Field Guide

Aquatic Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 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
Clam shrimp on a white fabric surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cyclestherida, Laevicaudata, and Spinicaudata (orders or suborders)
Description
Clam shrimp have their carapace shaped like a pair of clam shells and they can close it tightly when disturbed. But they are not clams: they have tiny, jointed shrimplike legs and bristly, feathery antennae.
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 a devil crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lacunicambarus aff. diogenes (syn. Cambarus diogenes)
Description
The powerfully built devil crayfish is usually a uniform olive or tan, without obvious blotches or spots. It digs underground burrows, often with mud chimneys, and has a wide distribution.
Media
Photo of a gray-speckled crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Faxonius palmeri (formerly Orconectes palmeri)
Description
The gray-speckled crayfish is gray with numerous greenish-black speckles and blotches. A pair of large blotches are present near the back of the head, and another pair occur where the carapace joins the abdomen. In Missouri, it is found only in the southeastern section.
Media
Photo of a gravid Mississippi grass shrimp in an aquarium.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Palaemonetes kadiakensis
Description
Of Missouri’s two species of freshwater shrimp, the Mississippi grass shrimp is by far the most common and widespread.
Media
Photo of an Ohio shrimp with small grayish pincers in the foreground.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Macrobrachium ohione
Description
Of Missouri’s two species of freshwater shrimp, the Ohio River shrimp is certainly the rarest. It was thought to be extirpated from our state but was rediscovered recently in the Mississippi River.
Media
Photo of a painted devil crayfish standing on a sandy substrate
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lacunicambarus ludovicianus (syn. Cambarus ludovicianus)
Description
The painted devil crayfish is a burrowing lowland species. In Missouri, it is known from only a few locations in the Bootheel. Its overall color is olive green to blue, with reddish and cream markings.
Media
Photo of a paintedhand mudbug carefully arranged against a black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lacunicambarus polychromatus (syn. Cambarus polychromatus)
Description
The paintedhand mudbug is a burrowing crayfish known in Missouri from only a few locations along the eastern border of the Bootheel. It is tan to olive green, and the abdominal segments and tail fan are trimmed with red. The pincers have red spots and red tips.
Media
Photo of a red swamp crawfish or crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Procambarus clarkii
Description
Adult red swamp crawfish are dark red (nearly black on the carapace) and have a wedge-shaped black stripe on the abdomen. Juveniles are a uniform gray, sometimes overlain by dark wavy lines. In Missouri it lives in the Bootheel.
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.