Freshwater Animals: 50+ Animals That Call This Biome Their Habitat

Strongest animal bite – hippopotamus Africa, Aggression, Animal, Animal Body Part, Animal Head
© zengin

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Published: December 7, 2022

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The aquatic biome is divided into two categories – marine and freshwater. The latter is water containing less than 500 parts per million of dissolved salts. This liquid occurs naturally in lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.

Even though the total freshwater ecosystem is less than 0.01% of the planet’s surface water, it can still support over 125,000 species. This number includes both aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. Naturally, the most common freshwater animal is the fish.

But we shouldn’t drag this introduction! After all, we’re about to present more than 50 animals that live and prosper in the freshwater biome. As such, get your table-reading (or search) skills ready as you’re about to be blasted away with fresh(water) information!

50+ Animals That Call the Freshwater Biome Their Habitat

school of Yellow Perch

There’s so much more to the

freshwater biome

than just fish and aquatic animals.

©RLS Photo/

Before we begin, it’s essential to explain exactly what a biome is. Looking at freshwater, some might think that only animals living in this type of water can be mentioned in the table below.

However, per the definition, a biome is a large area characterized by vegetation, soil, climate, and wildlife. As such, while the heron doesn’t spend its whole life in freshwater bodies as it’s not a very good swimmer, this bird is tied to this particular biome – as its main food sources live in freshwater.

In short, if a species is tied to the freshwater biome one way or another, it will most likely end up being mentioned in a table like the one below. After all, there’s so much more to the freshwater biome than just fish and aquatic animals!

Before discussing more than 50 freshwater animals, it’s essential to mention that not all species in the genera mentioned below reside in freshwater habitats. At the same time, some can be found in both marine and freshwater environments.

AnimalScientific NameDistributionType of AnimalCharacteristic Features
American alligatorAlligator mississippiensisUnited States, MexicoReptileLargest alligator, bony nasal bridge, presents a fourth tooth
AxolotlAmbystoma mexicanumValley of MexicoAmphibianExternal gills, caudal fin extending from behind the head, wide heads, lidless eyes
Buru babirusaBabyrusa babyrussaBuru island of Indonesia, Sula Islands of Mangole, TaliabuMammalLong and thick brownish body hair
Eurasian beaverCastor fiberAsia, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Continental EuropeMammalLargest living rodent species
European bitterlingRhodeus amarusEuropeRay-finned fishUp to 4 inches long
CaecilianGymnophiona (order)South and Central America, Africa, southern AsiaAmphibianLimbless, vermiform/serpentine amphibians
CarpCyprinidae (family)Europe, AsiaRay-finned fish; oily freshwater fishScales and teeth on the inferior pharyngeal bones
Eurasian cootFulica atraEurope, Asia, New Zealand, North Africa, AustraliaBirdSlaty-black body, glossy back head, white bill
CrabBrachyura (infraorder)Worldwide in oceans, freshwater, on landCrustaceanThick exoskeleton, a pair of pincers 
CrayfishAstacoidea and Parastacoidea (superfamilies)Mainly North America, Australia, and New ZealandCrustaceanFeather-like gills; don’t survive in polluted water
DipperCinclus (genus)Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa (highlands)BirdSmall, short-tailed, stout, chunky
DragonflyAnisoptera (infraorder)Worldwide, except in AntarcticaInsectLarge compound eyes, transparent wings, elongated body
Electric eelElectrophorus (genus) Southern South AmericaRay-finned fishElongated, cylindrical body, dark gray-brown on the back
FrogAnura (order)Worldwide, except in AntarcticaAmphibianExtremely varied characteristics, according to species.
GullLaridae (family)Worldwide (including Antarctica and the high Arctic)BirdRounded tail, long legs, webbed feet, slightly hooked bill
HeronArdeidae (family)Worldwide, except in AntarcticaBirdLong necks, strong and long legs, harpoon-like bill
NewtPleurodelinae (subfamily)North America, North Africa, Asia, EuropeAmphibian; salamanderVaried, depending on the species
PiranhaSerrasalmidae (family)In the Amazon basin, in the rivers of the Guianas, and in the Sao Francisco River.Ray-finned fishSingle row of sharp teeth, small size, strong jaws
Great white pelicanPelecanus onocrotalusAfrica, Asia, Europe BirdHuge bird, dull pale-yellow gular pouch, pink/yellow bill
ShrimpCaridea and Dendrobranchiata (suborders)WorldwideCrustaceanElongated body, eight pairs of appendages, muscular abdomen, eyes on stalks
ShelduckTadorna (genus)Europe, Asia, North Africa, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Russia, East AsiaBirdMid-sized, 19.6 – 23.6 inches, green, black, and white colorations, feeds on small shore animals.
TurtleTestudines (order)Worldwide on continents, islands, and in oceansReptileShell developed from the ribs and made mostly of bone, solid and rigid skull.
WarblerPasseriformes (order)Depends on the speciesPerching birdSmall, colorful, vocal, feeds on insects
WigeonMareca (genus)The Palearctic, North America, and South AmericaBirds; dabbling ducksSteep forehead, distinctive breeding plumage in males, feeds on grass leaves.
X-ray tetraPristella maxillarisIn the Amazon and Orinoco basins, in the rivers of the GuianasRay-finned fish; characinTranslucent body, small, measuring around 2 inches long
Fishing catPrionailurus viverrinusSouth and Southeast AsiaMammal; wild catYellowish-gray fur, two black stripes on the cheeks and two above the eyes, two rows of spots around the throat
RaccoonProcyon lotorNorth AmericaMammalMeasures 16 – 28 inches long, grayish coat with dense underfur, known for its facial mask
ArowanaOsteoglossinae (subfamily)South America, Asia, and AustraliaRay-finned fish; bony fishBony head, elongated body covered with large scales
CapybaraHydrochoerus hydrochaerisSouth AmericaMammal; rodentBarrel-shaped body, short head, reddish-brown fur that’s yellowish-brown underneath
ArcherfishToxotes (genus)India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Northern Australia, and MelanesiaRay-finned fishDeep, laterally compressed body, measures around 5 – 7 inches
JacanaJacana (genus)In the American tropics and subtropics, western PanamaBirdLong neck, long yellow bill, black-brown coloration, pale yellow-green feathers
Yangtze finless porpoiseNeophocaena asiaeorientalisThe Yangtze River in ChinaMammal; toothed whaleGrows up to around 7 feet long, curved flippers with pointed ends, slender body
White sturgeonAcipenser transmontanusIn the Eastern PacificRay-finned fishGray to brownish dorsal side, pale ventral side, gray fins, around 5.2 feet long
Palmate newtLissotriton helveticusWestern EuropeAmphibian2 – 3.7 inches long, brown or olive with dark spots
Medicinal leechHirudo medicinalisEurope and AsiaAnnelid wormGreen, brown, or brown-green, has a thin red stripe on the dorsal side, and three jaws with 100 sharp edges.
GrebePodicipedidae (family)Worldwide, except in AntarcticaBirdSmall to medium-large, excellent swimmer, dense, waterproof plumage
GlyphisGlyphis (genus)Southeast Asia and AustraliaCartilaginous fish; river sharkStocky body with a high back, wide and flattened head, rounded snout
Crane flyTipulidae (family)Depends on the speciesInsectSlender body, stilt-like legs, long rostrum
Garter snakeThamnophis (genus)North and Central AmericaReptile; snakeLarge, round eyes, slender bodies, longitudinal stripes
CottonmouthAgkistrodon piscivorusSoutheastern United StatesReptile; pit viperBroad head, blunt snout, black, brown, gray, and olive color patterns
HippopotamusHippopotamus amphibiussub-Saharan AfricaMammalWide-opening mouth, canine tusks, almost hairless body, pillar-like legs
SnailGastropoda (class)WorldwideGastropodHighly depends on the snail type
Water volesArvicola (genus)Europe, Asia, Western North AmericaMammalThick fur, hairy fringes on feet, reach 4.7 – 8.6 inches long without tail
XenopoecilusXenopoecilus (genus)Sulawesi, IndonesiaRay-finned fishDepends on the species
Irrawaddy dolphinsOrcaella brevirostrisBay of Bengal, Southeast AsiaMammalGray to dark blue, pale underneath, small, triangular dorsal fin, high, rounded forehead
FlamingoPhoenicopteridae (family)The Americas, Afro-EurasiaWading birdPinkish or bright red plumage, long neck, two long legs
OtterLutrinae (subfamily)Depends on the speciesMammalLong, slim body, short limbs, sharp claws, long tails
HellbenderCryptobranchus alleganiensisEastern and central United StatesAmphibian; giant salamanderFlat head and body, short legs, four toes on front legs and five on back limbs, rudder-shaped tail
Diving beetleDytiscidae (family)Depends on the speciesInsect; water beetleBlackish, dark brown, or dark olive
CaimanCaimaninae (subfamily)Mexico, Central, and South AmericaReptile; alligatoridSmall-sized, lacks a bony septum, longer and sharper teeth
Water striderGerridae (family)Europe, North America, South America, Asia, South Africa, AustraliaInsectElongated body and legs, two antennae, long and narrow thorax

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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