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What Animals are Most Common in a Freshwater Biome?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The term freshwater biome refers to a region of the aquatic biome characterized by a much lower salt content than the saltwater biome. Within the freshwater biome are a number of different zones. Each of these zones has specific animals that are most common in it. For example, those within wetlands are quite different than those within the littoral zone of a river, and are also different from those in the freshwater biome of an estuary.

One of the most common creatures in a freshwater biome is the extremely small animals known as the cladoceran. These are more frequently known as water fleas, and they are tiny creatures which feed on the cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — which are prevalent in all freshwater zones. Cladocerans serve as a food source for a number of different species further up the food chain.

Fish are, of course, a very common creature found in freshwater biomes. In rivers and streams, in lakes and ponds, anywhere there is fresh water, depending on the location, one is likely to find a myriad species of fish. Some of the most common fish species in freshwater biomes are trout, salmon, and bass, but there are many others as well. These fish may feed on other, smaller freshwater fish, or on insects.

Insects are also very common in freshwater biomes, as there is usually ample stagnant water for them to reproduce. Mosquitoes can be found almost anywhere there is fresh water, as can black flies. Ticks, leeches, and chiggers are also found in freshwater biomes, and can be a severe annoyance to the unprepared. Dragonflies and butterflies are also often found on the edge of the freshwater biomes, with abundant plant life and food around available to them. Insects play a crucial role as a food source for other creatures in the freshwater biome.

Amphibians thrive in freshwater biomes, whether they be running water or stagnant marshland. Hundreds of species of frogs, toads, and salamanders all make their homes in the rivers and lakes of the world.

Water-loving snakes such as water moccasins also make their homes in the freshwater biomes of our planet. Their reptilian animal cousins the alligators and the freshwater crocodile may also be found in certain places on Earth. Turtles such as the snapping turtle and the box turtle can also be found in the freshwater biome.

Birds also make their home in the freshwater biome. Some are fairly common sightings, such as many species of ducks, geese, and swans. Others are rarer, though still fairly common, such as species of crane or heron. The birds that live in the freshwater biome may feed on a number of different things. Some pick through the mud by the shore to find tasty insects to eat. Others dive beneath the water to feast on fish or other small creatures.

Lastly, there are the mammals that call the freshwater biome their home. Though not as common as the birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, or fish that live in the freshwater regions of the world, mammals still play an important role in this crucial ecology. When people think of a freshwater animal, they’re usually filled with the thought of its cuteness. One need only consider the manatee, the otter, or the beaver, to see this. Three types of animal are common to certain freshwater regions, and are three of people’s top choices for adorable critters.

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Discussion Comments
By croydon — On Sep 15, 2012

@anon262534 - Personally, I think frogs are really adorable. Have you ever seen poison arrow frogs? They are all kinds of bright colors. And some of the fresh water fish are really cute too. Goldfish are fresh water fish and so are guppies and Siamese fighting fish and they are just gorgeous.

Plus the birds and animals that live around fresh water can be really cute. Check out the pukeko of New Zealand (he's red and blue and purple) or check out the Amazon river dolphins (they've even found river dolphins that are bright pink! that's as cute as you can get!). I know there are some slimy denizens of the freshwater biome, but not all wild freshwater animals are bad!

By indigomoth — On Sep 14, 2012

@anon46150 - It's one of the basics of research that you'll learn as you get older. You start out by finding a general article, like this one, which lists a bunch of different answers to a general question, then you figure out where and how you want to get specific and you delve deeper. One of the other comments, for example, mentions wanting to know about trout. So, that person can now look up freshwater trout and find out more about them.

They might realize there are lots of different kinds of trout, lots of stages to the trout lifecycle, lots of environmental issues facing some of these endangered animals, lots of cultural issues surrounding a fish that humans have eaten for generations. So, they decide what interests them the most (perhaps trout reaction to over-fishing) and hunt down more information on that.

A single article can only do so much and give so much information, before it becomes a book. And for that matter, a book can only say so much before it becomes an encyclopedia.

By Mor — On Sep 13, 2012

@Patangsu4 - Being adapted for salt water and for fresh water require completely different physiologies. If an animal is living in salt water all the time they need to be prepared to lose a lot of water and have methods of dealing with that, since water will move towards the high concentration of salt in the sea (through a process called osmosis).

I don't know a huge amount about amphibians, but I do know they have sensitive skins and need to be moist all the time, which, to me, says that they probably lose water very quickly even outside of a salty environment.

Maybe they could adapt to the ocean, or maybe some of them already have or did in the past, but currently the amphibians as a group seem to be fairly limited to animals with this kind of skin. It's one of the reasons these animals are often endangered, as their skin is very sensitive to pollution.

By anon267285 — On May 09, 2012

This website helped me a lot with my report. If you are looking at the reviews first, I recommend this website as no. 1.

@Wisegeek: Thank you for this very important article.

By anon262534 — On Apr 20, 2012

Animals are so cute, but these ones disgust me.

By anon246086 — On Feb 07, 2012

I would like to know about certain animals, like trout.

By anon172912 — On May 05, 2011

what animals live there?

By anon46150 — On Sep 23, 2009

when you talk about animals go into more specifics. This isn't enough to make an MLA position on any high school class, much less AP Biology.

By anon31510 — On May 06, 2009

salt would make their skin dry. that's why.

By Patangsu4 — On Apr 19, 2007

Could you answer: Why most amphibians don't live in or use the ocean?

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