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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.

Habitat:
	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 

References:       

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):

VAFWIS

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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