Fun Spotted Gar Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Spotted gar facts talk about their behavior in the wild.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

If you are looking for an interesting carnivorous fish that looks intriguing too, then the spotted gar is the right choice for you. This fish is native to the United States of America and southern Canada.

Known to be prolific eaters, they are most active during the night when they feed on shrimps, other smaller fish, and crustaceans. This fish is at the top of their food chain.

The only threat of predation that they face is from bigger carnivorous fish that eat them. Known for their long snout, the thing that makes these gars stand out are the dark spots on their bodies. These spots make their identification much easier.

However, they may be sometimes confused with the Florida gar. These fish are not really suitable for aquarium life and if kept in tanks, they should be taken care of properly.

So, read on for more info about this fish! For more facts about other marine creatures, take a look at the longnose gar and the catfish.

Spotted Gar Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spotted gar?

The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is a freshwater fish that is endemic to the continent of North America. This is also a popular choice as a game fish.

What class of animal does a spotted gar belong to?

The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is a species of fish that belongs to the class of Actinopterygii. This is a class of ray-finned bony fishes.

How many spotted gars are there in the world?

The total number of spotted gars in the world is not known. Although overall their numbers are not in a decline, there are some places where habitat destruction has led to a dip in the population of this fish species.

There are some reports that say that spotted gars are more than 100,000 in the lakes and rivers and basins of the United States of America and Canada.

Where does a spotted gar live?

This fish species is known to inhabit the temperate aquatic waters of North America. They are found in rivers and lakes such as Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, the Mississippi river basin, the Gulf Coast, the Tennessee River drainage, the Neosho River drainage, and other rivers and lakes.

Overall, they range from the Devils River in Texas to southern Ontario.

They are also abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Apalachicola River in Florida. The two most populous spotted gar areas are the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River.

What is a giant spotted gar's habitat?

The habitat of the spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is found to be the aquatic freshwater rivers, lakes, and creeks. They prefer to live in shallow, slow-moving waters and swim quite near to the surface.

They are usually found around 10 to 17 ft deep from the surface of the water. One of the main habitats of the spotted gar is that they have been frequently observed to bask near the shorelines or banks where they are fallen trees and other natural debris.

In marine wildlife, spotted gars are hardly ever seen in rivers where there are vegetation covers. This vegetation cover is where they hide all through the day, this is because spotted gars are nocturnal.

These fish are known to become more active during the night in order to search for prey. Sometimes, they can also extend their habitat range to brackish waters.

Who do spotted gars live with?

The spotted gar is known to be very solitary in nature. They do not really travel with a group or a school.

Some reports indicate that this species of fish is very territorial as well. However, there are contrasting reports that state that this gar species can be kept in a large aquarium with other bigger fish quite peacefully. So, it is safe to say that the jury is still out on whether the spotted gar is territorial or not.

How long does a spotted gar live?

This fish has different average ages between males and females. Males are known to have an average lifespan of around eight years in the wild.

The females, on the other hand, are known to survive for 10 years, slightly more than their male counterparts. The highest spotted gar lifespan to be recorded was for 18 years. No other individuals from this fish species have exceeded that age.

How do they reproduce?

For these fish, the spawning season starts around April and continues until June. Sometimes, the spawning may be induced when the temperature of the water is between the 69 to 79 °F range. Interestingly, males are smaller than females with one female having multiple partners for spawning.

For the mating rituals, males congregate in shallow waters and compete for the bigger females. The females are known to make quick movements once the eggs are deposited.

On average, females lay anywhere between the range of 1,400 to 20,000 eggs. A higher number of eggs are laid during the peak breeding season of October. Usually, it has been noticed that the females of this species lay around 12,000 eggs.

The eggs are laid on the surface of aquatic vegetation. In a unique turn, the eggs are coated with a highly toxic adhesive that acts as a deterrent to their predators. Apart from that, spotted gar eggs are greenish in coloration. These eggs hatch around 10 to 14 days later.

Neither males nor females take responsibility for the young gar. From the get-go, a young gar will have to fend for itself. They will be fully developed by the age of two.

What is their conservation status?

Due to the large abundance of these animals in the river ecosystems of the United States of America, the conservation status of this fish is safe now f0r the time being. This is reflected in the fact that the International Union For Conservation Of Nature has placed this fish in the 'Least Concern' category.

However, in some places like Lake Erie and Ontario, the garfish are endangered and at risk due to the destruction of their habitat and pollution caused by humans.

Spotted Gar Fun Facts

What do spotted gars look like?

Spotted gars are apex predators in their marine wildlife.

One can imagine what the most distinct feature of this fish will be from the 'spotted' moniker in its name. The body of the spotted gar is marked by black spots. More often than not, the body of the gar is mistaken to be a log lying in the river bed.

This is because they have cylindrical and long bodies. The head of the fish extends to form a long snout.

The dorsal fins are set in such a way that it extends back to the rounded caudal fins. The elongated head of the fish contains a mouth that has sharp teeth resembling needles. This helps in catching other marine animals as their prey.

These species of gars are known to have diamond-shaped scales. In turn, the diamond-shaped scales can be defined as a type of bony scale. This bony scale of the fish is widely known as diamond-shaped ganoid scales.

The body and the head of this fish have olive-brownish coloration. Black spots run throughout the body and even on the dorsal fins, pectoral fins, pelvic fins, and caudal fins. The underbelly of the spotted gar is whitish-olive.

The other physical adaptation that this species has is that they are well-equipped to survive in water conditions having low oxygen levels. They do so by breaking through the water surface and storing air in a specialized swim bladder. This swim bladder acts as a primitive lung for the gar.

How cute are they?

While they might seem cute with their adorable spots on the top of the head and cute spotted fins, this species of gar has developed quite a reputation as fierce predators amongst river wildlife. Yet, many say that this reputation is not true and that they are quite easy-going fishes.

However, we cannot help but admit that the gar does look pretty adorable visually.

How do they communicate?

Unfortunately, not much is known about communication between spotted gars.  Many researchers have speculated that the gar might possess the ability of a lateral line system where they can prey on their food near their range.

How big is a spotted gar?

The spotted gar size can range between 2 to 3 ft (60.9-91.4 cm). There are some studies that tell us that sexual dimorphism exists between the two genders with males being smaller than females. These reports say that males are around 17 in on average while females average around 19 in.

In the Florida gar vs. spotted gar debate, both the gars are similar in size. However, in the case of spotted gar vs longnose gar, the longnose gar is almost twice the size of their spotted cousins.

How fast can a spotted gar swim?

Gars are not fast swimmers. They have a bony scale structure that makes them not very flexible and thus they prefer slow-moving waters.

How much does a spotted gar weigh?

The average weight of the fish ranges between 2-9 lb (0.9-4 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the males and female s of this species.

What would you call a baby spotted gar?

Following the common convention, the young gar can be simply called a fry.

What do they eat?

The one thing that spotted gars are always found doing is eating. The spotted gar diet consists of crustaceans, smaller fishes, and shrimps. The fishes that it consumes as part of its diet are bluegill, golden topminnow, spotted sunfish, and warmouth. The diet of a young gar can also include mosquito larvae.

Are they dangerous?

While their bite may cause serious injuries, it is their eggs that are poisonous and highly toxic for consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

We really wouldn't recommend this fish as a pet. They might bully and even eat other smaller fishes in the aquarium.

Did you know...

These gars with their spots on the top of the head grow quite rapidly. Male gars grow at about 1.9 inches per year while female gars grow about 1.5 inches per year.

The spotted alligator gar is another name of these spotted gars. Interestingly, the alligator gar, which is the biggest type of gar, is known to eat spotted gars.

Is spotted gar good to eat?

No, the spotted gar is not good to eat. They are thought to be a cancer risk as they have high levels of mercury.

How to care for spotted gars?

Spotted gar care in captivity must start with a proper spotted gar aquarium. The spotted gar tank size should be big so that these gars have sufficient space. They may be fed with live feeder fish or frozen fish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including yellowfin tuna and giant oarfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our longnose gar coloring pages.  

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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