What's What When it Comes to Water

A brief explanation of three different types of water

The Composition and Characteristics of Freshwater

What makes freshwater so 'fresh'? Freshwater, unlike brackish water and saltwater, has a low salt concentration - usually less than 1%. Freshwater can be found in places such as wetlands, ponds and lakes, as well as rivers and streams.

Wetlands are places such as marshes and swamps. It is a standing water that enables many different kinds of plants. Excluding salt marshes, wetlands have a freshwater ecosystem which supports the most diverse group of animals and plants than all other ecosystems. The plants and animals that thrive in freshwater are accustomed to the low salt concentration making them unable to survive in other water ( i.e. saltwater). So in a salt marsh the species of animals and plants would differ greatly.

Ponds and lakes are also great examples of fresh water. Although they support freshwater ecosystems, many ponds and lakes have different species because they are separated from one another. Most ponds are seasonal and come and go whereas lakes can last hundreds of years - this gives lakes the ability to give home and life to many different animals and plants for long periods of time.

Finally, streams and rivers. These are both bodies of water that are moving in one direction. Streams and rivers are unique because not only can they be found everywhere, but at different points in rivers and streams there are completely different kinds of life being sustained.

What is Brackish Water?

'Brak' means salty. Brackish water is simply a sort of mix of saltwater and freshwater. When asked to give characteristics of brackish water ones answer would probably be that it is water with a salt concentration that is higher than freshwater but less than saltwater. Brackish water can be created by mixing saltwater with freshwater, however it can also be created by brackish fossil aquifers. Unlike freshwater, brackish water is detrimental to the growth of most terrestrial plant species so it is often managed by outside sources.

Characteristics of Saltwater

Saltwater is most commonly found in seas and oceans. It has a high salt concentration level of about 3.8%. The most common form of saltwater is seawater. Saltwater supports very different kinds of life than freshwater. Saltwater is the leading form of water as it is responsible for 97% of the 70% of water covering the earth's surface.


Due to the composition of salt water it is denser than pure water and freshwater. And unlike brackish water, it is able to sustain large ecosystems with various kinds of plants and animals.

Flyer by Avery Hoopes