Aquatic Ecosystem

Aquatic Ecosystem

The term "ecosystem" refers to a group of living things that work together as a functional unit to interact with one another and their environment in order to survive.

Aquatic Ecosystem


The term "ecosystem" refers to a group of living things that work together as a functional unit to interact with one another and their environment in order to survive. An ecosystem can be broadly divided into two types: terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) ecosystems.

There's no doubt that water sustains many lives. Additionally, aquatic organisms are those that can survive and even flourish in water. Water is essential to their survival for a number of reasons, including food, shelter, reproduction, and many others. You can get a good idea of the types of aquatic ecosystems and their significance in general from this article.

What do we need to know about the aquatic ecosystems?

According to the definition of an aquatic ecosystem, this type of environment is one that is based in water and in which living things interact with the environment's physical and chemical components. Aquatic organisms are living things whose needs for food, shelter, reproduction, and other basic needs depend on the presence of water.

By transferring materials between the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere and enabling chemical reactions to take place, water connects the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere and plays a significant role in the management of global ecosystem processes in aquatic systems. Water has distinct physicochemical characteristics that reveal the caliber of the water body. 

An aquatic ecosystem's physicochemical properties govern its functionality and its capacity to sustain life for a given amount of time. Similar to how soil in terrestrial ecosystems serves as a substrate, a source of nutrients, and a place for living aquatic resources, sediments in aquatic ecosystems serve the same functions. The two water quality dynamics and the environmental food cycles both heavily rely on sediments as catalysts.

An aquatic ecosystem's ability to function is directly or indirectly impacted by the sediment quality. The many physicochemical properties of sediment determine its quality. An aquatic environment's ability to function depends on its biotic composition. They function as a trophic level and a fuel source in the aquatic environment. In the entire food web, fish play a significant ecological role at the trophic level.

Nekton, plankton, and benthos are a few of the most prevalent aquatic organisms. The following are a few well-known examples of aquatic ecosystems: lakes, oceans, ponds, rivers, swamps, coral reefs, wetlands, etc.

Features of Aquatic Ecosystem 

Salient features of the aquatic ecosystem are highlighted in this figure below –

  • You can create them with freshwater or saltwater.
  • For a variety of aquatic creatures, they provide a home.
  • Algae and corals make up the majority of the vegetation.
  • They are the most prosperous and productive ecosystems on the planet due to their high biological diversity.
  • In addition to other things, they serve as a pollution filter and aid in regulating the hydrological cycle.

Types of Aquatic Ecosystems

Aquatic ecosystems can be divided into two categories: marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems. Under various aquatic ecosystems, both freshwater and marine ecosystems are further broken down.

Here, we'll look at the types of aquatic ecosystem.


  • Marine Water Ecosystem


More than 70% of the earth's surface is covered by this particular ecosystem, which is the largest aquatic ecosystem. Regarding salinity, this ecosystem is comparatively more salinity concentrated. However, the majority of aquatic organisms have adapted to saline water, and they might struggle to survive in freshwater. The marine ecosystem falls into the following classifications. 

  • Ocean Ecosystem 

The five largest oceans on earth are the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and the Southern Ocean. Notably, the Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of these five, while the Atlantic is the second largest in terms of size. Additionally, among them, the Southern Ocean is home to the most Krill. In addition, the oceans are home to a variety of aquatic creatures, including turtles, crustaceans, plankton, corals, shellfish, blue whales, sharks, tube worms, and reptiles. 

  • Estuaries 

As it is frequently the confluence of rivers and seas, the water is slightly saltier than freshwater and more diluted than in a marine ecosystem. Because they promote primary production and trap plant nutrients, estuaries are regarded as productive ecosystems. Tidal marshes, river mouths, and coastal bays are a few types of estuaries.


  • Coral Reefs


Given the wide variety of aquatic flora and fauna they support, these are affectionately known as the Rain Forest of Oceans.  An aquatic ecosystem made up of corals that form reefs is known as a coral reef. Reef formation uses calcium carbonate to hold coral polyps together. The majority of coral reefs are composed of stony corals, whose polyps gather in clusters.

Sea anemones and jellyfish are members of the animal phylum Cnidaria, and coral belongs to the class Anthozoa.  Contrary to sea anemones, corals secrete tough carbonate exoskeletons that serve as both a support and a barrier. The ideal water conditions for most reefs are warm, shallow, clear, sunny, and agitated. The microbial and sponge reefs of the Cambrian were replaced by coral reefs at the start of the Early Ordovician, 485 million years ago.

  • Coastal Ecosystem 

When land and water come together, coastal ecosystems are created. These ecosystems are distinct in their structure, variety, and energy flow. Plants and algae rule the seafloor in coastal environments. The fauna consists of various animals, including snails, fish, crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. It is a significant aquatic ecosystem that stands out for its distinctive structure and diversity. The coastal ecosystem is formed by the union of land and water. Snails, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and fish can all be found in coastal ecosystems, which also support a wide range of plants and algae. 


  • Freshwater Ecosystem


Less than 1% of the earth's surface is taken up by this aquatic ecosystem, which is broadly divided into lentic, lotic, and wetlands ecosystems. 


  • Swamps and Wetlands


A variety of plants and animals can be found in these marshy areas, which are frequently underwater. It is well known that water lilies, marshes, swamps, Northern Pikes, dragonflies, Green Herons, etc. all inhabit wetlands.


  • Lentic Ecosystems


This ecosystem is home to both floating and rooted plants, algae, and invertebrates, it includes bodies of standing water like ponds and lakes. 

Lentic ecosystems encompass all habitats with standing water, including ponds and lakes. These environments support the existence of algae, rooted and floating plants, as well as crustaceans like crabs and shrimp. Here, you can find amphibians like frogs and salamanders as well as reptiles like alligators and water snakes. In lentic ecosystems, it's typical to see salamanders, frogs, water snakes, and alligators. 


  • Lotic Ecosystems


Rapidly flowing water that moves in only one direction is a characteristic of these aquatic ecosystems. They serve as an important gathering place for a wide range of insects, including beetles, mayflies, and stoneflies.  It also supports species like river dolphins, beavers, otters, eels, minnows, and trout. 

Functions of Aquatic Ecosystem 

These tips emphasize the value of aquatic ecosystems -

  • Supports nutrient recycling
  • Aids in water filtration
  • Refills the groundwater
  • Is a habitat for aquatic vegetation
  • Reduces flooding