Detailed examination of early development and growth of Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus) was conducted using morphologic and morphometric characters. Larvae were reared at a constant water temperature (28 ± 1°C) from hatching to 18 days after hatching (DAH). Observation of the disappearance, reduction, or appearance of external structures, pigment characteristics, and behavior, identified three developmental stages (attached 0–3 DAH; transitional 4–10 DAH; and free-swimming 11–18 DAH). For the 18 day trial, the average growth rate was 1.30 mm/d and the specific growth rate averaged 10.2%/d. The slowest growth rates (0.02 mm/d and 2.8%/d, 7–11 DAH) coincided with the exhaustion of yolk reserves and the transition from endogenous to exogenous feeding. In addition to the slowest growth rates, the most dramatic morphological changes in A. tristoechus were observed during the transition from endogenous to exogenous feeding. Five total length (TL) groupings were established using 25 morphologic and morphometic characters. The characters snout length, pelvic fin length, snout width at nares, head length, and head width best identified length groupings. As the larvae developed, the snout and head lengthened and narrowed. Proportionally, the snout was narrower and the head longer in Cuban gar larvae than in other lepisosteid larvae.
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