Print Fact Sheet
Glyptophysa Crosse, 1872

Diagnostic features

Shell sinistral, medium-sized and globose to elongate, smooth with microscopic wrinkles, or with spiral threads or ridges and periostracal setae. Low to elongate spire. Members of the genus possess a twist or fold on the columella, a feature lacking in Isidorella and Physella. Whorls round or carinate. Copulatory organ with a flagellum, lacking an accessory bursa, penis uniramous with terminal stylet, bursa copulatrix globose; rectal ridge present; single renal ridge on roof of pulmonary cavity

Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) differs from the otherwise similar native genus Isidorella in the penial apparatus with a penial stylet and an accessory flagellum. Isidorella lacks a stylet and an accessory structure but the penis has two lobes.


Class Gastropoda

Subclass Heterobranchia

Order Hygrophila

Superfamily Planorboidea

Family Planorbidae

Subfamily: Bulininae

Genus Glyptophysa Crosse, 1872

Subgenus Glyptophysa

Type species: Physa petiti Crosse, 1872 (= Glyptophysa petiti (Crosse, 1872)

Original reference: Crosse, H. (1872). Description d’un genre nouveau et d’espèces inédites, provinant de la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Journal de Conchyliologie 20: 148-154.

Type locality: New Caledonia.

Synonyms: Physastra Tapparone-Canefri 1883; Lenameria Iredale, 1943; Glyptamoda Iredale, 1943; Tasmadora Iredale, 1943; Mutalena Iredale, 1944.

Oppletora is treated as a separate subgenus of Glyptophysa following Walker (1988).

Biology and ecology

On water weeds, wood, etc., in ponds, billabongs, swamps, and sluggish streams and rivers. Feeds on algae and detritus. Egg mass typically a bean(kidney)-shaped jelly strip containing many small eggs. Development direct.

Additional information on the biology and ecology of members of this family can be found in Fauna of Australia, vol. 5B, p. 1072-1074.


Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Moluccas, Philippines, Sumatra, islands of South Pacific east to Tahiti, and Malaysia (introduced).


This genus is similar to the common introduced Haitia (Physidae) in that both have similar-shaped, sinistral shells. Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) can be distinguished by the shell not being completely smooth (as it is in Haitia), Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) often having some periostracal ornament and microscopic wrinkles or spiral ridges in the case of Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) aliciae. Haitia has a mottled mantle which can usually be seen through the semi- transparent shell whereas Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) has a uniformly dark-coloured mantle. The animal of Haitia has digitations (finger-like processes) along the mantle edge against the columella whereas this is smooth in Glyptophysa. (Glyptophysa). Haitia lacks a false gill (pseudobranch) which is present in Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) and all planorbids. The animal of Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa),if damaged when alive, has red-coloured blood whereas Haitia does not produce coloured blood.

The taxonomy of Glyptophysa (Glyptophysa) is very poorly understood. A large number of species-group names are available, and it is quite possible that more species occur in Australia. 

Some forms of Glyptophysa, particularly from Tasmania, have inflated shells with relatively low spires and superficially resemble Isidorella .

Glyptophysa appears to be disappearing from urban areas and areas heavily affected by agriculture and industry, where it is commonly replaced by the introduced Haitia.

Further reading

Baker, F. C. (1945). The molluscan family Planorbidae. Urbana USA, University of Illinois Press.

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

Hubendick, B. (1955). Phylogeny of the Planorbidae. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 28: 453-542.

Jenkins, M. K. (1991). The decline of floodplain gastropod populations in the Lower River Murray, with reference to Glyptophysa connica (Walker 1988 (sic!)) and Physa acuta (Draparnaud 1805). Thesis, BSc Hon., Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of Adelaide.

Ponder, W. F., Clark, S. A. & Dallwitz, M. J. (2000). Freshwater and estuarine molluscs: an interactive, illustrated key for New South Wales. Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing.

Shea, M. (1995). Freshwater molluscs of Sydney. Australian Shell News 88: 4-6.

Smith, B. J. (1992). Non-marine Mollusca. Pp. i-xii, 1-408 in W. W. K. Houston. Zoological Catalogue of Australia, 8. Canberra, Australian Government Publishing Service.

Smith, B. J. and Kershaw, R. C. (1979). Field guide to the non-marine molluscs of south eastern Australia. Australian National University Press, Canberra, Australia.

Smith, B. J. & Kershaw, R. C. (1981). Tasmanian Land and Freshwater Molluscs. Hobart, University of Tasmania.

Stevens, M. M. (2002). Pests of rice, with particular reference to Isidorella newcombi. Pp. 217-351 in G. M. Barker. Molluscs as Crop Pests. Wallingford, UK, CAB International.

Walker, J. C. (1988). Classification of Australian buliniform planorbids (Mollusca: Pulmonata). Records of the Australian Museum 40: 61-89.

Zukowski, S., Walker, K. F. 2009 Freshwater snails in competition: alien Physa acuta (Physidae) and native Glyptophysa gibbosa (Planorbidae) in the River Murray, South Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 60: 999-1005.