Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 8 of 8 results
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Bluefer
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potamilus purpuratus
Description
Like the pink heelsplitter and fragile and pink papershells, the bluefer uses freshwater drum as a host.
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elephantear mussel half-buried in a gravel substrate
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elliptio crassidens
Description
Today found only in the Meramec River, the elephantear has been classified as Endangered in Missouri and is a candidate for federal Endangered status.
Media
pond mussel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bivalve molluscs in order Unionoida
Description
Secretive and seldom seen, freshwater mussels are extraordinarily diverse in Missouri. We have nearly 70 species within our borders. Many are declining, and several are endangered.
Media
pink heelsplitter
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potamilus alatus
Description
A large dorsal wing and purple lining make identification of this widespread mussel easy.
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pink papershell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potamilus ohiensis
Description
This species enjoys the same geographic distribution in our state as the pink heelsplitter, and it generally resembles that species, too. But as the name suggests, the pink papershell usually has a thinner shell and is smaller. Also, it prefers rather shallow water with a good current.
Media
Photograph of Purple Wartyback freshwater mussel shell exterior view
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cyclonaias tuberculata
Description
Before buttons were made of plastic, they were made of shell. Because only white buttons were in demand, the coppery-purple shell of this species made it worthless for the button industry.
Media
scaleshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leptodea leptodon
Description
Rarely seen, this Endangered freshwater mussel has a thin and delicate shell that is strikingly beautiful inside.
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spike
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elliptio dilatata
Description
Nacre color varies from purple to pink to white. In smaller rivers, the shell is much thinner.
See Also

About Aquatic Invertebrates in Missouri

Missouri's streams, lakes, and other aquatic habitats hold thousands of kinds of invertebrates — worms, freshwater mussels, snails, crayfish, insects, and other animals without backbones. These creatures are vital links in the aquatic food chain, and their presence and numbers tell us a lot about water quality.