Characteristics and Behavior:
The Florida gar is a large predatory fish species found throughout freshwater ecosystems in Florida. They are solitary predators, often found near the water's surface or in shallow areas, feeding on small fish and crustaceans with their snout-like mouths full of sharp teeth. They have a long, cylindrical body shape covered in large scales that protect them against larger predators. This species is olive-green to brown on its upper body with darker splotchy patches or spots across the sides and back. To survive in low-oxygen environments, they have adapted to breathe air through a swim bladder modified as a lung.
- Found in freshwater systems throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina in the United States.
- Prefers slow-moving or still waters with dense vegetation or debris, such as swamps, marshes, and backwaters of rivers.
- Florida Gars can live up to 20 years in the wild and reach lengths of up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet).
- Mature at around 4-5 years old, and spawning occurs during the spring in shallow waters.
- Eggs hatch within a week, and the young are protected by the male until they are independent.
- Florida Gars are sometimes kept in aquariums as they are tolerant of poor water quality and are interesting to watch.
- They are known to gulp air at the surface for oxygen with an adapted swim bladder in low-oxygen environments.
- Florida Gars have a unique relationship with the Florida Manatee, as they have been observed swimming together and even using the Manatee's back as a resting platform.