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Aquatic habitats fluctuate with the seasons, limiting distribution of fishes during the dry season.

Brown Bullhead. Photo © Noel Burkhead
Brown Bullhead. Photo © Noel Burkhead

Close to 100 species of freshwater fish have been documented in south Florida including aquatic habitats throughout the Everglades region.

These fish include :

During drought conditions, aquatic habitats became scarce. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District
During drought conditions, aquatic habitats became scarce. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

During the rainy season, flooding scatters fish across the everglades while during the dry season water fish become limited to deeper water habitats and gator holes. Changes in water level and dissolved oxygen concentrations require fish to be specially adapted to this ever-changing environment. Some fish are able burrow into the sediments and aestivate (live in a dormant state) during the dry season.

Pelican diving for fish. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District
Pelican diving for fish. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Fish provide a mainstay in the everglades food webs. Feeding an algae, aquatic insects, and crustaceans, fish in turn provide food for a variety of predators including alligators and wading birds as well as larger fish.