Shortnose 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.
  • Close-up of underside of head: Notice that there are no spottling/freckling on the chin or jaw.
  • Top view of snout: Notice the snout lengths ratios; there are no spots on top of the snout.
  • The arrows are indicating the areas where the counts of lateral line, predorsal, and transverse scales are made. There are 55-64 lateral line scales, 45-54 predorsal scales, and 20-23 transverse scales.
  • Close-up caudal region: Notice the scarcity of spots on the fins and the lack of spots on the body.
  • Close-up snout: Notice the beak-like mouth with numerous sharp teeth.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: They are similar to the young-of-year of the longnose gar. They have a dark lateral stripe and the top of the tail has a filament.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: They are similar to the young-of-year of the longnose gar. They have a dark lateral stripe and the top of the tail has a filament.
  • Top view of a young-of-year: They are similar to the young-of-year of the longnose gar. They have a dark lateral stripe and the top of the tail has a filament.
  • Close-up top of head: Note the unusual spotting pattern, which is more characteristic of the spotted gar.
  • Close-up chin: Note the unusual spotting pattern, which is more characteristic of the spotted gar.
  • Side view: Note the unusual spotting pattern, which is more characteristic of the spotted gar.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
  • Alternative side view of an adult.
  • Alternative top view of the snout.
  • Close-up of tail region: Notice the two spots on the base of the tail.
  • Close-up of scales: Notice the thick ganoid (rhomboid) scales.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Gars (Lepisosteidae)
Body
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 shortnose gar has a shorter mouth than the longnose gar. Body Pattern: No spots on the body (occasionally 1-2 at base of tail); back and fins dark brown, grayish brown or olive, sides lighter brown, olive or tan. Median fins may or may not have a few spots; paired fins do not. Undersides white. It is fully scaled with thick ganoid (rhomboid) scales. Body Shape: The body is long, cylindrical, and rigid. Typical adult size is 500-700 mm TL, with a maximum of about 800 mm.
Fins
Heterocercal tail, but rounded. Single dorsal fin with no spines, located on the posterior portion of the back. Pelvic fins abdominal. No adipose fins. In older adults it is not as elongated at the top. 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 five times the minimum width; no spots on top of head, snout or jaw. Lateral line scales 55-64 (usually more than 58), predorsal scales 45-54 (usually more than 50), transverse scale rows usually 20-23. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Males are much darker.
Juveniles
Juveniles have more pronounced spotting on the tail and may have an elongated upper filament on the tail. Dark lateral stripe on sides, fading above about 250 mm TL. They also tend to be more distinctly patterned.
Hybrids
None known from Wisconsin.
Compare Similar Species
Mouth
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, SpottedIn top view the length from the eyes to the tip is about 5 times the minimum width
Body Patterns
Gar, LongnoseNo spots on head or snout, but sometimes a few on the jaw.
Gar, ShortnoseNo spots on head, snout, or jaw.
Gar, SpottedSpots on head, snout, and jaw. Spots on head and snout may be hard to see 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 (usually more than 50)
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, LongnoseModerately similar
Gar, ShortnoseN/A
Gar, SpottedVery similar
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