Freshwater Molluscan Shells


The general range of the thiaridae is circum-tropical, and many of the species are extremely widespread. Their dispersal is facilitated by the fact that all are parthenogenic females. Melanoides tuberculata (Müller 1774), similar to M. maculata, below, is a common aquarium snail. Among the genera are the following;

Thiara; East Africa to Polynesia, some species also very wide ranging.
Melanoides; Southern Europe, Africa
Brotia; Southeast Asia
Terebia; south Asia, Oceania
Sermyla; southeast Asia, Oceania
Sermylasma; Australia
Pseudopotamis; Australia
Melanatria; Madagascar
Fijidoma; Fiji Islands
Tylomelania; Celebes

Cubaedomus; Cuba
Aylacostoma; Central and South America
Doryssa; South America (see Pleuroceridae)
Hemisinus; South America


Melanoides denisoniensis
(Brot, 1877), Queensland,
  Thiara balonnensis (Conrad,
1850), Queensland, Australia.
  Syrmylasma venustula (Brot, 1877),
Queensland, Australia

Southeast Asia

(Brandt, 1968)
  Brotia pagodula (Gould, 1847)   Brotia henriettae
(Gray, 1834)

An internet search for Brotia pagodula and B. henriettae yields a number of German aquariist sites. It appears that there is a substantial trade in several Southeast Asian species to supply that market as of 2008. Shell characteristics suggest the specimens pictured here were part of that trade, and that they may have matured in their natural environment prior to being collected and shipped off. (accessed Sept. 2008) indicates that Brotia pagodula requires constantly moving highly oxygenated water and that most die after 6 months in an aquarium. If they are not bred in captivity it is probably best to avoid them.

Two specimens obtained from diferent sources, identified as
Brotia costula (Rafinesque, 1833), (left), and Brotia
(Rafinesque, 1833), (right), from Malaysia, and
Bangladesh, respectively. Both of these morphologies fall within
the very variable subspecies Brotia (Brotia) costula costula.
  Brotia insolita (Brot, 1868)
Cambodian rivers. Brandt (1974)
lists ten species and four additional
subspecies within the genus Brotia.

Geoff Macaulay provides the following information regarding Brotia costula.

Brotia (Brotia) costula (Rafinesque, l833), is a large and widespread snail in the family Thiaridae (?) [Banarescu does not mention Brotia in his discussion of either Thiaridae or Pleuroceridae.] The best description I have is in Archiv fur Molluskenkunde 105, I-IV, 1-423, The Non Marine Aquatic Mollusca of Thailand by Rolf A. Brandt (1974). To briefly summarise this - This is an extremely variable species and also the largest Brotia. There are a great many synonyms and a wide distribution from North India, Burma, South China, continental South East Asia to Sumatra, Java and Borneo. It occupies many different habitats. Brandt recognises 3 races: Brotia costula costula (Rafinesque 1833), B. c varicosa (Troschel 1837) and B. c peninsularis Brandt l974. Synonyms for costula costula include variabilis Benson, herculea Gould, indica Souleyet, corrugata Reeve, jullieni Deshayes, and peguensis Morelet.

Also see Köhler and Glaubrecht's 2006 paper on the systematics of Brotia, placing the genus in the family Pachychilidae:


Thiara winteri Von Dem Busch, 1842,
Philippines, x2
  Thiara, unknown sp.,
Philippines, x2.
  Thiara, unknown sp., Philippines. Small
shell, x4.

Adult, front and back, and immature individuals, more magnified. Unknown Thiara species,
probably T. amarula, T. terpischore, or T. macrospira. Photos and ID's provided by Don Barclay.

Melanoides torulosa
(Bruguiere, 1789)
Unknown species, Philippines    

Unknown Melanoides sp.
  Melanoides maculata
(Bruguiere, 1789), Philippines.


Melanoides granifera, (Lamarck, 1822) Philippines.

Thiara cancellata, (Roeding, 1798)
cleaned with bleach, from
the Philippines. Projections are shelly

Another presumptive Thiara cancellata(?) Java
rivers. The thin projections are periostracal (soft organic)

South America

Hemisinus eduardsi
(Lea, 1852), Brazil,
slightly enlarged.
  Aylacostoma pulcher
(Reeve, 1860), Brazil,
slightly enlarged.
  Aylacostoma francana
(Ihering, 1909). Sao
Paulo State, Brazil. x3.


Pilsbry and Bequaert (1927) list 23 species and 8 additional subspecies of Melanoides for the African continent outside Lake Nyassa. They include an additional list of 38 species (in several dubious genera) for that lake compiled from Bourguignat, but add "We do not care to add new name combinations for a host of merely mutational forms" They felt the task of determining the actual number of species in Lake Nyassa, taking into account variation typical within species, was outside the scope of their work. Below is a small sample of those figured from the rest of the continent.

  Left to right:
Melanoides anomala (Dautzenberg and Germain, 1914) 8 mm
M.liebrechtsi (Dautzenberg, 1901) 24 mm.
M. bavayi (Dautzenberg and Germain, 1919) ? mm
M. nsendweensis consobrina (Dupuis and Putzeys 1900) 13.5 m


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