The Florida gar is a member of the Lepisosteidae family, an ancient group of predaceous ﬁsh once in abundance and widely distributed. Its specialized air bladder enables the gar to take in air at the surface, allowing it to survive in the poorest waters. Although edible, Florida gar are unpopular as food. They are caught by anglers, although not extensively pursued. The roe is highly toxic to humans, animals, and birds.
IdentificationThe body of the Florida gar is cigar-shaped, and it has a broad, tooth-ﬁlled snout. The single dorsal ﬁn is located directly above the anal ﬁn. Its tough scales form a bricklike pattern. Like the spotted gar, it has spots on top of the head, as well as over the entire body and on all the ﬁns. These spots sometimes run together to form stripes.
The Florida and the spotted gar can be distinguished from each other mainly by the distance from the front of the eye to the back of the gill cover. In the Florida gar, it is less than two-thirds the length of the snout; in the spotted gar, it is more than two-thirds the length of the snout. The Florida gar can be distinguished from the longnose gar—the only other gar occurring in the Florida’s range—by the absence of spots on its head and by the elongated beak of the longnose.