Japanese Giant Salamander

The second largest salamander in the world, the Japanese giant salamander spends its entire life underwater. Lacking gills, it absorbs oxygen from the water through its wrinkly skin. With poor eyesight, the salamander relies on its sense of smell and touch while hunting for prey at night.

Hellbender

The largest fully aquatic salamander in the United States, the hellbender absorbs oxygen from the water through its wrinkly skin. Found in fast-flowing streams and rivers, it hides among the rocks during the day. At night, the hellbender uses its sense of smell to hunt for crayfish and other small creatures.

  • Look closely! The hellbender is a master of disguise, often hiding among the rocks.
  • Hellbender nicknames include snot otter, water dog, lasagna lizard and Allegheny alligator.

Fire-bellied newt

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 zoos, however, they seem to lose their toxicity.

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

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.

Two-toed Amphiuma

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.

 

Mosquitofish

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

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

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.

Red Pirahna

With its strong jaws and razor-sharp teeth, a red-bellied piranha can easily strip its prey to the bone. Though it is capable of attacking and feeding on larger animals, the piranha’s reputation as a vicious man-eater is unwarranted. It typically eats other fish, crustaceans, and insect.