Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 results
Media
Photo of a northern, also called virile, crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius virilis (formerly Oronectes virilis)
Description
The virile crayfish is large, reddish brown or green, and lacks prominent markings. The pincers are green with orange tips and are studded with whitish knobs. Paired dark blotches run along the abdomen. This species is widespread.
Media
Photo of a water nymph crayfish, side view of specimen carefully arranged against black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius nais (formerly Orconectes nais)
Description
The water nymph crayfish is normally found in streams but can also be found in a variety of other aquatic habitats. It is greenish brown or brown with no prominent markings. Its known distribution in Missouri is spotty.
Media
lilliput
Species Types
Scientific Name
Toxolasma parvus
Description
These diminutive mollusks are the smallest of Missouri’s freshwater mussels.
Media
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
Photo of a longpincered crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius longidigitus (formerly Orconectes longidigitus)
Description
The longpincered crayfish is large and colorful, with very long, slender, blue-green pincers that are studded with prominent yellowish knobs. It is restricted to the White River basin in the Ozarks.
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
Photo of a ramshorn snail on a wet rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gyraulus, Helisoma, Menetus, Micromenetus, Planorbula spp.
Description
Ramshorn snails are easy to identify at a glance, because the shell is a flat, disklike coil. Like other pulmonate aquatic snails, they lack the hard horny “trapdoor” possessed by other types of aquatic snails.
Media
Two Chinese mysterysnails, out of water, resting on a white surface, with a ruler nearby for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (syn. Bellamya chinensis)
Description
The Chinese mysterysnail is a nonnative invasive species quickly taking over urban waters throughout the state. Never release aquarium species or aquarium water into natural aquatic habitats. Learn about and practice clean boating techniques so that you do not accidentally spread invasive aquatic species.
Media
Photo of backswimmer, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 32 North American species in the family Notonectidae
Description
Sometimes called “water bees” or “water wasps,” backswimmers are predaceous and can deliver a painful bite if mishandled. True to their name, they swim belly-up, and their backs are keeled like a boat, which makes back-swimming easier.
Media
Photo of a predaceous diving beetle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the beetle family Dytiscidae
Description
Like many aquatic insects, these large oval beetles prey voraciously on other aquatic organisms. Excellent swimmers, they fly well, too, and are often attracted to lights.
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.