Aquatic Habitats


Pond Study, Critter I.D

Find a pond or wetland and discover the life in a pond.  Use the nets, bug viewers or jars you have at home to catch some insects in the pond. use this to find a location near you.

Water Bug Search

Did you know that which bugs live in a wetland can tell you about how healthy that water is?  Take a look at the water from a nearby creek.  Does it look healthy?  Are there smells or sights that don’t seem right?  Why do you think it is or is not a healthy?  Use a net to scoop up tiny bugs under rocks, on grass around the water, in the water, and in the mud.  Search through what you found and try to identify them using the IOWATER Benthic Macro invertebrate key and flow chart.

If you find critters from the high-quality group it means that the water is very clean.  If you only find those from the middle quality group only it may mean that the water may be polluted.  Discuss whether you were right.  Also talk about what people might depend on this aquatic habitat for.

Catchin’ Croakers

On a summer night, go to a local pond or wetland with a flashlight and look and listen for bullfrogs.  Shine a flashlight around and look for two glowing eyes.  If your light is bright enough, you can temporarily “freeze” the frogs in place by shining the light into their eyes.  See if you can get close enough to catch them.  You will have to be fast!  Bring a bucket along filled with water to keep them in.  When you are done, let them all go.


Take part in reviving an old tradition.  Tie a piece of liver or bacon on a string and visit a stream.  Wait until a crawdad tugs and try to catch it.  Be careful when handling the crawdad because they pinch!

Create Your Own Aquatic Habitat

Dig a backyard pond or establish a water garden on a porch or patio.  Add aquatic plants and duckweed which look like miniature lily pads to attract other creatures.  Add a goldfish or other small fish to keep mosquitoes away.  Frogs and turtles are also welcome.

Water forms

Go online to google maps satellite view and take a look at the different rivers, lakes, ponds and streams around where you live.  How close are they to where you currently live?  Where does the water come from in your area and where does it go?  Which rivers are closest to your home?  What major river does the river closest to you drain into?  Where does the water go from there?  


Poles can be rented at the recreation front desk. Inquire for details. 319-626-5716.

Books and Information

  1. Pond Life Pocket Naturalist
  2. Discover Nature in Water and Wetlands, Lawlor (Ages 7-14)
  3. The Calls of Frogs and Toads-CD and Book, Elliot
  4. Reptiles and Amphibians Peterson First Guide (Ages 7-adult)
  5. City of North Liberty Aquatic Habitat Information Sheet
  6. 2013 Iowa Fishing Regulations
  7. Iowa Reptiles and Amphibians Iowa Association of Naturalists
  8. Iowa Fish Iowa Association of Naturalists
  9. Iowa Wetlands Iowa Association of Naturalists
  10. Iowa Waterways Iowa Association of Naturalists
  11. Iowa Water Pollution Iowa Association of Naturalists
Google Translate