Lake Animals Pictures & Facts


Animals that live in lakes include fish such as lake trout, walleye and northern pike; mammals such as beavers, mink and otters; birds such as ducks, herons and kingfishers; and invertebrates such as clams, mussels, water snails, crayfish and dragonflies.

On this page is a list of lake animals that includes these and other species from around the world.

Scroll down to browse all of the animals, or use the index below to see information on a particular species.


Lake Animals

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Alligator

American Alligator
American Alligator

Class: Reptilia

Order: Crocodylia

Scientific Name: Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator), Alligator sinensis (Chinese Alligator)

Where Found: United States (especially southeastern states), China

There are two species of alligator: the American alligator, found in the southeastern United States, and the Chinese alligator, found in China.

These large reptiles inhabit freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and swamps.

Known for their tough armored bodies and powerful jaws, alligators are top predators in their environments. They play a crucial role in their ecosystems, controlling populations of other animals and even helping to shape the landscape in some areas.

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You can find out more about the American alligator on this page: American Alligator Facts

You can find out more about reptiles on this page: Reptiles – The Ultimate Guide

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Bass

Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Scientific Name: Micropterus (genus)

Where Found: North America, Introduced worldwide

Black basses are a group (the genus Micropterus) of freshwater fish native to North America. They include the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass, among others.

Black basses have been introduced worldwide due to their popularity as game fish. Known for their aggressive behavior and fighting spirit when hooked, these fish are a favorite among anglers.

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Beaver

North American Beaver
North American Beaver. Beavers don’t just live in lakes; they also build them!

Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Scientific Name: Castor canadensis (North American beaver), Castor fiber (Eurasian beaver)

Where Found: North America, Europe, and parts of Asia

Beavers are large, semi-aquatic rodents known for their dam-building behavior. They are excellent swimmers and are found in a variety of freshwater habitats including rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes.

There are two species of beaver: the North American beaver and the Eurasian beaver.

Beavers use their powerful teeth to cut down trees and other plant material to build dams and lodges, which serve as their homes. These structures have a significant impact on the surrounding ecosystem, often creating new habitats for a variety of wildlife.

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You can find out more about North American beavers on this page: North American Beaver Facts

You can find out more about mammals on this page: Mammals – The Ultimate Guide

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Caddisfly

Caddisfly Larvae
Caddisfly Larvae

Class: Insecta

Order: Trichoptera

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Caddisflies are a group of insects found near freshwater habitats all over the world. Their larvae are known for building protective cases around themselves using materials found in their environment such as small rocks, sand, twigs, and plant material. These cases help protect the larvae from predators.

As adults, caddisflies are nocturnal and often have a moth-like appearance. They are an important food source for a variety of fish and other aquatic animals.

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Catfish

Catfish

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Siluriformes

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Catfish are a diverse group of ray-finned fish named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s whiskers. These bottom-dwelling fish can inhabit a range of water systems, including lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Catfish are known for their strong sense of taste; their entire bodies are covered in taste buds, allowing them to detect food in dark, murky waters.

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Clams and Mussels

Mussels

Class: Bivalvia

Order: Unionoida

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Clams and mussels are bivalve mollusks with two-part, hinged shells providing protection for their soft bodies. Mussels typically have elongated shells, while the shells of clams are more rounded.

While many species of clams and mussels are found in saltwater habitats, many others live in freshwater habitats such as lakes and rivers.

Both clams and mussels are filter feeders, siphoning in water to filter out microscopic plant and animal life for sustenance. They are important contributors to the health of their ecosystem, helping to keep the water clean and clear.

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Coot

American Coot

Class: Aves

Order: Gruiformes

Scientific Name: Fulica (genus)

Where Found: Worldwide

Coots are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family. They are known for their distinctive white frontal shield, contrasting with the primarily black or dark grey color of their bodies.

Coots are adaptable birds and are found in a wide variety of aquatic environments, including lakes and ponds. Despite being weak fliers, they are strong swimmers and divers, feeding primarily on aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish.

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Crayfish

Virile Crayfish
Virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis, a species found in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada

Class: Malacostraca

Order: Decapoda

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Crayfish, also known as crawfish or crawdads, are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. They are found in a variety of freshwater habitats including rivers, lakes, and streams.

Crayfish are omnivorous, feeding on a range of food including plants, insects, and small fish. Crayfish are harvested for food in many parts of the world.

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You can find out more about crustaceans on this page: Crustaceans – The Ultimate Guide

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Crocodile

American Crocodile Close Up
American crocodile

Class: Reptilia

Order: Crocodylia

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia

Crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia.

Most species are not highly selective about their diet, consuming birds, fish, and other animals. They are known for their formidable strength, speed, and powerful jaws.

Large crocodile species, such as Africa’s Nile crocodile, Asia’s mugger crocodile, and North America’s American crocodile occasionally attack humans (although such attacks are extremely rare).

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American Crocodile Facts, Pictures & In-Depth Information

List Of Crocodiles In Africa: Pictures, Facts & Information

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Dragonfly

Dragonfly
Male golden-ringed dragonfly, Cordulegaster boltonii

Class: Insecta

Order: Odonata

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Dragonflies are large, predatory insects characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and elongated bodies.

They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as nymphs, are aquatic.

Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world and are valued as predators that help control populations of harmful insects. They are also often seen as a symbol of environmental health due to their sensitivity to pollution.

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Duck

Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis, a North American species

Class: Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Ducks are common and widespread waterfowl known for their ability to walk on land and swim in water. They have a broad, flat beak and a body shape that allows for efficient swimming.

Ducks can be found in both saltwater and freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, and rivers. Their diet varies widely and includes aquatic plants, small fish, insects, and invertebrates.

“Dabbling ducks” are known for their feeding behavior of submerging their heads while on the surface. “Diving ducks” swim under the water while foraging.

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Flamingo

greater flamingo
Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Class: Aves

Order: Phoenicopteriformes

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Parts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe

Flamingos are a type of wading bird known for their distinctive pink coloration and long, thin legs. They are usually found in large flocks and inhabit alkaline or saline lakes, lagoons, and estuarine environments.

Flamingos have a unique feeding style: they invert their beaks in the water to filter-feed on small organisms, and it is these organisms that provide the pigments that give flamingos their pink color.

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Greater Flamingo Facts, Pictures & Information

You can find out more about birds on this page: Birds – The Ultimate Guide

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Freshwater Eel

European Eel

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Scientific Name: Anguillidae (family)

Where Found: Worldwide

Freshwater eels are elongated fish found in rivers, lakes, and other freshwater bodies across the globe. They have smooth, scaleless skin known for producing a large amount of slime. In some parts of the world, freshwater eels are harvested for food.

Most species of freshwater eels are migratory, being born in the ocean and making their way into freshwater habitats. Here they spend most of their lives, before migrating back to the sea to breed.

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Freshwater Snail

Florida Applesnail Freshwater snail

Class: Gastropoda

Order: Various, depending on species

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Freshwater snails are gastropod mollusks that inhabit a range of freshwater environments, from tiny puddles to large lakes. They have coiled shells and a foot for locomotion.

Many species of freshwater snails are algae grazers, playing a crucial role in limiting algal blooms and contributing to the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. Some species are known to host parasitic diseases, posing significant health risks in some regions.

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Frog

European common frog
European Common Frog

Class: Amphibia

Order: Anura

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Frogs are tailless amphibians that typically have a short body, protruding eyes, and strong, webbed hind feet adapted for leaping and swimming.

Frogs are extremely diverse and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including lakes, ponds, and rivers. They play important roles in the ecosystem as both predators and prey, eating pests such as mosquitoes, and being food for birds, fish, and other animals.

Well-known frog species include North America’s American bullfrog and Europe’s common frog.

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Heron

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Class: Aves

Order: Pelecaniformes

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds. They have a sharp bill that they use for spear fishing. Known for their patient hunting strategy, herons can often be seen standing silently along the water’s edge, waiting for prey to come into range. They are most often found in wetlands but can inhabit a wide range of habitats both near and far from water.

Examples of herons include the grey heron of Eurasia, and the great blue heron, found in North America.

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Kingfisher

Kingfisher
Common kingfisher

Class: Aves

Order: Coraciiformes

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Kingfishers are a family (Alcedinidae) of small to medium-sized birds with bright coloration, large heads, and long, pointed bills.

There are three main groups of kingfishers: river kingfishers, water kingfishers and tree kingfishers. Whereas most river and tree kingfishers are specialized fish eaters, tree kingfishers (including the kookaburras) are not, and are often found away from water.

River and water kingfishers typically hunt by diving into the water from a perch. The belted kingfisher is a water kingfisher widespread in North America; the common kingfisher, a river kingfisher, is a familiar sight near lakes and rivers in Europe.

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Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Acipenseriformes

Scientific Name: Acipenser fulvescens

Where Found: North America

The lake sturgeon is a large freshwater fish species native to North America, found primarily in the Mississippi River basin, Great Lakes, and Hudson Bay. It is among the oldest and largest freshwater fish species.

Lake sturgeon have a unique appearance with an elongated body, a pointed snout, and rows of bony plates instead of typical scales. They are bottom dwellers and feed on a variety of small organisms, including insects, crustaceans, and small fish.

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Lake Trout

Lake Trout

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Salmoniformes

Scientific Name: Salvelinus namaycush

Where Found: North America

The lake trout is a freshwater fish species in the salmon family (Salmonidae) native to Northern North America, principally in cold, oxygen-rich lakes. It is a large fish, often growing to significant sizes in lake habitats.

Lake trout are predatory, feeding on other fish species, and are known for their slow growth rate and long lifespan. Due to their preference for cold waters, lake trout populations are often vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

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Loon

Common Loon / Great Northern Diver
Common loon (known as the great northern diver in the UK)

Class: Aves

Order: Gaviiformes

Scientific Name: Gavia (genus)

Where Found: North America, Greenland, Northern Europe, and Asia

Loons are a group (the genus Gavia) of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia (where they are known as divers). They are characterized by their pointed bills, red eyes, and distinctive black and white markings.

Loons are excellent divers and catch their prey, which mainly consists of fish, underwater. Their haunting and melodious calls, especially their night-time calls, are a distinctive aspect of northern wilderness areas.

Loons are migratory, nesting by northern freshwater lakes and flying south to overwinter in coastal waters.

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Mayfly

Mayfly

Class: Insecta

Order: Ephemeroptera

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Mayflies are delicate, short-lived insects found around the world, particularly near bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. They are unique among insects in that they molt once again after growing wings.

While their adult lifespan often lasts just a few hours to a few days, mayflies spend the majority of their life in their aquatic larval stage, where they serve as a vital food source for a variety of freshwater organisms.

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Mink

American Mink

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Scientific Name: Neovison vison (American mink), Mustela lutreola (European mink)

Where Found: North America, Europe

Mink are small, semi-aquatic mammals that are known for their lustrous and thick fur. They inhabit areas with abundant water bodies such as marshes, lakes, and rivers.

Mink are carnivorous and have a diverse diet which includes fish, crustaceans, and small mammals. They are agile swimmers and often dive for their prey.

The American mink is an invasive species in the UK, its population having become established after animal rights activists released captive animals (bred for the fur industry) into the wild. The species’ presence has had a negative effect on the native water vole, and may lead to the smaller species’ extinction in the UK.

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Moorhen

Common Moorhen
Common Moorhen

Class: Aves

Order: Gruiformes

Scientific Name: Gallinula chloropus

Where Found: Worldwide

Moorhens are waterbirds belonging to the rail family, Rallidae. They have a blackish plumage, a red and yellow beak, and long, green legs.

Found in marshes, ponds, and lakes around the world, moorhens are omnivores that feed on a variety of plant material, insects, and small aquatic creatures.

Familiar species of moorhen include the Common gallinule, found in North America, and the common moorhen, found in Eurasia and Africa.

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Northern Pike

Northern Pike

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Esociformes

Scientific Name: Esox lucius

Where Found: North America, Europe, and Northern Asia

The northern pike is a large species of carnivorous fish found in freshwater habitats in the northern hemisphere.

Known for its elongated body and distinctive, duck-like snout, the northern pike is a voracious predator. It preys on a wide variety of organisms, from small invertebrates to fish and small waterfowl.

The pike’s aggressive nature and fighting spirit make it a popular target for freshwater anglers.

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Otter

North American river otter
North American river otter

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Otters are semi-aquatic mammals known for their playful behavior and adept swimming abilities. They belong to the weasel family, Mustelidae, and are found mostly in freshwater environments. (The marine otter and sea otter are exceptions; both being found in marine habitats.)

Otters have sleek, streamlined bodies, fully webbed feet, and long, strong tails. They are primarily fish eaters but will also consume various amphibians, crustaceans, and mollusks.

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Salamanders & Newts

alpine newt
Alpine Newt Mesotriton alpestris

Class: Amphibia

Order: Caudata

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide, but primarily in the Northern Hemisphere

Aquatic salamanders and newts are amphibians found in lakes, rivers, and other freshwater bodies throughout the world. They are noted for their slender bodies, long tails, and the ability to regenerate lost body parts.

Some species of salamanders are entirely aquatic throughout their lives, while others may split their time between aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

Newts are a group of mainly semiaquatic salamanders belonging to the subfamily Pleurodelinae.

One of the best-known examples of an aquatic salamander is the axolotl, a Mexican species that is critically endangered in the wild.

Sirens are a group of aquatic salamanders found in North America. They have eel-like bodies, external gills and lack hind limbs.

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Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Trumpeter Swan

Class: Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Scientific Name: Cygnus (genus)

Where Found: Worldwide

Swans are large, graceful waterfowl known for their long, curved necks and often pure white plumage. They are usually found near bodies of water such as lakes and ponds, and are present in temperate regions worldwide.

Swans feed in the water and on land, consuming a variety of plant matter and small aquatic animals. They are known for their monogamous pair bonds and often mate for life.

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Turtle

Florida Softshell Turtle
Florida Softshell Turtle

Order: Testudines

Scientific Name: Various, depending on species

Where Found: Worldwide

Turtles are reptiles characterized by a hard protective shell known as a carapace. They inhabit a broad range of environments and are found in all but the coldest regions of the world.

While some turtles are terrestrial, many species are at home in freshwater habitats such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. They feed on a variety of foodstuffs including plants, insects, and small aquatic animals.

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Walleye

Walleye Fish

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Scientific Name: Sander vitreus

Where Found: North America

The walleye is a large, freshwater perciform fish native to North America. Named for its distinctive, pearlescent eyes, the walleye is a prized game fish and a popular food fish.

A predatory species, the walleye feeds on smaller fish and aquatic invertebrates. Walleyes prefer cooler waters and are often found in deeper areas of lakes and large rivers.

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Water Boatman

Water Boatman

Class: Insecta

Order: Hemiptera

Scientific Name: Corixidae (family)

Where Found: Worldwide

Water boatmen are a group of freshwater insects known for their distinctive boat-shaped bodies and oar-like hind legs, which they use for swimming. They are found in a variety of aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds, and streams.

Unusually among aquatic insects, some water boatmen species are primarily herbivorous, feeding on algae and other aquatic plants, although some species are known to be predatory.

Similar in appearance and habitat choice to water boatmen are the backswimmers – a group of aquatic insects named for their upside-down swimming style.

Confusingly, backswimmers in the UK are known as water boatmen.

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You can find out more about insects on this page: Insects – The Ultimate Guide

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