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The Alligator Gar Fish: Is the Gator Gar Fish North America's Largest Freshwater Fish?

written by: Christopher Kochan•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/23/2010

Learn about the Alligator Gar fish and find out if it is North America's largest freshwater fish. Learn the Alligator Gar habitat, details about where the Garfish lives, and the current length and weight of the Alligator Gar World record.

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    The Alligator Gar Fish

    Alligator Gar The Alligator Gar fish, also called the Gator Gar or referred to as the Garfish, gets its name from its two rows of teeth on its top jaw and its long snout filled with teeth, which are very similar to regular alligators. The Alligator Gar is the largest species of all other garfish and it is also known to be the largest freshwater fish in all of North America, with the Alligator Gar world record set at 279 pounds!

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    Physical Features

    Alligator Gar The Alligator Gar fish is coated with diamond shaped scales along its body, which on average weighs 100 pounds and ranges in length from eight to twelve feet, when mature. The top of its body is a dark brown and olive color, which turns to a lighter, cream colored stomach. It resembles an alligator with its long mouth and its similar colors.

    The Gator Gar has fins all along its body, in order to help it maneuver its lengthy body through the water, while also keeping it afloat.

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    The Alligator Gar Habitat

    Most of the Alligator Gar fish are located in the south-eastern part of the United States, with a very few lurking out into other places around the world. Some have traveled up rivers as far as northern Kansas, while others find themselves wandering into places like Jarkarta, Indonesia which was found when a flood rose, and then cleared out and it was lying in the city. A fisherman also caught an Alligator Gar fish trapped in fishing nets in Bera, Pahang.

    The Alligator Gar habitat is usually located in deep water. They usually can be found in calm pools of water, deep rivers, backwaters, and larger lakes lurking around the bottom. They tend to skim along the top of plants and fish beds to feed. The Alligator Gar will also swim to random locations, as opposed to other fish which simply stay within a certain distance of their habitat.

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    Behavior of the Garfish

    Although a very large fish and carnivorous, the Alligator Gar fish is not aggressive towards humans at all. Only very rare cases have been found with encounters between the Alligator Gar fish and humans. Although it is a freshwater fish, it’s been known to adapt to salt water, hence how it got to Indonesia. The Alligator Gar fish can also breathe for up to two hours out of water.

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    The Alligator Gar Diet

    As said before, the Alligator Gar is carnivorous, eating smaller fish as it swims along the top of plants at the bottom of the water. Along with smaller fish, the Alligator Gar fish has been found to be eating waterfowl that lands on the surface of the water.

    When fishing for an Alligator Gar, you should either use larger fake baits or larger live bait, as they tend to after food which can satisfy their diet, compared to going after smaller minnows or worms. Be careful when eating Gator Gar and others as some fish may be contaminated with Mercury that humans have intentionally and unintentionally released into the environment.

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    Scientific Classification

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Actinopterygii

    Order: Lepisosteiformes

    Family: Lepisosteidae

    Genus: Atractosteus

    Species: Atractosteus Spatula