Fire-bellied newt

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Less than six inches long, this aquatic amphibian feeds on insects and other invertebrates in slow-moving or still waters. Named for the bright red-orange coloration on its belly, the fire-bellied newt is toxic to the touch, a defense mechanism against predators. In captivity, however, they seem to lose their toxicity.

Alligator Gar

alligator gar

Although few alligator gars approach the record size of 10 feet and 300 pounds, they are still among the largest freshwater fish in North America.  Gars can live in water that is too low in oxygen for many fish, by gulping air at the surface into their lung-like swim bladders.

Redear Sunfish

redear sunfish

Commonly called the shellcracker, the redear sunfish specializes in eating snails. It has specially adapted teeth in the back of its mouth for crushing snail shells.

Spotted Salamander

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Spotted salamanders can be very difficult to find because they hide under rocks, leaves or in burrows and only come out at night. They also are camouflaged by their dark brown, grey or black bodies and yellow spots.

Two-toed Amphiuma

two-toed amphibian web

Up to three feet long and slippery, the eel-like two-toed amphiuma is an entirely aquatic salamander and considered one of the longest in the United States. The top of its body is dark brown or black with a dark grey underside.

 

Cave Salamander

Cave Salamander_Greg Schechter

The cave salamander inhabits the twilight area of caves just inside the entrance where there is some light but it is too dark for plants to grow. With a short lunge and an extremely quick tongue flick—its tongue fully extends in just 5.5 milliseconds!—the cave salamander catches small invertebrates to eat.

Amazon Milk Frog

milk frog

The Amazon milk frog spends its entire life cycle in the tropical rainforest canopy. During breeding season, males stake out water-filled tree holes and call for mates. About 2,000 eggs are laid in the water as a result of a successful mating, which hatch into tadpoles by the next day.

Mosquitofish

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The little mosquitofish has a big job – keeping the mosquito population down by feeding on its aquatic larval and pupal stages.  In turn, the mosquitofish is preyed upon by larger fish such as bass and pickerel, and wading birds. 

Longnose Gar

gar

As its name implies, the longnose gar sports a long, narrow snout armed with many sharp teeth for catching smaller fish.  To keep itself from becoming prey, the gar is protected by hard, diamond-shaped scales.  Another remarkable feature is the gar’s ability to breathe air when the aquatic oxygen supply is low. 

Azureus Cichlid

azureus cichlid

The azureus cichlid is a plankton-feeder from Lake Malawi in Africa.  As they mature, the males turn from silver to electric blue.  The flashier, the better, to seduce the females and ward off other males.