Key to Macroinvertebrate Life in Ponds and Rivers in Utah

Single Shelled Organisms - Snails

Snails belong to the class Gastropoda, within the phylum Mollusca, and are identified by a single shell often formed into a spiral or coil. 

Five families of snails are commonly found in Utah.   

Family Picture Description Habitat

Hydrobiidae

spring snails

1-8 mm

Opening on right side of spiral.

Shell is smooth with an operculum. 

Color is uniform, light to dark brown

Found in springs and rivers throughout Utah.

Lymnaeidae

pond snails

10-55 mm

Opening on right side of spiral.

Shell is thin and generally has an elongate spire, no operculum. 

Color varies with species

Found in all types of freshwater habitats

Physidae

pond snails

8-25 mm

Opening on left side of spiral, has glossy shell with raised spire and large aperture and no operculum. 

Color varies with species

Found in ponds and rivers.

Planorbidae

orb snails

2-25 mm

No obvious spiral, coil is fat, no operculum. 

Color varies with species

Found in wetlands and ditches throughout Utah.

Thiaridae

red-rimmed melanoides

INVASIVE

5-50 mm

Shell is at least twice as long as it is wide

Shell is light brown with many reddish-brown spots.

Originally from the Middle East and Africa

Found in warm springs. In Utah this family has been collected in Fish Springs and Goshen and Gandy Warm Springs.

Valvatidae

round-lipped snail

1-3 mm

Opening on right side of spiral.

Spiral is subdiscoidal.

Aperture is circular, with an operculum.  

The outermost layer is mostly green.

Found in streams and lakes in northern Utah.

Viviparidae

Chinese mystery snails

INVASIVE

up to 60 mm

Black pigmentation rims the entire lip, shell is smooth, thin and strong in structure

Color is uniform light to dark olive-green color

Found partially buried in mud of lakes, ponds, ditches, or  slow moving streams.


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