Are Protists Aquatic? 9 Important Facts You Should Know

In this article we will illustrate different facts of protists and find out that are protists aquatic or not.

Most of the protists are exists in aquatic environment in any of its life form. The aquatic environments include fresh water, marine water, damp soil and snow. But most of the protists also present in the terrestrial environments.

Protists are the first eukaryotes which evolve from the primitive form to survive in the environments. The meaning of the word “protists” is first.Protist are the single-celled eukaryotes having nucleus.

Are all protists aquatic?

The protists organisms require moist environment for their growth. Almost all the protist are aquatic organisms. Most of the protists found in the damp soils, oceans, lakes and marshes.

Some of the protists are found in the association of the other organisms mainly in the symbiotic relationship. Either they live in or on the other organisms like in humans.

Aquatic environment provides the suitable environment for movement for those protists which have cilia and flagella. Due to single celled structure of protist, it is very difficult for protist to survive in the terrestrial environmental, however they can grow in damp terrestrial area in soils and under the fallen leaves.

Are protists aquatic
Protists collage from Wikipedia

How are protists are aquatic?

Protists are first eukaryotic organisms that are single celled having nucleus bearing DNA as a genetic material. Cilia and flagella are present which help in the movement. The aquatic environments help to move the protist for one place to other help to get food and reproduction.

Do protists live in freshwater or saltwater?

The protists are found in all kind of aquatic environments like fresh water, salt water, marsh area, oceans, damp soils and even the snow.

The protists play an important role in the aquatic food webs. Some of the protists are photosynthetic act as producer. Aquatic environment help to move by gliding or floating, by the means of “whips” or small hairs called as flagella or cilia respectively.

How do protist survive in water?

Protists live in the water because by the water, protists get many advantages like in metabolism, reproduction and its ecology.

  • Metabolism– Protists are primitive eukaryotes which do not have specialized organelles like RBCs. To complete its oxygen demand, they live in the low oxygen atmosphere like water. Protists absorbs the water and uses water for their waste management.
  • Reproduction– protists are reproduce by the binary fission. For that fission, water is the suitable environment for reproduction.
  • Ecology– protists have flagella, cilia and pseudopodia help them swim and collect the food. Protists use the water currents and gather small food particles like water borne bacteria.

Are there non-aquatic protists?

Some of the protist live in the symbiotic association to the other organisms within body fluids and tissues. For examples, some protists are found in the termites’ intestinal tracts. The relationship of protists are mainly symbiotic (beneficial for both the organisms) and in some cases parasitic (deleterious to other organisms).

Aquatic protists examples

Most of the protists are aquatic in nature. Some of the examples are explained below.

  • Ciliates– these are tiny protists that have tiny hair like projection thousand in numbers. Cilia of the protists are move in the unison means all the cilia move in the same directions that will help to move the organisms from one to other place. Example: Paramecium.
  • Dinoflagellates– these are the organisms that have flagella on its body that can exhibit by spinning movement. Dinoflagellates can be marine as well as fresh water organelles.
  • Diatoms– these are found in every aquatic habitat. Mostly, diatoms found in the oceans. These are unicellular algae protist. They are considered as most beautiful protist on earth due to its tiny glass appearance.
  • Chrysophytes– in this group, mainly diatoms and golden algae (desmids). They live in both fresh water and marine environments. These are the organisms which flow passive to the water currents.
  • Euglenoids– euglena are the fresh and marine water protists which are mainly autotrophic in nature i.e. they can prepare their own food by itself. They have chloroplast in their cell that help in the photosynthesis process.
  • Paramecium– it is the most commonly used in the research purposes as a model organisms specifically in the classrooms. Paramecium uses the cilia to get swallow food to its central channel or gullet. These are mainly fresh water protists.
  • Amoeba– it is shapeless organisms that engulf its prey and absorbs its nutrition. It is fresh water protist. One species of amoeba is diseases causing.
  • Heliozoans– it is freshwater, unicellular protozoans. It is spherical in shape. They are3 made up of silica which is secreted from its cytoplasm. These is the secretion that form pseudopods and help to capture its prey.
  • Radiolarians– these are found in the ocean bed. They are helpful to study the fossil record. They have glassy silica with the radial or bilateral symmetry. They have needle-like pseudopods radiate from the cell body of the protists.

Non-aquatic protist examples

  • Stramenopile– it is organisms clade different from by the presence of stiff tripartite external hairs. External hairs are attached to the flagella in most of the species. It is eukaryotes neither fungi, animals nor plants.
  • Alveolates– it is the grouped under protists having distinct due to presence from tubulocristate mitochondria. Alveolates meaning pitted like a honeycomb.
  • Rhizaria– it is ill-defined are non-photosynthetic species. They are present in the symbiotic relationship with the unicellular algae.
  • Hemimastigophora– these are group of single celled protists with the single family Spironemidae. They form the ancient lineage of eukaryotes.
  • Apusozoan– they comprising several genera of flagellate eukaryotes. They occur soils and aquatic habitats. They will feed on the bacteria. They are classified on the presence of an organic shell or theca under the dorsal surface of the cells.


In the end of article, we can conclude that protists are mostly aquatic animals. They are first eukaryotic animals which adapt themselves to extreme environment for their survival and lead to next level of classification i.e. multicellular organisms.

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