Traditional methods based on an element-wise parameterization of the material distribution applied to the topology optimization of fluidic systems often suffer from slow convergence of the optimization process, as well as robustness issues at increased Reynolds numbers. The local influence of the design variables in the traditional approaches is seen as a possible cause for the slow convergence. Non-smooth material distributions are suspected to trigger premature onset of instationary flows which cannot be treated by steady-state flow models. In the present work, we study whether the convergence and the versatility of topology optimization methods for fluidic systems can be improved by employing a parametric level-set description. In general, level-set methods allow controlling the smoothness of boundaries, yield a non-local influence of design variables, and decouple the material description from the flow field discretization. The parametric level-set method used in this study utilizes a material distribution approach to represent flow boundaries, resulting in a non-trivial mapping between design variables and local material properties. Using a hydrodynamic lattice Boltzmann method, we study the performance of our level-set approach in comparison to a traditional material distribution approach. By numerical examples, the parametric level-set approach is validated through comparison with traditional material distribution based methods. While the parametric level-set approach leads to similar optimal designs, the present study reveals no general improvements of the convergence of the optimization process and of the robustness of the nonlinear flow analyses when compared to the traditional material distribution approach. Instead, our numerical experiment suggests that a continuation method operating on the volume constraint is needed to achieve optimal designs at higher Reynolds numbers.