Freshwater Animals | List of Freshwater Animals with Interesting Facts

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

What are freshwater animals? There are millions of different species of animals on earth – animals that walk the lands, roam the skies, and swim in the seas. There are creatures great and small, weird and wonderful, from friendly to fierce, but what about those that live in and around the water? When we talk about animals that either live in the water permanently or for part of the time we usually put them into two groups – those that live in salt water, and those that live in fresh water.

Freshwater Animals

Freshwater Animals Pin

What Are Freshwater Animals?

So, just what are freshwater animals? Freshwater animals are, as you might have guessed, animals that live in fresh water instead of the sea, or salt water. These are animals that are unable to live in salt water because the water contains too much salt for their bodies to cope with – it’s too salty for them, basically. There are a number of freshwater habitats – from lakes to rivers, to marshes and swamps – and there are a vast variety of freshwater animals that live there.

List of Freshwater Animals

Some freshwater animals include:

  • Alligators
  • Freshwater crocodiles
  • Otters
  • Water voles
  • Amazon river dolphins
  • Irrawaddy river dolphins
  • Yangtze finless porpoise
  • Glyphis (river shark)
  • Water snake
  • Cottonmouth (water moccasin) snake
  • African dwarf frog
  • Crayfish
  • Great crested newts
  • Fairy shrimp
  • Medicinal leech
  • Striped mayfly
  • Palmate newt
  • Freshwater turtles
  • Beluga
  • European eel
  • White sturgeon
  • River lamprey

Freshwater Animals with Facts

  • There are five species of freshwater river dolphins – the Irawaddy, Tucuxi, South Asian, and Amazon. There was another species – the Baiji dolphin – but it is now believed to be extinct.
  • When the Amazon river floods, the river dolphins can be seen swimming amongst the trees.
  • As the name suggests, Yangtze finless porpoises do not have a fin on their back. They also have a very round head which makes it look as though they do not have a beak.
  • Yangtze finless porpoises are officially classed as being critically endangered as there are less than 1,000 of them left in the world.
  • Alligators can smell blood several miles away.
  • An alligator has 80 teeth and constantly replaces the ones they lose, meaning that they can go through several thousand teeth in their lifetime.
  • Freshwater turtles can live for well over forty years.
  • Australia alone has more than twenty different species of freshwater turtles.
  • People often mistake water voles for rats.
  • Cottonmouth snakes can grow to be 3 to 4 feet long, are venomous, and get their name from the light colour on the inside of their mouths.
  • There are more than 10,000 species of freshwater fish.
  • Some species of fish, such as salmon and trout, live in the sea but come into the freshwater rivers to reproduce. This is known as being anadromous, while catadromous is the reverse – animals that live in the freshwater but reproduce in saltwater.
  • Water snakes can stay underwater for up to 90 minutes.
  • The diving bell spider, also commonly known as the water spider, is the only species of spider that spends the majority of its time underwater and when in the water it carries an air bubble on its back.

Types of Freshwater Animals

There are many different types of animals that live in freshwater environments, including rivers, lakes, and streams. Here are some examples of freshwater animals:

  1. Fish: There are many different types of freshwater fish, including trout, bass, catfish, and salmon. These fish are adapted to living in freshwater environments and can be found in many different bodies of water around the world.
  2. Amphibians: Frogs, toads, and salamanders are all examples of freshwater amphibians. These animals lay their eggs in water and spend part of their lives in the water before transitioning to land.
  3. Crustaceans: Crayfish, shrimp, and crabs are all examples of freshwater crustaceans. These animals are adapted to living in freshwater environments and can be found in rivers, streams, and lakes.
  4. Mollusks: Snails, mussels, and clams are all examples of freshwater mollusks. These animals are filter feeders and play an important role in maintaining the health of freshwater ecosystems.
  5. Insects: Mosquitoes, dragonflies, and mayflies are all examples of freshwater insects. These animals are adapted to living in and around freshwater environments and play an important role in the food chain.
  6. Reptiles: Turtles and snakes are examples of freshwater reptiles. These animals can be found in or around freshwater environments and play an important role in the ecosystem.
  7. Birds: Many different types of birds can be found in freshwater environments, including ducks, geese, and herons. These animals rely on freshwater environments for food and nesting sites.


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