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The Alligator gar is a popular gamefish and it is also sold as a food fish. It is also kept by aquarists, but since the Alligator gar grows really large it will require a huge aquarium. It is therefore not kept by beginner aquarists; it is typically housed by public aquariums and by dedicated and experienced predatory fish enthusiasts.
Alligator gar classification
The Alligator gar is the biggest of all the gar species and is often referred to as Gator gar. Its scientific name is Atractosteus spatula, but it used to be classified as a member of the genus Lepisosteus and was therefore called Lepisosteus spatula. The Alligator gar is a primitive ray-finned fished.
Alligator gar description
The Alligator gar sports a brown to olive dorsal surface and a paler ventral surface. The scales of an Alligator gar are so called ganoid scales. Ganoid scales are only found in gars, reedfishes and bichirs. This type of scales is shaped like a diamond and they interlock with each other. Over the cosmine layer of each scale and under the enamel there is a layer of ganoin. The scales of the Alligator gar are hard and shiny. In Native American tradition Alligator gar scales are used to create jewellery.
The Alligator gar distinguishes itself from other gars by having a dual row of really sharp teeth in its upper jaw. It is these characteristic teeth that have rendered it the common name Alligator gar since it perceived to be somewhat alligator like.
Alligator gar habitat
The Alligator gar lives in a subtropical part of the world, between 44°n and 20°n, and from 101°w to 82°w.
The Alligator gars lives in Mexico and in the south-eastern parts of the United States, from the Mississippi River basin, south-western Ohio and southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. They are found along the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain from the River Enconfina in Florida to Veracruz in Mexico. Alligator gars have been reported from ten different U.S. states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina.
Alligator gars commonly found in swamps, backwaters and slow-moving pools of water, as well as in bayous, lakes and larger rivers. They can survive in both brackish water and saltwater, and compared to other gars they adapt quite well to saltwater conditions. It is however not very common for Alligator gars to venture into brackish and saltwater environments.
Alligator gar feeding
The Alligator gar is a carnivorous animal and fish is its staple diet. It will however also consider crustaceans and waterfowl suitable prey, and Alligator gars have been spotted when they have attacked and consumed alligators that have been up to five feet in length. The Alligator gar is aggressive and lives and hunts alone. It will usually stay hidden among underwater plants
Alligator gar reproduction
Studies indicate that the Alligator gar might prefer running waters for breeding purposes and therefore leave more sluggish pools to find such environments. Spawning takes place in May and the Alligator gar deposit its eggs in shallow water.
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