- American Eel
Size: 60 inches in length and can weigh up to 16 pounds
Diet: Larval fish, gastropods, larger finfish, frogs, toads, crabs, lobsters and worms
Lifespan: 40 years
Range: The American eel is found in the northwestern to central Atlantic Ocean and throughout the Great Lakes. They range down the Atlantic Coast of the United States, to the Gulf of Mexico, including the West Indies to Trinidad.
Predators: Sharks and bass prey upon adult eels.
Conservation Status: American eels are not listed in the IUCN Red List (World Conservation Union), but they have not been evaluated recently. They have no special Federal status. Concerns have been raised about over fishing the elver stage leaving fewer eels to reach adulthood. The American eel is also vulnerable to habitat loss through projects and pollution. In the Great Lakes, the population of American eels has been drastically reduced.
Size: 9 inches
Diet: Small crustaceans, fish, plants
Lifespan: 15 years
Range: Mexico City
Predators: Humans, birds, large fish
Conservation Status: Critically endangered. There are no axolotls left in the wild, their habitat has been completely destroyed by humans. They are not extinct because they flourish under human care and can be found in many aquariums.
- Balloon Fish
Size: 8 to 14 inches
Diet: Mollusks, crabs, urchins, algae
Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
Range: Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans
Predators: Humans, sharks, large fish – however, because the balloon fish can inflate, exposing toxic spikes, they are hard prey to catch
Conservation Status: Vulnerable, becoming endangered due to pollution and overfishing
- Blacktip Reef Shark
Size: 4 to 6 feet
Diet: Small fish
Lifespan: 12 to 25 years
Range: Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea
Predators: Humans, large sharks, large groupers
Conservation Status: Near Threatened due to overfishing for shark fin soup and habitat destruction.
- Brook Trout
Size: 10 to 16 inches in length, 1 to 2 pounds, but there have been records of 13-pound brook trout
Diet: Mayflies, other aquatic insects, and salamanders
Lifespan: 3 to 6 years
Range: Native to much of North America, found in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Superior and is the only native stream dwelling trout in the Great Lakes.
Predators: Humans, ducks and kingfishers.
Conservation Status: The brook trout is not listed in the IUCN Red List (World Conservation Union). In New York State, the brook trout was once widespread. Many native populations have been decimated or lost completely due to habitat loss, introduction of competing non-native species and pollution. There have been a few invaluable, isolated native non-hybridized populations discovered. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working to conserve them.
Size: 4 to 6 inches
Diet: Algae, zooplankton, worms, small crustaceans
Lifespan: 6 to 10 years
Range: Indonesian waters of Northern Queensland, Australia and Melanesia
Predators: Sharks, eels, large fish
Conservation Status: Not threatened, however their numbers have dwindle significantly because of the popularity of Pixar’s Finding Nemo.
- Coastal Plain Cooter
Size: 16 inches
Diet: Adults feed on aquatic plants while juveniles feed on insects.
Lifespan: 20 years
Range: Coastal plains region of southeastern parts of the United States, such as Virginia and Alabama.
Predators: Muskrats, alligators, and humans
Conservation Status: The river cooter is subject to environmental impacts, including unnatural flooding regimes due to upstream dams, aquatic pollution and intentional killing for sport by shooting (called “plinking”) cooters from basking sites.
- Electric Eel
Size: 5 to 8 feet long, 40 to 50 pounds
Diet: Invertebrates, fish and small mammals
Lifespan: 15 years
Range: Electric eels live exclusively in the northwestern region of South America, inhabiting both the Orinoco and Amazon basins.
Predators: There are very few species that will attempt to prey upon an electric eel.
Conservation Status: This species is listed as “Of Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. They are quite abundant due to large brood sizes and a very good defense against predators.
- French Angelfish
Size: 16 to 24 inches
Diet: Omnivore; algae and a variety of invertebrates.
Lifespan: 10 years
Range: Atlantic Ocean off of Florida, the Bahamas, and even Brazil. French Angelfish can also be found amongst the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Predators: Larger species of fish and humans.
Conservation Status:The French angelfish is labeled as “of least concern”. This is because there are no documented population decline of this species in nature.
- Giant Pacific Octopus
Size: 9.75 to 16 feet, 22 to 110 pounds
Diet: Shrimp, clams, lobsters, fish
Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
Range: Northern Pacific Ocean from southern California to Alaska and Japan
Predators: Sharks, large fish and sometimes seals and sea lions
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated. Their population numbers are unknown but it is feared that they may be suffering from high pollution levels.
- Lake Sturgeon
Size: 10 to 300 pounds, 3 feet to 7 feet in length
Diet: Insect larvae, crayfish, snails, and small fish
Lifespan: Males live to about 50 years, while females can live up to 150 years
Range: Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Hudson River and the St. Lawrence River basin. Lake sturgeons are intentionally stocked in lakes in Vermont and Wisconsin.
Predators: Humans (for caviar)
Conservation Status: The IUCN (World Conservation Union) has recently downgraded the lake sturgeon from threatened to a species of least concern.
The Aquarium of Niagara is proud to be a part of NYS DEC Lake Sturgeon Restoration Program. Lake sturgeon are born at a hatchery and then placed under our care until they are strong enough to be released into Lake Ontario to help the lake sturgeon population.
Size: 12 to 15 inches in length and weighs about 2 pounds
Diet: Crabs, small fish, and various shrimp
Lifespan: 15 years
Range: Native to the Indo-Pacific near shore area and around coral reefs. Due most likely to release by hobbyists, the red lionfish is now found from Long Island to Florida in bays, estuaries and harbors as well as along beaches and coral reefs. This invasive species has also been reported off the San Francisco coastline.
Predators: Predators of adult red lionfish are unknown. Sharks, especially sand tigers, may eat them, as they have been known to eat venomous fish.
Conservation Status: The lionfish is not listed by the IUCN (World Conservation Union) as threatened or vulnerable. Any wild occurrences in the United States should be reported to NOAA. It is not likely that the introduction of this fish to United States waters can be reversed.
The lionfish is an invasive species and with their increasing population, they are destroying ecosystems. There is a huge push to hunt lionfish and eat them, there are countless cookbooks on how to cook and eat lionfish.
- Poison Dart Frog
Size: 0.75 to 1.5 inches
Diet: The most common prey of the poison arrow dart frog is an ant but they also eat a variety of soil mites, springtails, tiny beetles, fly larvae, fruit flies and small spiders.
Lifespan: 12 to 20 years
Range: Rainforests of Central and South America
Predators: They have one natural predator, the fire-bellied snake, Leimadophis epinephelus.
Conservation Status: The poison arrow dart frog is labeled to be of least concern, but their natural habitats are destroyed by humans when deforestation occurs.
- Red-Bellied Piranha
Size: 13 inches in length and weigh up to one pound
Diet: Fish, fruits, nuts, dead or injured animals and crustaceans.
Lifespan: 10 years
Range: Rivers of Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil, Paraguay, and south to central Argentina.
Predators: Red-bellied piranhas have few predators, except for river otters and the alligator-like reptile, the caiman.
Conservation Status: This species of piranha is not listed in the IUCN Red List (World Conservation Union).
- Red-Eared Slider
Size: Lengths of 8 to 10 inches
Diet: Omnivore; aquatic plants and animal matter
Lifespan: 20 years in the wild
Range: Mississippi River, Louisiana, Illinois, Alabama, Texas and can make their way to the Pecos River of New Mexico
Predators: Raccoons, minks, otters, foxes, and other smaller mammals.
Conservation Status: They are labeled to be of “least concern”. This species does unfortunately suffer from destruction of their natural habitats by humans.
Size: 7 inches
Diet: This species will use its snout, like a straw, to capture small crustaceans and various other small aquatic creatures.
Lifespan: One year
Range: Coasts of both North and South America. They range as far north as Cape Cod and as far south as Uruguay.
Predators: The lined seahorse has excellent camouflage and so has few predators.
Conservation Status: This seahorse is labeled as “vulnerable”. Populations have been declining partially due to commercial harvesters over collecting this species.
Size: Lengths of 3 to 6 inches
Diet: Crustaceans, mussels, clams, and oysters
Lifespan: 35 years
Range: Atlantic Ocean, ranging from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico
Predators: Seagulls, bottom-dwelling fish, and crabs.
Conservation Status: Populations of the Forbes sea star are currently thriving in their natural habitats. This is occurring without any help from human intervention.
- Softshell Turtle
Size: Female softshell turtles can grow to 24 inches, while the considerably smaller males usually only grow to 12 inches
Diet: Fish, snails, insects, amphibians and crayfish and some plant materials. They actively hunt for food and are considered ambush predators
Lifespan: 30 years
Range: From Mobile, Alabama, to Charleston, South Carolina, and all throughout Florida, except for the Florida Keys. Some species have been introduced and become well established in the southwestern United States, in Colorado and Utah.
Predators: Alligators, black bears and the Florida panther
Conservation Status: The Florida softshell turtle is neither threatened or endangered. However, softshells are exploited for trade to Asian commercial food markets.
- Tessalata Moray Eel
Size: 6 to 9 feet
Diet: Octopus, squid, small fish
Lifespan: 30 years
Range: Near the equator, tropical salt water
Predators: Sharks, barracudas
Conservation Status: Least concern, no major threats
- Whitespotted Bamboo Shark
Size: 3.5 feet in length
Diet: Crabs, various shrimp, and small fish
Lifespan: 25 years
Range: Pacific Ocean, from waters around Japan south through Indonesia and the Philippine Islands
Predators: Larger sharks
Conservation Status: This shark species is currently listed by the IUCN (World Conservation Union) as near threatened. It is more likely to become threatened, because it is fished extensively in China, Indonesia and Thailand. They are reef fishes that are dependent on a healthy reef ecosystem. Global warming, pollution and the impact of humans have affected coral reefs and the animals that live on them.