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Can Squid Live in Freshwater?

Any time you think of a squid, you probably think of these little tentacled creatures swimming around in the ocean, right? You’d probably never imagine them living in freshwater bodies like lakes, streams, or rivers. So this begs the question, can squid live in freshwater?

Most squid species cannot tolerate living in freshwater, but a few specialized species have adapted to tolerate freshwater better than their relatives. The Brief Squid is one such species that can do this.

So, if squid can’t typically survive in fresh water, where do they like to live best? What parts of the ocean do they tend to inhabit, and what are their natural habitats like?

In this article, we’re going to explain all this and more. Keep reading now to get all the details on the squid’s tolerance for living in freshwater.

A Squid’s Natural Habitat

So, we’ve established that squid typically cannot live in freshwater. A group of squid, specifically the giant squid, is not adapted to live without the natural salt content found in ocean water, which can damage their gills to breathe in too much fresh water. As such, they much prefer the ocean depths as their preferred habitat.

Different species of squid-like inhabit varying depths of the sea, with some favoring water closer to the surface or in the middle and others preferring life down in the deep dark. Giant squid, for example, are one such species of squid that prefer to live in the lowest depths of the ocean.

Some organisms in the ocean only live at one depth, such as benthic organisms, which prefer to live at the very bottom of the ocean. Most squid, however, is a nektonic animals. This means they can exist and live at any level within the ocean waters.

Another term used to describe squid concerning their habitat is pelagic. This word translates to “open sea” in Greek, which fits perfectly since squid tends to roam the ocean’s depths freely.

This isn’t to say they don’t have preferred ocean zones, though. During the day, they like to hide out in the mesopelagic zone when they’re resting. This is a zone that is around 200 meters to 1000 meters deep.

When night comes around, they emerge and venture to the epipelagic zone to hunt for prey. So, we can say that most types of squid like to hang out at an average of around 1000 meters deep.

What Parts of the World Do Squid Live In?

Squids are very adaptable animals and can live in many different parts of the world. They are also migratory in nature, traveling to new waters whenever needed.

This could spur local pollution, changing climates, or food scarcity. Many species of squid will also migrate based on mating patterns.

For example, the Common Squid tends to spend most of its time in the waters off the coasts of Western Europe. Yet come mating season, they migrate to the North Sea for spawning. The depths at which they live during these times can vary, as they can adapt to varying parts of the water column.

Squid like to live in clean water, typically, and can migrate to deeper waters that have a lower oxygen content. Most animals cannot survive in midwater low-oxygen environments, but the squid can thrive there. These adaptable creatures can survive in many different environments.

What About Freshwater?

As we mentioned briefly, squid does not tolerate freshwater, and it may even hurt them if exposed to it for too long. That being said, one species of squid tolerates freshwater much better than its squid relatives.

This is the Brief Squid, or Lolliguncula brevis, as its Latin name. The Brief Squid is so because it is incredibly small, measuring only a few centimeters. Additionally, studies on this particular squid have shown that it can tolerate lower water salinity than most squid can.

Typical ocean water has a salinity of around 30 ppt or higher, whereas pure freshwater is around 0 ppt. The Brief Squid was found to be able to live in much lower salinity than its cousins, tolerating water of around 15 ppt remarkably well. However, exposed to true freshwater, even this species of squid would not be able to survive.

The Brief Squid can be found off the east coasts of the American continents. Their natural habitats range from the coasts of Brazil up past Mexico and to the coasts of New Jersey.

Unfortunately, there have been no discoveries of true freshwater squid. As far as scientists know today, there is no such thing. Perhaps with further study and time, marine biologists may one day discover a squid that lives in a freshwater habitat. Or at least one that can survive in freshwater at all.

Final Thoughts

The squid is a marvelous little creature. Sometimes it’s not so small, like the giant squid that can reach over twenty feet long! Despite this, most species of squid are relatively small in comparison. And even though they are one of the most adaptable creatures in the sea, they do not do well in freshwater.

The vast majority of squid species would struggle to survive in a freshwater environment, eventually dying from exposure. The only species of squid that can tolerate some freshwater is the Brief Squid, and even then, they still need some salinity to survive. As of now, no freshwater species of squid has been discovered.

We hope this short guide has answered all your questions about whether or not squid can live in freshwater.

For more interesting facts and guides, check out our other squid article below:

Can Squid Smell?

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