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Fish ID – Gar

Longnose Gar

Lepisosteus osseus
Also known as: gar

Description: Primitive fish having a rounded tail fin; hard plate-like, non-overlapping scales; and a long, slender, beak-like bony snout with sharp teeth. Thrives in warm, sluggish backwaters that have oxygen levels too low for most other fishes since its swim bladder is connected to the throat and can function much like a lung. It stalks its prey and often captures it with a quick flick of its head – capturing the prey sideways; once struggling has ceased, the prey is turned in the jaws and swallowed head first. Diet consists almost entirely of fish. Seldom caught by anglers.

Family: Gar
Type: Non-Game Fish
Range: Larger rivers and associated sandpits of eastern Nebraska.

Longnose Gar

Shortnose Gar

Lepisosteus platostomus
Also known as: gar

Description: Primitive fish having a rounded tail fin; hard plate-like, non-overlapping scales; and a moderately short, broad, beak-like bony snout with sharp teeth. Our most common gar and is most tolerant of muddy water. Has the ability to utilize its swim bladder much like a lung which allows it to survive in waters with low oxygen levels. Has a more diverse diet than longnose gar – consisting of insects and crayfish in addition to fish. Seldom caught by anglers.

Family: Gar
Type: Non-Game Fish
Range: Large and medium-size rivers of eastern Nebraska and associated sandpits.

Shortnose Gar