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Life in Freshwater

Spire Shell (Potamopyrgus sp)

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Spire Shell

This tiny snail is easily overlooked as it can look like dark gravel, up to 4mm in length. In a white dish they may start to move but so slowly you have to be aware that they could be there. A few species exist but they are difficult to tell apart. They can be found in ponds, lakes and rivers. The very close relative, Hydrobia, is found in huge abundance in estuaries and saltmarshes where they feed on bacteria in the mud. It is believed that these salt tolerant ones were derived from the freshwater variety. Most life evolved from the sea on to land or through freshwater. It is unusual for species to evolve the otherway.

Spire shells are operculate snails which mean that they have an operculum, i.e. a thin horny plate that closes behind them when they retract into the shell, giving some protection. They have gills for obtaining oxygen. they have separate sexes. They feed on microscopic plant life, algae and bacteria attached to stones.

See also Great Pond Snail, and Nerite Shells










Operculate snail

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