As rice fields are managed for improved rice production, many studies on aquatic organisms in the floodwater have been restricted to agronomically important members such as blue-green algae (BGA) and Azolla, and ecological studies on common aquatic organisms were relatively limited to specific group members. In the present paper, studies on all the aquatic organisms in the floodwater, from protozoa to insects and fishes, were reviewed worldwide from the viewpoint of rice field ecology, paying attention to their populations, seasonal variations, antagonistic relations and biomass, and the effect of field management. Most studies conducted in India and in the Southeast Asian countries dealt with the BGA and green algal populations. In contrast, protozoa and aquatic animals were extensively studied in rice fields in Europe. Japanese studies in the past were intermediate between the previously cited studies. They generally described specific groups depending on the authors’ interests, and surprisingly few studies dealt with the community level and prey-predator relationships. Field management such as fertilizer and pesticide application, water management and plowing was found to play a major role in determining the populations of aquatic organisms. Overview of research on aquatic organisms in the floodwater of rice fields suggests several directions for future studies.