Not All Water is the Same: Rainforest River Types

Like the many colored plants and animals that live in the rainforest, its rivers  also have different colors.

There are three different rainforest river types: blackwater, whitewater and clearwater rivers. 

Blackwater rivers are considered to be among the cleanest waters in the rainforest. This is because the river water have few minerals and is also very acidic; the soil is poor and fewer trees are found around blackwater rivers and streams. This chemical makeup also explains why the rivers are not as "buggy" in terms of water insects or mosquitoes that are normally drawn to water resources. However, many fish have adapted to the water including angelfish, gouramis and tetras. And despite their name, blackwater rivers have very clear waters.

rainforest river
Whitewater rivers, also called brownwater rivers may look like they are polluted. However, the water's brownish colors come from the heavy sediment that is washed into the river. Most of the rivers that are found in lowland tropical rainforests are whitewater rivers. Because of the cloudy waters, animals who live in the rivers, like the river dolphins must rely on sonar rather than their eyes to move underwater.

Mostly located in the higher elevations of the rainforest as the clear, or bluewater rivers. Unlike whitewater rivers which tend to be slow moving, clear water rivers are more rapid. This is because of the higher elevations and the fact that many of these rivers travel over rocks. Among the different fish that live in the clearwater rivers are catfish.

Something to Think About: Why would different river water types not be suitable for all animals?

Want to Learn More? Visit Monga Bay to learn more about rainforest rivers and streams

Rainforest Kids Science Curriculum Connection: Unit 1: Chapter 2; Lesson 1; Grades K-5

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