Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
Media
Photo of an aquatic isopod in an aquarium, crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Freshwater members of the crustacean order Isopoda
Description
Everyone knows about terrestrial sowbugs and pillbugs, but many isopod species are aquatic. Missouri has several isopods that live in streams, ponds, rivers, and caves.
Media
Photo of a bristly cave crayfish, viewed from the side.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cambarus setosus
Description
The bristly cave crayfish is a whitish crayfish with small, unpigmented eyes and long, slender pincers with noticeable setae (bristles). It lives in caves in the Springfield Plateau region of the Ozarks.
Media
Photo of a Caney Mountain cave crayfish out of water on a wet, red-coated cave rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orconectes stygocaneyi
Description
One of three species of cave crayfish in Missouri, the Caney Mountain cave crayfish is known from only one location. Like many other cave invertebrates, this species is whitish and is blind.
Media
Photo of a spothanded crayfish viewed from above on white background.
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 36 species in Missouri
Description
Crayfish are freshwater aquatic invertebrates that look a lot like small lobsters, to which they are related. There are about 36 species of crayfish in Missouri.
Media
Photo of several prosobranch pond snails crawling on a rock.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Over 20 Missouri species in former subclass Prosobranchia
Description
Gilled snails are one of two main groups of aquatic snails in Missouri (the other group is the "lunged" snails). Gilled snails, or prosobranchs, breathe with gills and possess a hard trapdoor-like operculum. They are most common in the Ozarks.
Media
Photo of pulmonate snail crawling on rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Over 30 Missouri species in former subclass Pulmonata
Description
Pulmonate, or lunged snails breathe via a lunglike pulmonary cavity, and they lack the hard trapdoor-like operculum found in gilled snails. Except for in the Ozarks, pulmonate snails predominate in most of the aquatic regions in our state.
Media
Photograph of several mosquito larvae resting at water surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
There are about 50 species of mosquitoes in our state.
Description
The larvae of mosquitoes, often called “wrigglers,” have a large head and thorax and a narrow, wormlike abdomen; they typically hang just below the water surface. When disturbed, they wriggle downward.
Media
Photo of a Salem cave crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cambarus hubrichti
Description
The Salem cave crayfish lives in caves in the Missouri Ozarks. Its localized distribution makes its populations vulnerable to catastrophes that might pollute or damage their cave environment.
Media
Photo of amphipod on a rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Species in the crustacean order Amphipoda
Description
Often overlooked by people, but eagerly sought by fish, Missouri’s amphipods resemble shrimplike sowbugs. Scuds live in various aquatic habitats, and several species inhabit caves.
Media
Photo of a spothanded crayfish viewed through creekwater.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius punctimanus (formerly Orconectes punctimanus)
Description
The spothanded crayfish is moderately large and usually has a noticeable black spot on each pincer near the base of the movable finger. In Missouri, it is found mostly in Ozark waterways in the southeastern quarter of the state, from Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren counties south.
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.