Tropical Gar (Atractosteus tropicus) may be found in the backwaters and slow moving sections of rivers, lakes, swamps, and shallow lagoons from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica. They are often found in the warm stagnant waters of lowland areas and may be seen on the surface, where they resemble ﬂoating logs. Juvenile gar feed primarily at night, mainly or exclusively on other ﬁshes, although plants and fruit have been reported as possibly part of the adult diet. Tropical Gar grow rapidly, reaching reproductive size at two years of age. Reproductively mature individuals enter shallow lakes at the beginning of the dry season to spawn. Some adults also reproduce in June and July when rains are heaviest and rivers ﬂood their banks, creating excellent spawning habitat with ﬂooded vegetation. Large schools of Tropical Gar deposit thousands of eggs in a gelatinous mass in the shallow waters. The adults return to the river, leaving the fry in the ﬂooded vegetation. (Barrientos-Villalobos and Espinosa de los Monteros 2008 and references therein)
In Mexico, Tropical Gar have been collected from the Coatzacoalcos River in Southern Veracruz to the Usumacinta River in the states of Tabasco and Chiapas. Isolated populations occur on the Paciﬁc slope of Chiapas. In Central America, this species has been reported from Guatemala, El Salvador (Zanjón El Chino) and Nicaragua (Rio Negro, Lake Managua, and Lake Nicaragua). The southernmost known population inhabits the San Juan River and other small rivers in the Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica. (Barrientos-Villalobos and Espinosa de los Monteros 2008 and references therein)
In response to concerns about the loss of gar populations in Central America in the early 1980s, Costa Rica declared their populations at risk, but other countries have shown less concern. Tropical Gar remain among the main fish consumed by humans in Tabasco, Mexico. In at least parts of their range, Tropical Gar populations are declining, presumably due to some combination of habitat degradation and loss and overexploitation by fisheries. Genetic evidence suggests the possibility that there may be a distinct cryptic “Tropical Gar” species in Guatemala. (Barrientos-Villalobos and Espinosa de los Monteros 2008 and references therein)
43 Tropical Gar collected from Tabasco, Mexico, ranged in length from 270 to 680 mm. These 43 individuals harbored eight species of helminth parasites, including four trematodes, a cestode, and three nematodes. (Salgado-Maldonado et al 2004)
| Common names: gar (English), pejelagarto (Espanol), lagarto (Espanol) |
Atractosteus tropicus Gill, 1863
Elongate, moderately slender and robust; long conical, relatively broad snout; nostrils at front of snout; operculum nearly as deep as long, angular behind and convex below; large fangs on both jaws, in two rows on top jaw and one on bottom; gill rakers large and flattened, with top edge convoluted, 57-62 on first gill arch; pectoral low on flank; pelvics at about middle of body; dorsal (1) and anal fin at rear just before tail; fins without spines; vertebral column continues upwards in a fleshy ridge at base of tail fin; tail a fan with its top edge covered by bony scales; body covered with an armor of large, heavy, rhomboidal scales, attached diagonally to each other by peg-and-socket; 51-56 lateral line scales, 43-48 scales before dorsal fin; anus bordered by three modified scales; dorsal, tail and anal fins with bony scales bordering first ray, top edge of tail fin covered with bony scales.
Adult: dark to pale brown with numerous dark brown blotches above; a dark stripe along flank; sometimes a dark spot on upper base of tail.
Juvenile: dark above, light below, with a dark stripe along flank; a lower stripe on belly from operculum to anal fin then to tail fin; belly spotted between stripes.
Reaches 125 cm
Depth: 0-10 m
Found in Caribbean and Pacific rivers; enters estuaries of Pacific drainages.
From southern Mexico to Nicaragua on the Pacific coast.
Global Endemism: All species, TEP non-endemic, New world (East Pacific + West Atlantic), Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
Regional Endemism: All species, Eastern Pacific non-endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic, Continent, Continent only
Climate Zone: Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
Catalog Number: USNM 6806
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Preparation: Photograph; Radiograph
Collector(s): J. Dow
Locality: Costa Rica, North America
- Holotype: Gill, T. N. 1863. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 15: 172.
Inshore/Offshore: Inshore, Inshore Only
Water Column Position: Surface, Near Surface, Mid Water, Water column only
Habitat: Estuary, Freshwater
FishBase Habitat: Pelagic
Depth range (m): 0.2 - 6
Depth range (m): 0.2 - 6
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), bony fishes, sea snakes/mammals/turtles/birds
Diseases and Parasites
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Atractosteus tropicus
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Atractosteus tropicus
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
CITES: Not listed
The tropical gar, Atractosteus tropicus, is a fish found in freshwaters from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, reported to reach lengths of up to 1.25 m in the wild (albeit often much smaller in captivity). The heaviest individual known weighed 2.89 kg (6.4 lb). The tropical gar looks very similar to the longnose gar in color and markings, but can be distinguished by its shorter, broader snout. The tropical gar's diet consists mainly of cichlids and other fish.
- "Atractosteus tropicus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 24 January 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Atractosteus tropicus" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
|This Lepisosteiformes-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
Spitzer, Mark (2015). Return of the Gar. U of North Texas Press. ISBN 9781574415995
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