Bithynia tentaculata

Bithynia tentaculata
Bithynia tentaculata
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Caenogastropoda

clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Littorinimorpha

Superfamily: Rissooidea
Family: Bithyniidae
Genus: Bithynia
Species: B. tentaculata
Binomial name
Bithynia tentaculata
(Linnaeus, 1758)[2]

Bulimus tentaculatus[3]

Bithynia tentaculata, common names the mud bithynia or common bithynia, or faucet snail[4] is a relatively small species of freshwater snail with gills and an operculum, an aquatic prosobranch gastropod mollusk in the family Bithyniidae.



  • Bithynia tentaculata f. codia
  • Bithynia tentaculata f. excavata
  • Bithynia tentaculata f. gigas
  • Bithynia tentaculata f. producta Menke, 1828

Shell description

Shells of Bithynia tentaculata

The height of shell is usually no larger than 12–15 mm. The snail is sexually mature by the time the height of shell reaches 8 mm in size.[3][5][6][7]

The width of the shell is 5–7 mm.[citation needed]

The faucet snail has a shiny pale brown shell, oval in shape, with a relatively large and rounded spire consisting of 5–6 somewhat flattened whorls, no umbilicus, and a very thick lip.[3][5][8] The aperture is less than half the height of the shell.[8]

Adult Bithynia tentaculata possess a white, calcareous, tear-drop to oval-shaped operculum with distinct concentric rings.[3][7][8] The operculum of juveniles, however, is spirally marked.[3] The operculum is always located very close to the aperture of the shell.[3] The animal itself has pointed, long tentacles and a simple foot with the right cervical lobe acting as a channel for water.[3]

Foot of Bithynia tentaculata


Indigenous distribution

Distribution: palearctic.

  • Croatia[9]
  • Czech Republic - least concern (LC)[10]
  • Germany - common species in the whole Germany, but it is in listed as endangered (gefährdet) in Saxony and in Thuringia[11][12]
  • Greece
  • Poland
  • Netherlands[13]
  • Scandinavia
  • Slovakia
  • Ukraine
  • British Isles: Great Britain and Ireland
  • ...

Nonindigenous distribution

Bithynia tentaculata is nonindigenous in the United States[4] and in Canada.

Great Lakes Region: Bithynia tentaculata was first recorded in Lake Michigan in 1871, but was probably introduced in 1870.[14] It spread to Lake Ontario by 1879, the Hudson River by 1892, and other tributaries and water bodies in the Finger Lakes region during the 20th century.[3][14] It was introduced to Lake Erie sometime before 1930.[15][16] This snail’s range extends in 1992 from Quebec and Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and New York.[3] It has been recorded from Lake Huron, but only a few individuals were found in benthic samples from Saginaw Bay in the 1980s and 1990s.[17]

In the Mid-Atlantic Region it is found in Lake Champlain, widespread across New York, Potomac River in Virginia. Established in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland (Ruiz 2000).[citation needed]



This snail is found in freshwater slowly running waters: rivers and standing water bodies: lakes. The species flourishes especially in calcium-rich waters.

Commonly found in freshwater ponds, shallow lakes, and canals. This species is found on the substrate in fall and winter (including gravel, sand, clay, mud or undersides of rocks) and on aquatic macrophytes (including milfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum and muskgrass, Chara spp.) in warmer months.[3][7] [18] It lives mostly in shoals, but is found at depths up to 5 m.[3] Bithynia tentaculata can inhabit intertidal zones in the Hudson River[3] In general, the faucet snail inhabits waters with pH of 6.6–8.4, conductivity of 87–2320 μmhos/cm, Ca2+ of 5–89 ppm, and Na+ of 4–291 ppm.[3] It can potentially survive well in water bodies with high concentrations of K+ and low concentrations of NO3-.[3] In the Saint Lawrence River, it tends to occur in relatively unpolluted, nearshore areas[19] and amongst dreissenid mussel beds.[20]

Feeding habits

This species functions as both a scraper and a collector-filterer, grazing on algae on the substrate, as well as using its gills to filter suspended algae from the water column. When filter feeding, algae is sucked in, condensed, and then passed out between the right tentacle and exhalant siphon in pellet-like packages which are then eaten.[3] The ability to filter feed may play a role in allowing populations of the faucet snail to survive at high densities in relatively eutrophic, anthropogenically influenced water bodies.[3] Bithynia tentaculata feeds selectively on food items.[21] The faucet snail is known in Eurasia to feed on black fly larvae.[22]

Life cycle

Bithynia tentaculata is dioecious (it has two separate sexes) and lays its eggs on rocks, wood and shells in organized aggregates arranged in double rows, in clumps of 1–77. Egg-laying occurs from May to July when water temperature is 20°C or higher, and sometimes a second time in October and November by females born early in the year. The density of eggs on the substrate can sometimes reach 155 clumps/m2. Fecundity may reach up to 347 eggs and is greatest for the 2nd year class. Eggs hatch in three weeks to three months, depending on water temperature. Oocytes develop poorly at temperatures of 30 - 34°C. Growth usually does not occur from September to May. The lifespan varies regionally and can be anywhere from 17 – 39 months.[3][23]

The faucet snail has the potential to be a good biomonitor for contaminants such as Cd, Zn, and methylmercury (MeHg) because there are good correlations between environmental concentrations and snail tissue concentrations with respect to these toxic compounds.[24][25]


In its native Eurasian habitat, the faucet snail is host to many different species of digeneans, cercariae, metacercariae, cysticercoids, and other parasites.[26][27][28]

  • As first intermediate host for Prosthogonimus ovatus[29]
  • As an intermediate host for Sphaeridiotrema globulus[30]
  • As first intermediate hosts and as second intermediate host for Cyanthocotyle bushiensis.[30][31]
  • As second intermediate host for Echinostoma revolutum[32]
  • As intermediate host for Syngamus trachea[33]
  • Capillariidae, probably Capillaria obsignata[34]
  • Bithynia tenataculata is a suspected intermediate host for Leyogonimus polyoon[35]

Other interspecific relationship

Natural dispersal of this snail is known to occur by passive transport in birds.[36]

Bithynia tentaculata is capable of detecting the presence of molluscivorous leeches through chemoreception and of closing its operculum to avoid predation.[37]


This article incorporates public domain text from reference.[4]

  1. ^ 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Cited 22 March 2007.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 10th edition. - Vermes. Testacea: 700-781. Holmiae. (Salvius).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Jokinen, E. 1992. The Freshwater Snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of New York State. The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, The New York State Museum, Albany, New York 12230. 112 pp.
  4. ^ a b c Rebekah M. Kipp & Amy Benson. 2008. Bithynia tentaculata. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. Revision Date: 2/28/2007.
  5. ^ a b Mackie, G.L., D.S. White and T.W. Zdeba. 1980. A guide to freshwater mollusks of the Laurentian Great Lakes with special emphasis on the genus Pisidium. Environmental Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Duluth, Minnesota 55804. 144 pp.
  6. ^ Peckarsky, B.L., P.R. Fraissinet, M.A. Penton and D.J. Conklin Jr. 1993. Freshwater Macroinvertebrates of Northeastern North America. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York State. 442 pp.
  7. ^ a b c Pennak, R. 1989. Fresh-water Invertebrates of the United States, 3rd ed. Protozoa to Mollusca. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York State. 628 pp.
  8. ^ a b c Clarke, A.H. 1981. The freshwater molluscs of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 447 pp.
  9. ^ Beran L. (2009). "The first record of Anisus vorticulus (Troschel, 1834) (Gastropoda: Planorbidae) in Croatia?". Malacologica Bohemoslovaca 8: 70. PDF.
  10. ^ Juřičková L., Horsák M. & Beran L., 2001: Check-list of the molluscs (Mollusca) of the Czech Republic. Acta Soc. Zool. Bohem., 65: 25-40.
  11. ^ Glöer P. & Meier-Brook C. (2003) Süsswassermollusken. DJN, pp. 134, page 106, ISBN 3-923376-02-2
  12. ^ Bithynia tentaculata, Verbreitungsatlas Schleswig-Holstein 1991, accessed 19 October 2008.
  13. ^ Bithynia tentaculata
  14. ^ a b Mills, E.L., J.H. Leach, J.T. Carlton and C.L. Secor. 1993. Exotic species in the Great Lakes: a history of biotic crises and anthropogenic introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1):1-54.
  15. ^ Carr, J. F. and J. K. Hiltunen. 1965. Changes in the bottom fauna of western Lake Erie from 1930 to 1961. Limnology and Oceanography 10: 551-569.
  16. ^ Krieger, K. A. 1985. Snail distribution in Lake Erie, USA, Canada; the influence of anoxia in the southern central basin nearshore zone. Ohio Journal of Science 85(5):230-244.
  17. ^ Nalepa, T.F., D.L. Fanslow, M.B. Lansing, G.A. Lang, M. Ford, G. Gostenik and D.J. Hartson. 2002. Abundance, Biomass, and Species Composition of Benthic Macroinvertebrates Populations in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, 1987-1996. NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystem Research, Michigan, Ann Arbor. 32 pp.
  18. ^ Vincent, B., H. Rioux and M. Harvey. 1981. Factors affecting the structure of epiphytic gastropod communities in the St. Lawrence River (Quebec, Canada). Hydrobiologia 220:57-71.
  19. ^ Vaillancourt, G. and E. Lafarriere. 1983. Relationship between the quality of the environment and the benthic groupings in the littoral zone of the St. Lawrence River, Canada. Naturaliste Canadien (Quebec) 110(4):385-396.
  20. ^ Ricciardi, A., F.G. Whoriskey, and J.B. Rasmussen. 1997. The role of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in structuring macroinvertebrate communities on hard substrata. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54: 2596–2608.
  21. ^ Brendelberger, H. 1997. Contrasting feeding strategies of two freshwater gastropods, Radix peregra (Lymnaeidae) and Bithynia tentaculata (Bithynidae). Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 140(1):1-21.
  22. ^ Pavlichenko, V.I. 1977. The role of Hydropsyche angustipennis (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) larvae in destroying black flies in flowing reservoirs of the Zaporozyhe oblast, USSR. Ekologiya (Moscow) 1:104-105.
  23. ^ Korotneva, N.V. and I.N. Dregol’skaya. 1992. Effect of the elevated temperature in the habitat of fresh water mollusk Bithynia tentaculata L. on its oogenesis. Tsitologiya 34(2):30-36.
  24. ^ Desy, J.C., J.-F. Archambault, B. Pinel-Alloul, J. Hubert and P.G.C. Campbell. 2000. Relationships between total mercury in sediments and methyl mercury in the freshwater gastropod prosobranch Bithynia tentaculata in the St. Lawrence River, Quebec. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57(Suppl. 1):164-173.
  25. ^ Flessas, C., Y. Couillard, B. Pinel-Alloul, L. St-Cyr and P.G.C. Campbell. 2000. Metal concentrations in two freshwater gastropods (Mollusca) in the St. Lawrence River and relationships with environmental contamination. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57(Suppl. 1):126-137.
  26. ^ Mattison, R.G., T.S. Dunn, R.E.B. Hanna, W.A. Nizami and Q.M. Ali. 1995. Population dynamics of freshwater gastropods and epidemiology of their helminth infections with emphasis on larval parmphistomes in northern India. Journal of Helminthology 69(2):125-138.
  27. ^ Morley, N. J., M. E. Adam and J. W. Lewis. 2004. The role of Bithynia tentaculata in the transmission of larval digeneans from a gravel pit in the Lower Thames Valley. Journal of Helminthology 78(2):129-135.
  28. ^ Toledo, R., C. Munoz-Antoli, M. Perez and J.G. Esteban. 1998. Larval trematode infections in freshwater gastropods from the Albufera Natural Park in Spain. Journal of Helminthology 72(1):79-82.
  29. ^ Prosthogonimus ovatus (Parasite Species Summary)
  30. ^ a b Sauer, J.S., Cole, R.A., and Nissen, J.M., 2007, Finding the exotic faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata): Investigation of waterbird die-offs on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007–1065, 3 p.
  31. ^ Cyanthocotyle bushiensis (Parasite Species Summary)
  32. ^ Echinostomum revolutum (Parasite Species Summary)
  33. ^ Syngamus trachea (Parasite Species Summary)
  34. ^
  35. ^ Chapter 35 - Miscellaneous Parasitic Diseases - Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases
  36. ^ von Proschwitz, T. 1997. Bithynia tentaculata (L.) in Norway – a rare species on the edge of its western distribution, and some notes on the dispersal of freshwater snails. Fauna (Oslo) 50(3):102-107.
  37. ^ Kelly, P.M. and J.S. Cory. 1987. Operculum closing as a defense against predatory leeches in four British freshwater prosobranch snails. Hydrobiologia 144(2):121-124.

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