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More than 100,000 species on this earth, including us humans, need a specific type of water to survive – freshwater. However, with less than 3% of our world’s water being this type, it’s safe to say that freshwater ecosystems are incredibly valuable. Sadly, many of the UK and Europe’s waterways have been damaged over the years by pollution, and it’s up to everyone to help them recover.

Our Northern Streams exhibit is here to take you on a journey, giving you the chance to explore freshwater rivers and discover the wildlife living in this type of habitat.

What is Northern Streams?

Start your journey from spring to estuary as you wander through the Northern Streams exhibit. Freshwater is called such because it begins as water vapour that has evaporated from other bodies of water, and as the vapour rises it leaves behind any salt or other contaminants – becoming fresh. Most freshwater can be found in lakes, rivers and streams.

The fish that call freshwater home are physiologically adapted to this type of environment, and as such, our Northern Streams exhibit aims to recreate that authentic freshwater habitat to showcase some of the most interesting species.

What’s it like at this exhibit?

There are around 12 different species in our Northern Streams exhibit, with the water sitting at around 15 degrees to recreate a temperate climate for our fish. The exhibit represents some of the environments found in the UK and Northern Europe, and is home to a diverse range of fish from the planet’s cooler waters.

What will I find at Northern Streams?

Northern Streams introduces you some of the species that call the beautiful rivers and streams of the British Isles home, as well as some waterways in Europe too. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover wildlife that many will never have been lucky enough to see. So, without much further ado, here are some of the incredible fish you’ll see here…

  • Siberian Sturgeon

The Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) is typically found in northern Russia, living in virtually every river system in Siberia. They can grow up to around 2 metres in length, and are long and slender with an elongated snout. You can recognise a Siberian sturgeon thanks to its scutes, which are horn-like bones that cover their bodies.

  • Russian Sturgeon

A close relative, the Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) is more commonly found across Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and Russia. They are critically endangered due to dams preventing migration routes. This species has a short, rounded snout and can grow over 2 metres in the right conditions!

  • Tench

With an olive-green body, black fins and red eyes, the tench (Tinca tina) is a distinctive looking creature. It is commonly found is shallower lakes and rivers throughout the UK and Europe. The tench is sometimes known as the ‘doctor fish’, because it’s thought to heal other fish with its mucus coating.

  • Orfe

Also known as the ide, the orfe is a freshwater fish found across Northern Europe and even Asia. It’s part of a wider family that also encompasses minnows and carps. The orfe comes in different colour morphs, with the most popular being the golden orfe (Leuciscus idus), which you can see right here at Blue Planet Aquarium.

  • Grass Carp

Grass carps (Ctenopharyngo don Idella) have long, torpedo-shaped bodies covered in tiny scales, with a rounded head. It is native to China and Russia, and is the only species in its genus. However, it has since been introduced to the UK to help with weeding. They are dark olive in colour, and can grow over 1 metre long. 

  • Crucian Carp

A medium sized member of the carp family, the crucian carp (Carassius carassius) is commonly found across Europe. They are usually deep bronze or golden in colour, and have no barbels unlike their close relatives, the common carp. Interestingly, the crucian carp is also a very close relation to the goldfish, which you’ll no doubt be familiar with! 

  • Common Carp

The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a very large fish native to Asia and Eastern Europe, and wasn’t introduced to the UK until the Middle Ages! It has a rounded body that is usually grey-bronze in colour. It’s also known as the European carp, and can weigh as much as 7kg – although the heaviest one ever caught was thought to be around 50kg!

  • Common Bream

The common bream (Abramis brama) is also sometimes known as the bronze bream, thanks to its dark bronze colouring. It is a large, diamond shaped fish native to Europe, living in schools near the bottom of rivers and ponds. It’s thought to be the only species in its genus.

  • Barbel

The common barbel (Barbus barbus) belongs to the same family as the carps, but are easily recognisable thanks to the two barbels under their mouths. It is native to Europe, preferring habitats with fast-flowing rivers that have gravel or stone bottoms.

  • European Perch

Also known as the common perch or redfin perch, the European perch (Perca fluviatilis) is easily recognisable thanks to its black stripes down its body and red fins. They are a predatory species, preying on smaller fish as well as insects. They can grow up to around 60cm and have been known to live over 20 years.

Who would enjoy this exhibit?

Anyone fascinated by the wildlife that lives on our doorstep will be thrilled to take a look around our Northern Streams exhibit. Similarly, if you’re interested in the UK’s rivers and waterways, this exhibit can give you a real insight into the environment and the animals that call it home.

Many of the species here can be hard to spot out in the wild, and so it gives a unique opportunity to learn something new about our very own fish.


At Blue Planet Aquarium we have strived to make our exhibits as accessible as possible. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Current Water Temp

15 / 59

Water Type

Fresh Water

Climate / Biome

Temperate Rivers

In This Exhibit

12 species | 700 animals

Where are we?

Northern Europe and North America

In This Exhibit

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