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  Family Lepisosteidae  

Family Lepisosteidae--Gar Family

Gars are covered with diamond-shaped scales that do not overlap. They have long, strongly toothed jaws developed into a beak. The body is cylindrical, and the caudal fin is rounded. Gars are often found in sluggish waters of rivers and lakes. The gas bladder is connected to the throat and does function in breathing to supplement the gills, allowing these fishes to live in oxygen poor waters. Gars are predators of other fishes.

alligator gar--Atractosteus spatulai [extirpated]
spotted gar--Lepisosteus oculatus

longnose gar -- Lepiosteus osseus
The longnose gar has a very narrow beak which is more than twice as long as the rest of the head. The large teeth in the upper jaw are in a single row on each side. Pools, backwaters and oxbows of medium to large rivers and lakes are the habitat for the longnose gar. This animal commonly reaches a length of three feet and may reach six feet. It feeds almost entirely on fishes. Spawning occurs from early May to mid-June. Females do not mature until they are six years old.

shortnose gar -- Lepiosteus platostomus
This gar has a moderately short, broad beak. The large teeth in the upper jaw are in a single row on each side. The top of the head, pectoral and pelvic fins are all without spots. This is one of the smaller gars, reaching only about 33 inches in length. It is found in creeks, rivers, swamps and lakes. Crayfish, insects and fishes make up its diet. Spawning occurs from mid-May into July. The eggs are scattered over vegetation and other submerged objects in shallow water. Maturity is reached when 15 or more inches long, around three years old.

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