Print Fact Sheet

Alathyria condola Iredale, 1943

Diagnostic features

This species is distinguished by its heavy, subcircular and swollen (MHI near 65%) shell; maximum length to about 120 mm; dorsal posterior end not winged, usually excavated posterior to the beaks; hinge teeth strong.


Alathyria condola Iredale, 1943

Common name: Freshwater mussel

Class Bivalvia

Subclass Heteroconchia

Superorder Palaeoheterodonta

Superfamily Hyrioidea

Family Hyriidae

Subfamily: Velesunioninae

Genus Alathyria Iredale, 1934

Original name: Alathyria condola Iredale, 1943. Iredale, T. (1943). Guide to the freshwater shells of New South Wales. Australian Naturalist 11: 85-95.

Type locality: Murrumbidgee River, Narrandera, New South Wales.

State of taxonomy

The last major taxonomic revision of Australian freshwater mussels was by McMichael & Hiscock (1958). Based on the available molecular results, Walker et al. (2014) pointed out that a re-assessment of Australian hyriids is needed.

Biology and ecology

Shallow burrower in sediments of rivers, creeks and dams (usually in flowing water). Suspension feeder. Larvae (glochidia) are brooded in the gills of the female and, when released, become parasitic on fish gills before dropping to the sediment as young mussels.

Additional information on the biology and ecology of members of this family can be found in Fauna of Australia, vol. 5A, pp. 296-298.


Lachlan and Murrumbidgee Rivers, New South Wales. There is unconfirmed evidence that the species has spread toward the Murray River through the channels of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Further reading

Balla, S. A. & Walker, K. F. (1991). Shape variation in the Australian freshwater mussel Alathyria jacksoni Iredale (Bivalvia, Hyriidae). Hydrobiologia 220: 89-98.

Beesley, P. L., Ross, G. J. B. & Wells, A., Eds. (1998). Mollusca: The Southern Synthesis. Parts A & B. Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing.

Haas, F. (1969). Superfamilia Unionacea. Das Terreich, 88 (1-10), 1-663.

Iredale, T. (1934). The freshwater mussels of Australia. Australian Zoologist 8: 57-78 pls 3-6.

Iredale, T. (1943). A basic list of the fresh water Mollusca of Australia. Australian Zoologist 10: 188-230.

Lamprell, K. & Healy, J. (1998). Bivalves of Australia, volume 2. Leiden, Backhuys Publishers.

McMichael, D. F. & Hiscock, I. D. (1958). A monograph of the freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Pelecypoda) of the Australian region. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 9: 372-508.

Negri, A. P. & Jones, G. J. (1995). Bioaccumulation of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins from the cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis by the freshwater mussel Alathyria condola. Toxicon 33: 667-678.

Smith, B. J. & Kershaw, R. C. (1979). Field guide to the non-marine Molluscs of South-eastern Australia. Canberra, A.N.U. Press

Walker, K. F. (1981a). The ecology of freshwater mussels in the River Murray. Australian Water Research Council Technical Papers 63: 1-119.

Walker, K. F. (1981b). The distribution of freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Pelecypoda) in the Australian zoogeographic region. Pp. 1233-1249 in A. Keast. Ecological Biogeography of Australia. The Hague, Dr W. Junk.

Walker, K. F. (2004). A guide to the provisional identification of the freshwater mussels (Unionoida) of Australasia. Albury, Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

Walker, K. F., Byrne, M., Hickey, C. W. & Roper, D. S. (2001). Freshwater Mussels (Hyriidae) of Australasia. Pp. 5-31 in G. Bauer & Wächtler, K. Ecology and Evolution of the Freshwater Mussels Unionoida. Ecological Studies. Berlin, Springer-Verlag.

Walker, K. F., Jones, H. A. &  Klunzinger, M. W. (2014). Bivalves in a bottleneck: taxonomy, phylogeography and conservation of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) in Australasia. Hydrobiologia 735:61–79.