Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
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
Gray, speckled, translucent gelatinous blob cut in half to show structure
Species Types
Scientific Name
Freshwater species in the phylum Bryozoa
Description
Bryozoans are tiny, filter-feeding invertebrates. They create colonies that can be mossy, branching, or round and jellylike.
Media
deertoe
Species Types
Scientific Name
Truncilla truncata
Description
A common mussel in some areas, deertoe have decorative green markings.
Media
fragile papershell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leptodea fragilis
Description
A widespread mussel that relies on freshwater drum as host fish for the developing young.
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.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Various species in the genus Hydra
Description
We’ve all seen aquariums and pictures of tropical saltwater invertebrates such as corals, jellyfish and anemones—but did you know that there are similar creatures living in the freshwater habitats of Missouri?
Media
mucket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Actinonaias ligamentina
Description
One of the most widespread and numerous mussels in southern Missouri.
Media
pink mucket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis abrupta
Description
This endangered native mussel lives in flowing waters of large streams among gravel and cobble.
Media
plain pocketbook
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis cardium
Description
The plain pocketbook is one of the most common and widespread mussels in our state. It is oval, relatively large, and occurs frequently.
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.
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.