• Family: Lepisosteidae (Gars)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: Endangered
• Adult Size: Typically 20-30 inches long, can reach over 44 inches. Usually weighs 2-4 pounds, can reach 6 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Feed on small fish, primarily minnows or gizzard shad.
Spotted gar have many spots on their entire body and fins often making them look darker colored than other gar species. The mouth is filled with sharp needle like teeth and they have very hard diamond shaped scales. These scales do not overlap as they do on most fish but rather are interlocking and form an armor like outer skin. The snout of the spotted gar is intermediate in length and width compared to that of either the longnose or shortnose gar. Additionally they have many more spots than either of these other species. Spotted gar closely resemble the Florida gar which is not found in Ohio waters but is often sold at pet stores and has a shorter slightly broader snout.
Habitat and Habits
Spotted gar are found in clear waters with profuse amounts of aquatic vegetation in natural lakes, backwaters of larger rivers, and large permanent swamps or marshes. In Ohio this species has only ever been found in Lake Erie where it was once relatively common in marshes and bays. Today it has become a very rare species there and very few individuals have been found in recent years.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Spotted gar spawn over vegetation or flooded timber. Their rather large adhesive eggs hatch in about a week. Young spotted gar reach a length of 10 inches after their first year of growth but slow down dramatically there after. This species matures at around 3 years of age and 20 inches in length.