimes are observed floating at the water surface.
Physical Description: 
�	Elongate body 
�	Beak-like snout 
�	Rhomboid scales 
�	Slender head
�	Jaws have many needle-like canines
�	Upper jaw slightly longer than lower jaw
�	Dorsal and anal fins rounded and far back on body
�	Tail fin rounded and a short heterocercal tail
�	Dark blotches all over body
�	Cream-colored lateral stripe
�	Median fins with large black spots

Similar species: 
�	Shortnose gar (L. platostomus)

Mean body size:
�	Adults are 670-1,150 mm total length.

�	Medium-sized streams to large rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries
�	Prefer weedy areas and in pools and backwaters

Distribution in VA:
�	Occurs in all major Atlantic slope drainages and the Clinch and Powell Rivers

Food Habits:  
�	Larvae eat larval fish, microcrustaceans, and larval insects
�	Adults eat mostly fish, crayfish, crabs, insects, and frogs

Reproductive Habits: 
�	Males mature at age 3 or 4, females at 6
�	Spawning occurs in spring and early summer
�	Ascend rivers and streams to spawn
�	Group spawning, one female with many males; gametes are released while the fish are in a head down position 
�	Eggs are adhesive and are deposited in shallow weedy areas 
�	Fecundity 6,200-77,150 eggs

Population Status, Economic, or Ecological Importance: 
�	Reputed to be a voracious predator 
�	Gar skin was used as an abrasive because it is tough and sharp
�	Scales have been popular as jewelry 


Jenkins, R.E and N.M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.
If you are seeking more information for the above species click on the VAFWIS logo (The Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service):


Continue Browsing Families.....
  1. Petromyzontidae, Lampreys
  2. Polyodontidae, Paddlefish
  3. Acipenseridae, Sturgeons
  4. Lepisosteidae, Gars
  5. Amiidae, Bowfins
  6. Anguillidae, Freshwater Eels
  7. Amblyopsidae, Cavefishes
  8. Ictaluridae, Catfish
  9. Percopsidae, Trout-Perches
  10. Salmonidae, Trouts
  11. Clupeidae, Herrings
  12. Esocidae, Pikes
  13. Aphredoderidae, Pirate Perches
  14. Umbridae, Mudminnows
  15. Fundulidae, Killifishes
  16. Poeciliidae, Livebearers
  17. Cyprinidae, Minnows
  18. Catostomidae, Suckers
  19. Gasterosteidae, Sticklebacks
  20. Atherinidae, Silversides
  21. Cottidae, Sculpins
  22. Sciaenidae, Drums
  23. Percidae, Perches
  24. Moronidae, Striped Basses
  25. Centrarchidae, Sunfishes

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