iPhoneOgraphy – 13 Apr 2016 (Day 104/366)
The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is a primitive freshwater fish of the family Lepisosteidae, native to North America from the Lake Erie and southern Lake Michigan drainages south through the Mississippi River basin to Gulf Slope drainages, from lower Apalachicola River in Florida to Nueces River in Texas, USA. It has a profusion of dark spots on its body, head, and fins. Spotted gar are long and have an elongated mouth with many teeth used to eat other fish and crustaceans. They grow to 0.61–0.91 metres (2–3 ft) in length and weigh 1.8–2.7 kilograms (4–6 lb) on average, making it the smallest of the gars. The name Lepisosteus is Greek for “bony scale”. Habitat for spotted gar is clear pools of shallow water in creeks, rivers, and lakes.
The spotted gar Lepisosteus oculatus is a part of the gar family (Lepisosteidae). They are notable for being one of the few extant fish species with ganoid scales. They have been known to hybridize with (and look similar to) Florida gar. It occurs in quiet, clear pools and backwaters of lowland creeks, small to large rivers, oxbow lakes, swamps, and sloughs. It occasionally enters brackish waters. The fish is a voracious predator, feeding on various kinds of fishes and crustaceans. The lifespan for L. oculatus varies between males and females. The maximum lifespan for a gar is 18 years. Males mature at the age of two or three, whereas females mature at three or four years old. Females on average are known to be larger and live longer than the males. Females also have less annual mortality rates.
Spotted gar spawn in the spring in April, May, and June, or when the water temperature is between 21.0 and 26.0 °C (69.8 and 78.8 °F), depending on the location. Gar spawn in shallow water with abundant vegetation and cover. The spawning season occurs from April to May. A female can have multiple mating partners and the female is usually larger than the males with which it is mating. The number of eggs the female lays can vary up to about 20,000 eggs, but on average about 13,000 eggs are laid. They lay their eggs on leaves of aquatic plants. The eggs are green in color and have an adhesive coating to keep them attached to aquatic vegetation. After 10 to 14 days, the eggs hatch. At this stage, the gar are most vulnerable. Also, shallow water is preferred, about 0–1 m in depth. Males mature at the age of two or three, whereas females mature at three or four years old. The male’s average lifespan is 8 years and the female’s average lifespan is 10 years. Females have lower annual mortality rates.