Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 35 results
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Zebra Mussel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dreissena polymorpha
Description
Zebra mussels are named for their shells, which have alternating light and dark bands. They are a highly invasive nonnative species. Learn how to prevent their spread.
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Two pairs of Asian clam shells, still hinged together, showing exterior and interior
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corbicula fluminea
Description
The Asian clam is a nonnative, invasive species that lives in a variety of aquatic habitats. It has thick shells with distinctly ridged, concentric rings and a yellowish-brown to dark brown shell covering.
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fatmucket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lampsilis siliquoidea
Description
The fatmucket was a favorite species harvested for the button industry in the early 1900s.
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giant floater
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pygandon grandis
Description
When a floater dies, this large mussel with a thick shell will actually rise to the water surface and float as it decays.
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maple leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quadrula quadrula
Description
The mapleleaf spawns in the summer, using catfish as a host.
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paper pondshell
Species Types
Scientific Name
Utterbackia imbecillis
Description
Unlike most other freshwater mussels, this species is hermaphrodic: An individual mussel can be both male and female.
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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.
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pond mussel
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ligumia subrostrata
Description
This widespread species is one of the few Missouri mussels successful in shallow ponds and lakes.
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white heelsplitter
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lasmigona complanata
Description
The shell of this mollusk is large and impressive in overall size. Although fairly flat, it can be more than 8 inches long. A large wing on the heelsplitter can be painful if you step on it.
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.