MolluscIreland - land and freshwater
  • Valvata (Cincinna) piscinalis (O. F. Müller 1774) Common valve snail
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Valvata (Cincinna) piscinalis
© Dr Roy Anderson
Valvata (Cincinna) piscinalis
© Dr Roy Anderson

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A broad, operculate shell with loose coiling and an open umbilicus, forming a squat cone. Surface yellow-brown, matt, with fine radial striae. Lives on the bottom in large lakes and rivers.

Key characteristics

  • A broader than tall, medium-sized operculate shell with a narrow, deep umbilicus
  • Yellow-brown in colour but often darker from deposits
  • Surface with fine radial striae which are more pronounced in var. alpestris Küster found in Loughs Neagh and Erne
  • Live animal possesses a feathery external gill


4.5-6 mm.

World Distribution

Found across the whole of mainland Europe and Siberia to Pacific coastsof Asia. Distribution type: Eurasian Wide Temperate (65).

GBIF distribution map [open in new tab]

Irish Distribution

Widespread and an important constituent of the diet of wintering wildfowl on larger lakes such as Lough Neagh (Winfield & Winfield, 1994). Rare or absent in the extreme west, south-west and north.


  • Usually on the bottom, in slow-flowing, weed-free water and to considerable depths in lakes
  • Tolerates soft water in large lake systems but rare in small habitats and not in acid or dystrophic conditions

Red List status

  • Least concern (lc).

Wikipedia link

Wikipedia page for Valvata piscinalis

 Anderson, R., (2016). Valvata (Cincinna) piscinalis (O. F. Müller 1774). [In] MolluscIreland. Accessed on 2024-03-03.