Longnose Gar
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Top view of snout: The length from the eyes to the snout tip is about 15 times the snout width. Also notice the lack of spots.
  • Close-up caudal region: Notice the diffuse black spots on the median fins and the posterior flanks.
  • Close-up snout: Notice the dark freckling on the jaws.
  • Side view: There are 60-66 lateral line scales, 47-55 predorsal scales, and 17-24 transverse scales. The arrows indicate the body span for the scale count.
  • Side view of a breeding male: Breeding males are much darker.
  • Close-up caudal region: The upper part of the juvenile tail shows a long filament.
  • Side view of a juvenile: Juveniles have a dark lateral stripe.
  • Underside view of a juvenile: Notice the belly striping.
  • Close-up head region of a juvenile: Notice that the lateral stripe extends through the head.
  • Alternative view of a young-of-year (a fish less than one year old).
  • Alternative view of a young-of-year (a fish less than one year old).
  • Alternative view of a yearling (a fish more than 1 year but less than 2 years old).
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Gars (Lepisosteidae)
Mouth and Snout: Snout dorsal-ventrally flattened. Prominent beak-like snout forms mouth, which is terminal to slightly subterminal with numerous small but obvious needle-like teeth. No barbels. The longnose gar has a longer mouth than the shortnose gar. Body Pattern: Diffuse black spots on posterior portion of body, overlying dark gray, brown, olive or tan flanks. Specimens that are under 500 mm TL may have a broad dark lateral stripe; this breaks up into blotches and fades in the larger specimens. Undersides white with dark freckling on chin. Median fins spotted; pelvics and pectorals sometimes also with diffuse spots. The spots are more pronounced toward the back of the fish, and lighter toward the front. The background color of the longnose gar may be a little lighter than that of the shortnose gar. There is considerable variation; some individuals are a light gray, and some are almost black. It is fully scaled with thick ganoid (rhomboid) scales. Body Shape: The body is long, cylindrical, and rigid. Typical adult size is 700-1000 mm TL, with a maximum of about 1800 mm (35 inches).
Heterocercal tail, but rounded. In older adults it is not as elongated at the top. Single dorsal fin with no spines, located on the posterior portion of the back. Pelvic fins abdominal. No adipose fin. The anal and dorsal fins are set far back on the body toward the tail.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The long, cylindrical, rigid body shape and long, beak-like snout distinguish the gars. In top view the length from the eyes to the tip of the mouth is fifteen times the minimum width, no spots on top of head or snout, but sometimes a few on the jaw. Lateral line scales 60-66, predorsal scales 47-55, transverse scales 17-24. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males very dark, almost completely black.
Juveniles have a very pronounced dark lateral stripe, dramatic coloration, and a long filament on the tail. Ventral view.
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Gar, LongnoseNarrower snout with length about 15 times the width
Gar, ShortnoseBeak-like with numerous sharp teeth. In top view the length from the eyes to the tip is about 5 times the minimum width
Gar, SpottedNot as long and narrow, with length about 5 times width
Body Pattern
Gar, LongnoseNo spots on top of head or snout, but sometimes a few on jaw
Gar, ShortnoseNo spots on top of head, snout or jaw
Gar, SpottedDiffuse, dark, eye-sized or larger spots on top of head, snout and jaw (may be hard to see on head and snout in turbid or stained water)
Lateral Line Scales
Gar, Longnose60-66
Gar, Shortnose55-64 (usually more than 58)
Gar, Spotted54-59
Predorsal Scales
Gar, Longnose47-55
Gar, Shortnose45-54
Gar, Spotted45-54 (usually less than 50)
Transverse Scales
Gar, Longnose17-24
Gar, Shortnose20-23
Gar, Spotted17-24 (usually less than 21)
Similarity Index
Gar, LongnoseN/A
Gar, ShortnoseModerately similar
Gar, SpottedModerately similar