Difference Between River and Stream


Main Difference

The main difference between River and Stream is that the River is a large floating water body formed by the combinations of small streams, whereas a Stream is a little floating water body and Streams join to form a River.

River vs. Stream

The river is a massive amount of water that found floating at any place, while the stream is a tiny quantity of water that flows. The river is deep; on the other hand, the stream is shallow. The combination of different stream forms the river; meanwhile, the streams collectively form the river.

Rivers are enormous and can cause floods, especially in those cities situated on the bank of rivers, but the streams are brief and can never drown a city. Rivers contain a variety of organisms in them, while streams don’t have a large number of individuals in them. Rives flow into the oceans at the end, on the flip side streams end while reaching the rivers.


Rivers mostly contain freshwater, conversely streams consist of any water originated even from glaciers also. Rivers naturally found water bodies, but the precipitation forms the streams by snow or any rainfall. Rivers cannot walk across; on the other hand, streams can cross easily.

Comparison Chart

A river is a sizeable floating body of water.A small is a floating body of water.
A river is deep.A stream is no deep.
Largest types of streamsSmall water bodies
A river can cause a floodA stream cannot cause a flood
Flows in wider banksFlows in narrow banks
Defined by waterbedsDefined by riverbeds
Formed By
Several streamsFlows into river
It usually contains FreshwaterIt contains any water
Carries more debrisCarries less debris

What is River?

The river is the most abundant type of flowing body stream. Rivers are natural and flow from high to low level. The water comes from precipitation at higher altitudes. The water then moves towards another place that can be a river, an ocean, or a sea. Rivers have definite shapes described by the waterbeds. Rivers carry a massive amount of water, but the volume of water changes with the season. During the snowy season, the melting of ice produces more water, but in the summer season, the quantity of water is less.

The Amazon river is the world’s largest river with the highest flow rate, with roundabout 220,000 cubic meters per second. From the man’s history, rivers are a source of food. These are abundant with fish and other edible aquatic organisms. It’s a source of freshwater used for drinking purposes, as well as for irrigation. Fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls are the sources of energy either by watermills or hydroelectric power stations. The sediments or sand carried by the ocean applied for construction purposes.

Flood is a danger caused by an overflow of rivers. River management is always necessary to prevent disruptive outcomes. Dams are made to handle the water flow, store water, and generate energy. The construction of canals is beneficial as it connects rivers and a source of navigation. The maintenance of waterways is crucial for habit conservation, as they are necessary for aquatic animals and plants, and many mammals.

What is Stream?

Stream are small flowing water bodies. It is a connection between other water bodies and crucial for the life of organisms that lives in this area. Riverbeds describe their shape. It comes down from higher grounds. There are many types of streams depending upon size, depth, location, and flow rate. Creeks, brooks, and rivers all are types of streams.

Parts of stream

  • Source: A stream starts from its source. The cause may occur at altitudes, mountains, or a spring. The other name for the source is ahead or headwater. A stream can have multiple sources.
  • Confluence: It is a point at which two streams cross each other.
  • Mouth: A specific point at which a stream enters on any other water body river or an ocean, called a mouth.
  • Estuary: If the stream enters in an ocean or a lake, named as an estuary.

Types of stream

  • Brook: A small, natural flow is called the brook
  • Creek: A narrow stream between islands is called a creek.
  • Runnel: The type of stream that flows under the earth
  • River: The wide variety of stream named the river
  • Tributary: The freshwater stream that enters the large water body.

A perennial stream is one that flows the whole year. The streams that flow immediately after precipitation is called ephemeral streams. Intermittent streams is another name for seasonal streams, and their flow depends upon the season. The characters of the stream include profile, ranking, gradient, meander, and stream load. Streams play a crucial role in habitat conservation.

Key Differences

  1. The river is a large flowing body of water, whereas stream is a small smooth body of water.
  2. The river is more in-depth, while the stream is shallower.
  3. The river is the most significant type of streams; on the flip side, the stream is small in comparison to the river.
  4. River overflow can cause floods; on the other hand, there is no highlighted disadvantage of streams.
  5. Rivers’ movement is in more large banks. Conversely, the stream moves in narrow banks.
  6. The shape of the river depends upon waterbeds, whereas riverbeds define the form of the stream.
  7. Many streams from the river, while streams fall into rivers.
  8. Rivers are a source of fresh water; on the other hand, the streams contain any water.
  9. Rivers carry more debris, whereas streams carry less waste.


River and Stream are both flowing water bodies. A river is a large, more profound, natural, and freshwater flowing organization that maintains the river cycle. The stream is small, shallower flowing water body crucial for habitat conservation in the ecosystem.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson