58 Animals That Live in a Lake: Names, Pics, Identification Charts, Fresh vs Salt

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Animals | June 8, 2023

Man looking at a body of water lake wonders if there is a animals that live in a lake guide that explains lake vs pond, what is a lake and provides pictures of animals that live in lakes including dangerous freshwater animals and fish.

Do you know the animals that live in a lake?There’s probably more than you ever considered.

But before you jump into a lake for a swim, making sure it’s safe (and that you won’t impact the ecosystem) is easy if you know which types of animals that call it home.

Some of the animals that live in a lake are dangerous, but most are harmless to humans.

Knowing what animals live in a lake can help ensure that your outdoor fun is both enjoyable and educational, when you are able to spot these interesting habitats.

What Is a Lake? Salt Water Vs Freshwater

Lakes are common yet undeniably breathtaking phenomena found all over the world.23

For most people lakes are regular water bodies similar to rivers and streams, however, they are marvelous in their own way and have a wide range of ecosystems.

They are unique water bodies that are habitats to many plants and animals but what is a lake really?

Wide shot of a lake with pine trees and mountains in the background during daytime.

(Image: Hugo L. Casanova26)

Lakes are water bodies surrounded by land masses. While rivers flow from water sources called head water and end up in seas, lakes on the other hand are slow-moving or standing.1

They lack fast-moving currents. You would be surprised to know that the world has millions of lakes and they often have a magnificent view surrounded by other flora and fauna such as desert plains and mountain ranges.

Lakes are found on every continent globally. You can find them in mountainous terrain, deserts, plains, and seashores.

You should know that there is no fixed definition that explains a lake. However, all lakes have certain features that can help differentiate and identify them from other water bodies.

It’s important to note that lakes do not share the same depth and size. Some lakes are so huge you cannot see the end while others are much smaller though the latter should not be confused with ponds.

Lake Baikal, found in Russia is known as the deepest lake in the world measuring 5,387 feet or 1.65 kilometers deep.

Some great lakes in North America include:

  • Lake Michigan
  • Lake Superior
  • Lake Erie
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Ontario

These five lakes extend from 192 to 351 miles and measure up to 1,335 feet deep. Although lakes have a wide range of depth, diameter and length, they share the same unique features that distinguish them from other water bodies.

These features include:

1. They Are Water Filled Inland Depressions

First, you must know how a lake is formed. They are water filled inland depressions.

These depressions are found on the earth’s surface and they are often called basins. The basins are a result of various earth processes, they could be volcanic craters, abandoned river parts, glacial imprints left through moving glaciers etc.

The most common way of forming lakes is changes in plate tectonics. This happens when the crust of the earth moves and creates faults which form natural basins or depression on the land.

These basins or depressions are then filled with water through flowing streams or rainfall.

The main feature of a lake is that it’s an inland water filled basin which is enclosed and surrounded by land. Since the landmass confines it, it does not flow like streams and rivers.

However, some lakes are open where water flows to the sea. The lakes have outlets above or below the surface of the water which remove or add water to the lake.2

Some lakes don’t have these outlets and water can only be lost through evaporation.

2. A Lake Is a Slow-Moving Standing Body of Water

The simplest way of identifying a lake is through the movement of its water. Scientists consider lakes as lentic ecosystems characterized by slow-moving, standing, or still water.

Streams and rivers move continuously from their sources to their mouths connecting them to the sea. Compared to rivers, lakes are calmer and do not have currents or waves.

Green grass field near a lake under a blue sky during daytime.

(Image: Marco Czollmann26)

On windless days, lakes seem motionless. They only show movement if outside forces like wind are applied to them.

On the other hand, streams and rivers continue to flow even without outside influences.

To the naked eye, it may seem like a lake is still or stagnant. Scientists explain that they are not still, rather they are slow moving.

The main forces that influence slow water movement on lakes are caused by:

These forces drive the water to move within the lake.

3. Lakes Have Vast Surface Areas

Identifying and defining a lake gets trickier when you try and characterize them by depth. Lakes have varying depth measurements.

Some can be walked through on foot while others are kilometers deep. However, one thing is certain, each lake has a wide surface area.

The surface diameter of the lake helps you recognize it even from afar. All lakes cover a wide surface and while some are just a meter deep they are still lakes due to the vast area they cover.

On average lakes can take up to 5 acres or 2 hectares to 20 acres or 8 hectares.

Research estimates that about 4,200,000 square kilometers of the total surface of the earth is covered with lakes.3 This however represents less than 1% of the earth.

The four Great Lakes in Canada and the United States make up a large ratio of this entire surface area. Slow moving freshwater habitats that are small may be mistaken as lakes but they are usually classified as ponds.

4. Lakes Are Habitats to Complex Ecosystems

While the ocean and seas are home to many marine creatures including animals and plants, some aquatic life can only live in freshwater. Lakes are habitats to complex ecosystems and this is one of their unique and specific characteristics.

Animals that live in a lake vary and similarly, the plants are diverse. Each lake has its own complex ecosystem where creatures have different needs and require certain environmental conditions to survive.

The marine biodiversity and types of fish living in a water body can also help determine whether it’s a lake or not. Lakes are conducive habitats for freshwater fish and can foster marine life throughout the year even when the temperature is as cold as -40 Degrees Celsius.

For example, the trout is a fish that loves cold temperatures and has evolved in deep lake ecosystems.

One way of classifying lakes is by identifying the fish that live in them. Fishermen rely on the nature and type of lake to help them determine what fish they can find in the ecosystem.

For example, a lake that has muddy, thick, residue indicates that there’s an abundance of catfish.

5. Most Lakes Are Freshwater but Some Can Be a Little Salty

Lakes are characterized as freshwater bodies. Most lakes are freshwater but some can be a little salty.

It’s good to note that even freshwater lakes have some salt content. However, salt water lakes have more salt deposits than others.

These lakes are called salt or saline lakes. One example is the Caspian Sea, which is considered the largest lake.

Satellite image of the Caspian Sea.

(Image: WikiImages25)

These lakes are landlocked and have no water outlet that connects them to the sea. Since they do not flow towards other water bodies, the salt minerals or salt deposits originating from water flowing into the lake remain there and this increases the salinity of the lake.

The Dead Sea,15 which is actually a lake, is the most popular Salt Lake. This name originated from the inability of the lake to host aquatic organisms such as plants, fish and other microscopic organisms because of its incredibly salty water.

The salinity of the dead sea is eight times more than sea water and it’s so dense that you can literally float.

Animals That Live in a Lake: Freshwater vs Saltwater Lakes

There are few differences when you compare freshwater vs saltwater lakes. Chances are, you are most familiar with freshwater lakes.

It’s more than likely that the lake closest to you is a freshwater lake. As mentioned previously, each lake has salt deposits but some have more than others.

A freshwater lake has minor amounts of dissolved salts less than 1-3g/l while salt lakes have more than 3-300g/l.4

Saltwater lakes are often found in surroundings where water can only leave the lake through seepage into the ground or evaporation. This evaporation causes the salt and other chemicals to concentrate in the water over time.

Although most rivers and freshwater lakes drain into the ocean, saline lakes can be formed as the endpoint to river flow. These lakes are called endorheic and this means terminal.

They are sometimes called inland seas. An endorheic lake usually forms because it’s at the lowest landscape point and it’s found in basins all over the world.

Some common endorheic lakes are:

  • Caspian Sea (Eurasia)
  • Mono Lake (California)
  • The Great Salt Lake (Utah)
  • The Dead Sea (Israel/Jordan)

Saltwater lakes such as the Great Salt Lake host many types of organisms. However, some saline lakes are too salty to be a habitat to anything but algae.

Even so, lakes such as Great Salt Lake are homes to crustaceans such as brine shrimp. The water in the lakes and their shores are also home to mammals, amphibians, and different types of birds such as waterfowl and shorebirds.

Saltwater lakes are important mineral sources and often hold great cultural significance. Such a lake is sensitive to changes in climate.

Because there is a high evaporation rate in areas where these inland seas are located, even a small reduction in precipitation can reduce their size drastically. This reduction in size is brought about by reduced inputs of fresh water.

As a result, salinity concentration increases, changing the biota and decreasing the biodiversity.

The Difference Between Lake vs Pond

There’s an easy way to tell the difference between a lake vs pond. First, you should know that both ponds and lakes are slow-moving or standing water bodies.

There’s no scientific or official difference between a lake and a pond. The main difference is that lakes are larger than ponds though size is relative.

What would be considered a small lake in a region might be considered a pond in another because size is relative. In general water bodies that are classified as lakes in dry areas can be considered as ponds in regions that have abundant water resources and where there are larger water bodies.

A pond with waterfall and some trees on its edges.

(Image: dimitrisvetsikas196926)

Even though there’s no official distinguishing characteristics, you can use several questions to differentiate ponds from lakes:

  • Is the bottom of the water body’s deepest point reached by light?
  • Does the water body get small waves only (smaller than 1ft/30cm in height)?
  • Does the water body have a relatively uniform temperature?

If all the answers to these three questions are ‘yes,’ then the water body is a pond and not a lake.

People often overlook ponds as biodiversity sources and habitats. However, they play an important role in the landscape.

Many kinds of creatures and organisms spend all or part of their lives in pond habitats. They function as important breeding grounds and homes to the animals.

Amphibians spend their juvenile or younger stages in ponds as do several insects. Some ponds such as vernal pools are temporary and have water during a certain part of the year.

However, these ponds are still full of life and are homes to organisms such as salamanders, faerie shrimp, and wood frog tadpoles among others. At the same time some are inundated with water.

Ponds also serve a crucial function as being a stopover spot for birds that are migrating. These spots provide places to rest as well as food sources for migrating waterfowl.

These are just some functions of ponds but they pale in comparison to lakes.

What Animals Live in a Lake?

A lake plays an important role in the water cycle.

It acts as a water reservoir and can release the water into the atmosphere in the form of evaporation. And many animals, like the Eastern Box Turtle make their homes nearby.

Close up of an Eastern Box Turtle with vivid, orange and yellow markings on its dark brown shell on a grass surface.

Its home to various animal and plant life and most lakes worldwide are important destinations to tourists. Lakes host different kinds of animals including:

  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Fish

These animals keep lakes healthy and clean. They eat algae as well as other aquatic plants which helps control their growth.

The animals also aerate the water and make sure its continuously moving, preventing it from becoming stagnant.

Lake Habitats: Lake Ecosystem Animals

While some animals spend their whole lives in a lake, others use it to raise their young and mate. As such, lakes are critical ecosystems and host diverse wildlife.

First, lakes are a consistent water source which is an essential quality for supporting life. Second, these lakes are full of animal and plant life and this provides ample food opportunities.

Third, lakes are safer compared to other habitats. The water is a barrier that a predator needs to cross to reach its prey.

Which is why most lakes are homes to thriving groups of small animals. Lastly lakes habitats come with different characteristics that are suitable for a wide range of species depending on their needs.

All these show that lake ecosystem animals have an ideal life.

Fourth, lakes provide oxygen for the animals that live in them. Lake ecosystems help in carbon sequestration which improves the quality of life of animals that depend on them.

If you are wondering, do fish produce CO2, yes they do, during respiration. The algae in lakes is not only good for food, it helps store carbon in the water bodies.5

What’s an Amphibian?

Amphibians are among the animals that live in a lake,24 but what’s an amphibian? These are vertebrate animals featured by their abilities to use both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

Close up of a frog with its bulging eyes, long hind legs, webbed toes and green smooth skin swimming in a body of water.

(Image: Alexas_Fotos14)

While some species of amphibian are permanent land dwellers, most of them need to be around a water body to live.

Some examples of amphibians include:

  • Caecilians
  • Salamanders
  • Newts
  • Toads
  • Frogs

Most amphibians have several unique traits, they have moist skin and rely on their skin-surface for respiration. They have a double-channeled hearing system.

They also have green rods in their retinas to differentiate hues and have two-part (pedicellate) teeth.

58 Animals That Live in a Lake: Characteristics of Animals That Live in a Lake

There are several reasons why animals live in a lake or around the lakeside. Some animals consider the lake their natural habitat while others go there to raise young ones or mate.

Other animals find their food in lakes and some others use lakes to hide from predators. These creatures have a wide range of characteristics that help them adapt to their habitats.

Animals That Live in Water and Land

Animals that live in water and land are called semi-aquatic animals. The most common types of semi-aquatic animals are amphibians though some mammals and reptiles are in this group too.6

Semi-aquatic animals are partly or primarily terrestrial but spend a lot of time swimming or otherwise occupied in a body of water.18 They spend either part of their life cycle in water or spend part of their day in the water as an essential behavior.

Animals That Live in Lakes: Freshwater Animals

Freshwater accounts for about 3% of the world’s water. Much of this water is frozen in the form of glaciers and polar ice caps.

The amount of earth’s fresh water that is able to support life is very small, in fact, only 0.014% of all earth’s water is fresh water in the form of swamps, lakes and rivers. This minute portion of water is critically important for earth’s life.

For example, two fifths of all fish species are found in fresh water despite the fact that 97% of earth’s water is salt water found in oceans and seas. Most insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals need freshwater to survive.

Animals That Live in a Lake: Saltwater Animals

Many animals live in saltwater; they include sharks, fish, manatees, turtles and crocodiles. A few fish species that reside in a saltwater environment include:

  • Pufferfish
  • Jaw fish
  • The Grouper
  • Moray Eels
  • Clownfish
  • Boxfish
  • Blue Devil
  • Angelfish
  • Achilles tang

These animals are able to live in saltwater because their bodies have different ways of getting rid of the extra salt found in saline water. They have a salt gland that secretes the salty water or specialized gill cells that they use to absorb the salt.

Additionally, some animals do not live in the salt water per se, but survive on the other animals and plants that exist in salt water. One example is the raccoon.

It will eat gulf crabs, shellfish, mollusks and other small animals that live in the water.

Pictures of Animals That Live in a Lake

If you live close to a lake, you may have encountered several strange animals that you do not know the name of.Many of these creatures make their homes near lakes, and thrive from the food and water found there.

Here are some pictures of animals that live in a lake.

1. Spiders

Spiders are some types of arachnids that are found worldwide and this includes lakes. The ones found on lakes are extremely adapted to aquatic habitats.

Most do not live in the lakes but survive by eating the insects that live in the lake.

Close up image of a brown spider on a web with its eight long legs and markings on its abdomen.

(Image: Dev Leigh26)

Some of the spiders live entirely underwater; they include the fishing spider and the diving bell spider.

Most spiders are carnivorous. They use invisible webs to trap their prey.

Spiders that live in lake regions eat insects and other spiders.

2. American Bittern

The American bittern is a type of carnivorous bird found in Canada and the United States.11 The American bittern is a bird species that is under the heron family.

Close up of an American bittern with its long, straight, dagger-like bill, dark brown upper part, wings and white throat standing on a lumber above water.

(Image: Syed Ahmad26)

Their natural habitats are marshes and vegetation around ponds and lakes. They live close to these water bodies to get food.

Their diet includes insects, crustaceans, and fish found in the ponds and lakes.

3. Water Boatman

These are herbivorous insects found worldwide. The name ‘Water Boatmen’ is a collective term used to describe a family of aquatic insects called Corixidae.

Close up of a light brown Water Boatman with its flat back with several narrow, dark, parallel cross lines on a sandy surface.

(Image: Bj.schoenmakers27)

There are about 500 species in this family. They are different from other insects because of their aquatic nature.

Their main food is algae and plants.

4. Scud

The scud is an omnivorous crustacean found worldwide. It’s also called side swimmers, freshwater shrimp or Amphipoda.

Close up of white scud with its shrimp-like form in a black background.

(Image: jidanchaomian28)

These crustaceans can be found in most water habitats including freshwater and saltwater lakes. There are over 9,900 species.

They mostly eat detritus as well as fungi, bacteria and live algae.

Close up of a Julien’s Golden Carp with its golden body scales and its yellowish to orange head and fins on a Styrofoam surface

(Image: vi:User:Amicecorp27)

5. Julien’s Golden Carp

This is an omnivorous fish found in Southeast Asia. This type of fish originated from China and can be found in several parts of Southeast Asia such as Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

It’s an endangered species due to several factors such as over fishing. It’s among the animals that will be extinct in the future.

They feed on aquatic plants along with prawns and shellfish. Their style of feeding depends on the season.

If there’s more food the Golden Carp will eat more and vice versa.

6. Lake Herring

This is a carnivorous fish found in the great lakes. The lake herring is mostly found in Europe and North America.

Close up of lake herrings and their blue-green upper body with silvery sides.

(Image: andreas16057825)

It has other names such as Northern cisco, tubilee, chub, and cisco.6 This fish is considered a species of freshwater whitefish found in North America.

It can also be found in the arctic ocean which is a saltwater habitat.

The fish feeds on young fish, plankton and insects. It’s also preyed upon by certain animals such as walleye, yellow perch, burbot, northern pike and the rainbow trout.

7. Lake Trout

The lake trout is a carnivorous fish found in deep,14 large lakes and it’s also called the gray trout, togue, lake char, namaycush, and mackinaw.

Lake trouts with their small yellow and dark, irregular shaped spots on their silvery-to-dark skins and deeply forked tails in a aquarium.

(Image: Sara Kurfeß26)

They take a lot of time to fully mature and they are a huge target of commercial fishing. They are very susceptible to over fishing and are also a target of recreational fishing in lakes.

8. Lake Sturgeon

This is a carnivorous fish found in North America, especially in the Great Lake. There are 25 sturgeon species found out there and this is the only one that’s considered a freshwater fish.

Lake sturgeon with its spade-like snouts with two pairs of whisker-like organs that dangle near its mouth, spindle-like body that is smooth-skinned and scaleless in a aquarium.

(Image: Hans25)

They feed on various prey such as insects and fish. The type of prey they feed on depends on several factors such as choice of habitat.

9. Mayfly

These are omnivorous insects found worldwide. They are also called fish flies and shad flies.

The mayfly is a general term that groups some species of aquatic insects. Their features are similar to dragonflies and damselflies.

Close up of a mayfly with its dark, transparent wings, and dark brown, long, thin abdomen perched on a grass leaf.

(Image: Erik Karits)

The world has over 3,000 mayfly species grouped into 400 genera.7 They get their nutrients from both animals and plants. They usually eat as nymphs as adults only live for one day.

10. Mink

These are carnivorous rodents found mostly in North America. They are semiaquatic and have the same family as ferrets, weasels, and otters.

A brown mink on the edge of a rocky surface close to a body of water.

(Image: John_Nature_Photos25)

Minks have two species, the American and the European mink. They have a 10-year lifespan but those in the wild only live up to 3 years.

These rodents are strong predators and feed on meat, sometimes they may eat their young ones. They are not primarily cannibals though, they feed on eggs, birds, fish and small mammals.

11. Long-Tailed Duck

This is a carnivorous bird found in Northern Canada. It’s also called the old-squaw duck.

Long-tailed duck with its white body with brownish-black markings, and elongated tails swimming in a body of water.

(Image: Tyler Jamieson Moulton26)

Its main habitats include lakes, marshes, pools and other water bodies. Their population has decreased over the years and they are considered endangered species.

These long-tailed ducks hunt for their prey by diving for it. They eat small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

12. Opossum Shrimp

These creatures are found right at the bottom of the lake so the chances of seeing them on the surface are very low. They can be found in both freshwater and salt water as long as there are suitable habitats.

Close up of an orange opossum shrimp in a black background.

(Image: Hans Hillewaert29)

Most of the species live in sea water though some can be found in freshwater. These shrimps feed on invertebrates, plants, insects and algae.

Otter with its brown fur and long tail resting on a flat rock surface.

(Image: lovelooking25)

13. Otter

The otter is a carnivorous rodent found worldwide.20 There are three kinds of otters; marine, aquatic, and semi-aquatic otters.

They are related to weasels and badgers which are part of the same family.

Otters feed mainly on fishes but can eat birds, mammals, crayfish, frogs and crabs. They love breaking the shells of shellfish.

14. Painted Turtle

These are omnivorous reptiles found in Southern Canada and the United States. The painted turtle is one of the most unusual turtles and reptiles.

Close up of Painted turtle's head with black and yellow stripes skin, and red markings on its shell.

(Image: 63137225)

It earned its name because of different skin colors that look like strokes of paint.8 The species is very old and has existed for millions of years.

They are aquatic animals and live in slow-moving freshwater such as lakes. They eat vegetation, algae, fish, insects and crustaceans.

Though they are often prey to other animals, it’s difficult to feed on an adult painted turtle because of their shells.

15. Perch

This is a carnivorous fish found in the United States, Canada, and Europe. There are three kinds of perch: the yellow perch, the Balkhash perch and the European perch.

Focused shot of a hand holding a brownish perch on its mouth.

(Image: Jeff Vanderspank26)

They live at the bottom of the water, somewhere between 26 and 36 feet. They eat insect larvae, smaller fish and shellfish.

Their habitats should include plenty of insects and fish as well as plants where they can lay and hide their eggs from predators.

16. Salmon

Salmon is a very common edible fish and many people who eat fish love it. Its main habitat is standing freshwater such as ponds and lakes.

Salmon with its brown to silver colored body. leaping out of water.

(Image: 805260125)

It’s part of the family Salmonidae with other types of fishes such as grayling, whitefish, char and trout. It’s an omnivore that feeds on vegetation and other fish.

They have a tragic reproductive style, where the female and male die after mating as a result of movements and other processes.

17. Ring-Billed Gulls

These are North American omnivorous birds. They make their homes in freshwater habitats.

They are often found in lakes, especially in islands where they can make their nests. They migrate a lot but do not abandon nesting sites.

A white ring-billed gull flying just above a large body of water.

(Image: lizzyliz25)

They feed on both animals and plants including earthworms, eggs, fish, grain and insects.

18. Greater Scaup

These are omnivorous birds found in Europe and North America. A few of them can be found in Siberia.

Close up of a greater scaup with its rounded head, bright yellow eyes, and a grayish-blue bill with a black tip, black chest and gray back swimming in a body of water.

(Image: TheOtherKev25)

It’s called a scaup or bluebill. They prefer living in habitats or other marshes.

They feed on aquatic plants, worms, fishes, crustaceans, clams, snails, insects and other small creatures. They are threatened by predators such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and owls.

19. Snapping Turtle

The snapping turtle is an omnivorous reptile found in many freshwater habitats such as ponds and lakes.12 This turtle is part of the Chelydra family and its scientific name is Serpentina because it has a snake-like head that protrudes from the shell.

Close up of a black snapping turtle with its snake-like head and its body covered in algae on a fallen tree trunk.

(Image: JackBulmer25)

The snapping turtle is the most common species among other turtle species. They have very few predators and tend to be at the top of the food chain in their habitats.

They eat amphibians, worms, fishes and other small creatures around the lake.

20. Snail

Snails are invertebrates found worldwide. They are classified as Gastropods and they are omnivorous.

Close up of a snail with its brown, spiral-shaped shell on a leaf.

(Image: Nennieinszweidrei25)

They are both land and water animals found in both saltwater and freshwater. They mostly eat at night when they are most active.

Their diets are vast ranging from slugs to decaying matter. Their common food includes insects, centipedes, slugs, lichens and fungi.

A fish hook and a walleye with its dark green back and golden yellow sides on a wooden platform.

(Image: VesaL25)

21. Walleye

These are types of carnivorous fish found in most lakes. They are also called yellow pickerel or yellow pike.

This is an edible fish and is a common part of Canadian cuisine. They are fished both commercially and for recreation.

Fortunately, there’s enough regulations to preserve the population. They are nocturnal which means they are active after sunset. They hunt down crustaceans and smaller fishes.

22. Lake Whitefish

These are carnivorous fish commonly found in Asia, Europe and North America. Their habitats are freshwater bodies and they are mostly found in cool waters.

A school of lake whitefish with its dark brown on the back fading to silvery sides in a green container full of water.

(Image: Seb95130)

They live in lakes but most of them are found in fast moving waters. They are also called Gizzard fish, or Otsego bass.

They are carnivores right from the larva stage. They start by feeding on plankton then grow to eat animals such as larvae, snails, and zebra mussels.

23. Zebra Mussel

These are herbivorous mollusks that are found worldwide. Initially, they used to live in Ukraine and Russia but over time they spread to the rest of the world either by accident or invasion.

Close up of zebra mussel with its triangular, brownish shells covered in zebra-like stripes.

(Image: Bj.schoenmakers27)

That’s how it got to the Hudson River, Lake Travis, and the Great Lake. The zebra mussel eats plankton and other particles that are filtered out of the water through their mouth.

They are known as filter feeders because of this. They are often prey to other aquatic creatures.

24. Frogs

These are omnivorous amphibians found worldwide. They are mostly found around freshwater bodies such as lakes.9

Close up of a green frog with its light blue belly, blue legs, orange feet and bright red eyes on a banana leaf.

(Image: 1201925)

They come in many different kinds of species. Examples include:

  • Bullfrogs
  • Green frogs
  • Pickerel frogs
  • Spring peepers
  • Leopard frogs

When frogs are young they are herbivores but as they grow, they turn carnivorous. They use their tongues to trap insects.

The tongues are sticky and hold on to their prey. They also impale prey using their poisonous skin and they are great at camouflage.

25. Chinook Salmon

This is an omnivorous fish found in Alaska and California. Its name originated from the Chinookan people.

It’s considered the biggest Pacific salmon in North America. Its other names are Blackmouth, Tyee salmon, Tsumen, Quinnat salmon and King salmon.

A chinook salmon with blue-green head and back, irregular black spots on its tail, back, and upper fin held by a fisherman on its body and tail in a shallow body of water.

(Image: PublicDomainImages25)

It lives in both lakes and oceans. The species has been introduced in other areas such as New Zealand.

Many fishermen love it because of its flesh. As such, the population of the species is endangered.

26. Deepwater Sculpin

The Deep Water Sculpin is a carnivorous mollusk found in Arkansas and Missouri.19 It lives at the bottom of the lake.

An orange deepwater sculpin with its flattened head, large frog-like mouth and eyes, a scaleless body, and large fan-shaped pectoral fins in a white plastic container.

(Image: Kindel Media26)

Therefore, it’s hard to find. As a result, very little is known about this creature.

There’s no information about their reproductive cycle or how they mate. However, it’s verified that they are carnivores that feed on larvae and crustaceans.

They are also threatened by deep water trout.

27. Muscovy Ducks

This is an omnivorous duck found in many parts worldwide. It is native to South and North America though not endemic to those areas.

Close up and focused shot of a black and white Muscovy duck with its long beak that slopes smoothly up to its forehead and red caruncles around their beak and eye region.

(Image: truller25)

It can also be found in Australia, Europe and New Zealand. They prefer living in grasslands, farm crops, streams, swamps and lakes.

Most of them are also domesticated. One major characteristic of the Muscovy Duck is that they are very territorial and get very aggressive with their living quarters.

The males usually fight for rights to mate and territories. The females are not quite as territorial.

28. Flamingoes

Flamingoes are omnivorous birds found worldwide. They are among the most beautiful birds globally with very bright feathers that are often white, orange, red or pink.

A group of pink flamingoes with their slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails in a shallow body of water.

(Image: BarbeeAnne25)

You can find four flamingo species in South and North America. Asia, Africa and Europe have two more species which add up to 6 flamingo species across the continents.

Flamingoes have distinctive beaks that curve downwards and long thin legs. These two features help them navigate in shallow water as they feed on aquatic plants or hunt for fish.

They are mostly found around lakes.

Close up of two crayfishes with their red, segmented bodies, sharp snout, large claws and long antennae in a white background.

(Image: Ylvers25)

29. Crayfish

These are omnivorous crustaceans found worldwide. The crayfish are part of many cuisines and are found mostly in lakes.

They live under logs or rocks to evade predators. They come from the same families as lobsters and look like them sometimes

They feed on plants, animal carcasses, small fish and tadpoles. They also eat their own kind and other invertebrates.

30. Clam

These are omnivorous mollusks found worldwide. They live in both freshwater and saltwater.

Close up of a clam with its oval-shaped, brown hinged shells on a wood surface.

(Image: Theresamcgee25)

They eat animals, plants, plankton and algae. They are threatened by predators such as otters, seals, sea lions, and walruses.

They are also a great delicacy for humans and hold some significance in different religions and cultures.

31. Largemouth Bass

These are omnivorous fish found in North Mexico, Florida and North Carolina. This species is under the genus Black Bass.

A replica of a largemouth bass with its dark olive green back with light green sides shading to its white belly on a piece of wood mounted on a white wall.

(Image: paulbr7525)

It is native to North America and lives in water habitats such as lakes. Since the bass is omnivore, it eats plants and small animals such as hatchlings of alligators, water birds, bats, salamanders, snakes, frogs, snails, worms and insects.

32. Caddisfly

This is an omnivorous insect found worldwide. Caddisfly is an umbrella term for over 10,000 insect species.

Close up of a caddisfly with its hairy, brown wings, thin legs and long antennae on a granite tile surface.

(Image: 807054825)

The larvae are aquatic but when they grow up to mature adults, they become terrestrial. This is a common feature of amphibians and insects.

Most of their lives are spent in larvae form and they do not live to long as adults.

33. Catfish

Catfish have visible whiskers like cats which is how they got their name. These whiskers differentiate them from other fish though they are not found in all catfishes.

They are found in every continent except Antarctica.

Catfish with its long barbels, slender feelers extending from the corners of its mouth, brown scaleless body and its fan-like fins swimming at the bottom of a body of water surrounded by sea grasses.

(Image: Milos Prelevic26)

Their homes include freshwater habitats such as streams and lakes. They eat plants and animals such as insects and small fishes.

34. Beaver

Beavers are herbivorous rodents found in North America.21 While most rodents are terrestrial, beavers are among the few that can live in both water and land.

Close up of beaver with its brown fur on the edge of a rocky shore.

(Image: Tim Umphreys26)

It’s the second largest rodent worldwide, surpassed only by the capybara. The beavers come in two species: the North American Beaver, and the Eurasian Beaver.

They mostly live in lakes though some can be found in streams, rivers and ponds. They are very industrious animals and can be found building lodges, dams and usually display strong intelligence.

35. Axolotl

These are carnivorous reptiles found in North America. Salamanders come in different species and not all take to water.

Close up of axolotl with its albino cylindrical body, short legs, blunt snout and large mouth.

(Image: Mattias Banguese26)

The axolotl is a type of aquatic salamander. While other amphibians metamorphose, losing gills and starting to breathe air, the axolotls remain with gills.

They mostly live in lakes. They are critically endangered because they are prey to a wide range of predators.

36. Alligators

Alligators are categorized under two species that both live in lakes. The American alligator is common in the Southeast United States and the Chinese alligator that is native to China.

Top angle shot of a dark brown alligator showing the embedded bony plates on its back swimming in clear body of water.

(Image: Shelly Collins26)

Both alligators have similar appearances though the Chinese ones are much smaller. Alligators are found mostly in marshes and swamps and hove dark coloration that blends well into the surrounding.10

These predators are at the top of the food chain in a lake habitat, they feed on all other lake dwelling animals including large fish, turtles, crabs and bullfrogs.

Close up of a crocodile with its broad body, short legs, long snout and osteoderms on its back near a pond.

(Image: Rae Wallis26)

37. Freshwater Crocodiles

These are large carnivorous reptiles that are endemic to North Australia. They can be found in many parts of the world.

They are also the top of the food chain in their habitats and freshwater crocodiles feed on fish, crustaceans, reptiles, mammals and amphibians.

The freshwater crocodiles use a wide range of hunting skills for various prey. They can either sit and wait or stalk and ambush depending on the prey.

38. Swans

These herbivores are part of the family Anatidae. They have similar features to geese.

White swans with their graceful long, curved necks swimming along with some black ducks on a body of water.

(Image: Šárka Krňávková26)

They are found all over the world and are one of the largest birds. They are about 59 inches long and weigh up to 35 pounds.

They live around lakes and eat plants that grow in water. One major characteristic is that they are the only birds that have one mate for life.

39. Gar

These are long fish under the family Lepisosteidae. They have been around for tens of millions of years.

Gar with its elongated brown and spotted body, thick scales and long jaw swimming under water.

(Image: GraceHues Photography26)

They have sharp teeth and heterocercal tails. They are mostly found in North America and include subspecies such as Florida gars, spotted gars and alligator gars.

40. Egrets

These birds live in and around lakes. They have beautiful white feathers and are native to many parts of the globe.

Egret with its long black legs, white plumage, yellow feet, long dagger-like bills and a slender body walking along the shore.

(Image: akbarnemati25)

Each species has their own unique environment but most live and hunt in marshes, freshwater and saltwater lakes.

These are types of herons and usually have a wide range of sizes ranging from 2 feet to 3.3 feet. While most are white, some are red and pink.

41. Dragonflies

Like many other insects, dragonflies need water to survive. Their life cycle involves living partly in water and on land.

They are found in ponds, rivers, marshes and lakes. They are carnivorous and feed on other types of insects.

Dragonflies are known for their long abdomens.

Close up of an orange dragonfly and its long body with two narrow pairs of intricately veined, membranous wings.

(Image: kalai venthan gopal26)

42. Leech

Leeches are found in several freshwater lakes.22 They are parasitic creatures that depend on the blood of vertebrate animals.

Close up of dark brown leeches with its segmented, flattened bodies crawling on a person's palm.

(Image: Stones25)

There are around 650 species of leeches worldwide and each has its own lifespan and feeding habits. Some leeches eat fish, algae and decaying plant material.

Some live on lake beds feeding on animals at the lake bottom such as invertebrates and small fish.

43. Crickets

Crickets are examples of animals that live on the edges of lakes though they can be found close to other water bodies as well. They are nocturnal and feed on plants.

Close up of a brown cricket with its rounded head, long, thin antennae and large back legs on a wood surface.

(Image: Heiko Haller26)

You can always hear them sing at night when you get close to the bodies of water.

44. Great Diving Beetle

These are water beetles under the family Dytiscidae. They mostly occupy lakes and near other water bodies worldwide.

Close up of a blackish-green Great Diving Beetle with yellow border to its thorax and around its wing cases and thick fringe hairs on its back legs swimming under water.

(Image: Evanherk27)

Some of the species grow up to 1.9 inches long and most live in dense undergrowth. They lay their eggs in stagnant water.

The beetles feed on worms, larvae, tadpoles and other animals living in the lake.

Low angle shot of a brown bat with its furry body and spread out wings made of flexible skin membrane that extends between each long finger bones flying under the blue sky.

(Image: James Wainscoat26)

45. Bats

Bats do not necessarily live in water but they are found near lakes because of the feeding opportunities that water bodies offer.

You can find bats living near freshwater and saltwater lakes. However, they prefer living in forests that surround the source of water.

They usually roost in tree cavities during the day time and go out to hunt at night.

46. Lizard

These are a group of reptiles with varying species that are found in or around lakes. Some are found at the bottom of the lake while others are found on vegetative growth next to the lake.

Close up of a green lizard with its long body covered in leathery scales, toes with sharp claws, row of elongated scales running from the mid line of its neck down to its tails on a granite tile surface.

(Image: Selin Şahin26)

Lizards usually bask out of the water to absorb heat from the sun and keep warm. Most of them are carnivorous, feeding on insects and small animals.

47. Fiddler Crab

These crabs are smaller than regular crabs and do not grow beyond an inch long. They have very large claws whose main function is to attract mates.

Close up of a male fiddler crab showing its one large claw on a ground with dried leaves.

(Image: GabrielDouglas25)

The smaller claw is used for feeding. They are found in lakes and marshes in Asia and North America.

48. Newt

Newts are under the family Salamandridae. They grow up to a length of between 5 to 9 inches.

Close up of an orange newt with its lizard-shaped body, four legs and long tails in a rocky terrain.

(Image: Tyler Donaghy26)

They can be found in both saltwater and freshwater lakes as well as ponds and slow-moving streams. They can hold their breath underwater for long periods and some spend their whole lives in water.

As adults, they can also spend time on land. Their diets consist of worms, slugs, tadpoles, shrimps and aquatic insects.

49. Loon

Loons are aquatic birds and they are expert swimmers. Instead of the webbed feet you see in ducks, they have lobed feet.

Their bodies are shaped like a torpedo and this helps them go through water more easily.

Close up of a loon with its black head, neck, and white striping, checkering, and spotting on its back swimming in water.

(Image: krista26925)

They usually dive very deep to catch their prey. Their diet includes frogs, fish and eels.

50. Sea Lamprey

Lampreys are like leeches, they attach to other animals and feed on their blood. Once a lamprey finds a target, it will attach to it and feed on it for a couple of days.

Close up of sea lampreys with tubular, scaleless body, and suction-cup like mouth that has teeth arranged in concentric circles in a aquarium.

(Image: Fernando Losada Rodríguez31)

They are mainly found in the arctic and Atlantic oceans though some species are found in inland lakes. They prefer shallow areas full of plants, rocks and animals to prey on.

51. Northern Pike

This is a freshwater fish species with numerous nicknames such as pike and water wolf. They are native to North America and are found in Canada and Alaska.

Close up of a northern pike with its olive green body, white belly and duck-billed shaped snout held by a person on its body.

(Image: Kelly Sikkema26)

They are found in deep lakes and live in cold water. They are carnivorous and prey on other fish.

They are voracious feeders and if they are overpopulated in a certain water body, they will have stunted growth.

52. Eel

An eel is a creature with a snake-like body which can be found in rivers,13 lakes and marine waters all over the world. They eat leeches, worms, frogs, larvae, eggs, fish and insects.

Close up of an eel with its scaleless, elongated, worm-like body under a body of water near some reefs.

(Image: Wouter Naert26)

They are native to North America and Europe. They live in oceans but often migrate to freshwaters such as lakes and rivers to breed and reproduce.

They are part of many cuisines in different countries.

A brown pied-billed grebe with its thick silver bill, brown coloring on its neck and black wings swimming in a body of water.

(Image: Paul Crook26)

53. Pied-Billed Grebe

This is a carnivorous aquatic bird that feeds on frogs, fish and salamanders. They are migratory birds found in America and the Caribbean.

They hunt by diving for food. If they feel threatened, they will dive towards areas with dense vegetation.

54. Cormorant

These omnivorous birds are some kind of water-fowl that live near rivers and lakes or by the sea coast. They have long hooked bills and long legs.

Comorants with their black feathers, lean bodies, long necks, black legs, and hooked bill on a rock above the water surface.

(Image: Romina BM26)

They are mostly black and are found in Africa, Europe and North America. They are excellent divers and swimmers and will go after fish by plunging into the water from a height.

They can go as far as 150 feet underwater to catch fish.

55. Goose

The classic goose lives near water sources including lakes, ponds and rivers. They are really great swimmers.

A white goose with its white feathers and yellow beak spreading out its wings while swimming in a body of water.

(Image: Shirish Suwal26)

They eat animals like insects, crustaceans, mollusks and plants near the water edge. They can be found worldwide but the highest populations are in North America and Europe.

56. Pond Skater

These are insects that are found near water. They are great jumpers and can go as high as three times their body length.

Pond skaters with their thin, brownish-grey bodies, thin legs and small heads with large eyes standing on a water surface.

(Image: Enrico Mevius27)

They feed on larvae and other small invertebrates. They are found everywhere.

They either float on the water surface or hop along the surface of water. They are sometimes mistaken for small spiders.

57. Muskrat

Muskrats are rodents that are found in North American freshwater lakes, swamps, and marshes. They are nocturnal and usually store food for winter.

They are threatened by animals such as coyotes, wolves and foxes. They have a lifespan of about two years.

Close up of a muskrat with its grayish-brown fur in dried grass surface during daytime.

(Image: Kieran Wood26)

58. Snakes

Northern, southern, brown and banded snakes live in lakes. There’s so many snake’s species that live in or around water bodies.

Close up of a snake showing its gray-colored head, dark tongue out and its yellow scaled body submerged under water.

(Image: David Clode26)

They are located in both deep and shallow water. Most snakes live in relatively clear water where there’s little surface vegetation.

Biggest Fish in the Great Lakes

The biggest fish in the great lakes is the lake sturgeon.16 This fish is humongous. It has a big heavy body that is shaped like a torpedo and is covered in bony cartilage instead of scales.

They are omnivores that feed on insects, crustaceans, small clams and snails.

To summarize, there are many animal species that depend on lake habitats for their survival.

Animals that live in a lake feed on each other and the vegetation around them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Animals That Live in a Lake

What Is the Largest Freshwater Lake in the World?

The largest freshwater lake is Lake Superior.

What Are Some Scary Animals That Live in Lakes?

Alligators and crocodiles are some scary animals that live in lakes, but snakes, snapping turtles and others are also a little terrifying.

How Do You Sponsor an Animal?

Many animal sanctuaries provide avenues where you can sponsor an animal or pay for the upkeep of animals.

Do Fish Produce CO2?

Yes, fish produce carbon dioxide, it’s a by-product of fish respiration.

What Are Some Types of Lake Fish?

Some types of lake fish include trout, bass and catfish.

What Is the Largest Animal That Lives in a Lake?

Crocodiles and alligators are usually the largest animals that live in a like.


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25Mink by John_Nature_Photos, Otter by lovelooking, Painted Turtle by 631372, Salmon 8052601, Ring-Billed Gulls by lizzyliz, Greater Scaup by TheOtherKev, Snapping Turtle by JackBulmer, Snail by Nennieinszweidrei, Walleye by VesaL, Frogs by 12019, Chinook Salmon by PublicDomainImages, Muscovy Ducks by truller, Flamingoesby BarbeeAnne, Crayfish by Ylvers, Clam by Theresamcgee, Largemouth Bass by paulbr75, Caddisfly by 8070548, Egrets by akbarnemati, Leech by Stones, Fiddler Crab by GabrielDouglas, Loon by krista269, Caspian Lake by WikiImages, Waterfall Pond by dimitrisvetsikas1969, Frog Amphibian by Alexas_Fotos, Lake Herring by andreas160578, Lake Sturgeon by Hans. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/>

26Spiders by Dev Leigh, American Bittern by Syed Ahmad, Lake Trout by Sara Kurfeß, Mayfly by Erik Karits, Long-Tailed Duck by Tyler Jamieson Moulton, Perch by Jeff Vanderspank, Catfish by Milos Prelevic, Beaver by Tim Umphreys, Axolotl by Mattias Banguese, Alligators by Shelly Collins, Freshwater Crocodiles by Rae Wallis, Swans by Šárka Krňávková, Gar by GraceHues Photography, Dragonflies by kalai venthan gopal, Crickets by Heiko Haller, Bats by James Wainscoat, Lizard by Selin Şahin, Newt by Tyler Donaghy, Northern Pike by Kelly Sikkema, Eel by Wouter Naert, Pied-Billed Grebe by Paul Crook, Cormorant by Romina BM, Goose by Shirish Suwal, Muskrat by Kieran Wood, Snake by David Clode, Lake with Pine Trees by Hugo L. Casanova, Calm Lake by Marco Czollmann. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/>

27Water Boatmen and Zebra Mussel by Bj.schoenmakers,Great Diving Beetle by Evanherk, Pond Skater by Enrico Mevius, Julien’s Golden Carp by vi:User:Amicecorp. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>

28jidanchaomian. (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized, Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/10565417@N03/6246022823/sizes/o/>

29Hans Hillewaert. (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized, Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gastrosaccus_spinifer.jpg>

30Seb951. (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized, Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coregonus_clupeaformis.jpg>

31Fernando Losada Rodríguez. (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized, Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Petromyzon_marinus.001_-_Aquarium_Finisterrae.jpg>