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Do Alligator Gars Swim in Saltwater?

By Elizabeth Muirhead

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Alligator gars (Atractosteus spatula) are large, carnivorous fish that used to exist all over the world. Their habitat has become greatly reduced, limited to areas of Central America and North America. Alligator gars typically live in freshwater or brackish water but are sometimes found in saltwater.

Habitat

The main range of alligator gars is the U.S. South: From Ohio to Florida and Texas. They also live in Mexico, and populations have been found in brackish water off the Gulf Coast and in Nicaragua. Alligator gars appear to be more tolerant of increased salinity levels than other gars, although they don’t typically live in saltwater. Within their range, alligator gars are typically found in slow-moving rivers, lakes, bays and even bayous. They prefer freshwater or brackish water. Their range is slowly decreasing. Causes are overfishing and flood control mechanisms such as dams that reduce their available breeding habitats.

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Author

Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.

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