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Haitia acuta (Draparnaud, 1805)

Diagnostic features

Haitia can be distinguished by its completely smooth shell and mottled mantle which can usually be readily seen through the semi-transparent shell. The animal has digitations (finger-like processes) along the mantle edge against the columella and there is no false gill (pseudobranch). Unlike planorbids, the animal, if damaged when alive, does not produce red blood.


Haitia acuta (Draparnaud, 1805)

Common name: Acute Bladder Snail; Fountain Snail

Class Gastropoda

Subclass Heterobranchia

Order Hygrophila

Superfamily Planorboidea

Family Physidae

Subfamily: Physinae

Genus Haitia Clench & Aguayo, 1932 (Type species: Physa (Haitia) elegans Clench & Aguayo, 1932).

Original name: Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805. Draparnaud, J. P. R. (1805). Histoire Naturelle des Mollusques Terrestres et Fluviatiles de la France.  Paris : L. Colas, i-viii, 1-164 pp.

Type locality: Garonne River, France (introduced from North America).

Synonyms: Physella heterostropha (Say, 1825)

State of taxonomy

Taylor (2003) transferred Physella acuta to the genus Haitia Clench & Aguayo, 1932. This introduced species is often referred to as Physa acuta or Physella acuta in the literature.

Biology and ecology

On water weeds, rocks, wood and other vegetation in rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, drains, ditches and similar habitats. Very pollution tolerant and may even be found in sewerage treatment plants. Often abundant.  and similar habitats. Often abundant. Feeds on algae and detritus. Egg mass a 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 and Taylor (2003).


Worldwide. Native to north-eastern United States and adjacent Canada. H. acuta has been introduced widely, and is now in Europe, Asia Minor, Africa, the Mascarene and Macaronesian Islands, India, Nepal, marginal East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Brasil and Argentina.

Introduced to Australia, probably from North America or Europe. Occurs throughout much of Australia, mainly (but not exclusively) in coastal drainages in agricultural and urban areas where it is usually abundant.


This introduced species is abundant in many waterways in temperate Australia and is often referred to as Physa or Physella acuta.

Haitia is easily confused with species of Glyptophysa (Planorbidae) which have similar-shaped, sinistral shells. Haitia can be distinguished by its completely smooth shell (Glyptophysa often - but not always - has some periostracal ornament) and mottled mantle which can usually be readily seen through the semi-transparent shell (Glyptophysa has a uniformly dark-coloured mantle). The animal also has digitations (finger-like processes) along the mantle edge against the columella (smooth in Glyptophysa) and there is no false gill (pseudobranch) (present in Glyptophysa). The animal, if damaged when alive, does not produce coloured blood, whereas Glyptophysa has red- coloured blood.

Species of Isidorella should also be compared, but differ from Haitia in the same characters given above for Glyptophysa.

Haitia mexicana - also from North America - is widespread throughout the world as well and is indistinguishable from H. acuta in shell morphology however H. acuta differs in the elongate sarcobelum in the reproductive system which is a feature not seen in H. mexicana. (Taylor, 2003)  Because of the similarity of both species it is currently unknown if Haitia mexicana is present in Australia. Other species such as Physella gyrina (Say, 1821) could also possibly be undetected.

Further reading

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

Campbell, N. J. (1977). Identifying liver fluke snails. Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales 88: 24-26.

Clench, W. J. & Aguayo, C. G. (1932). Proceedings of the New England Zoological Club 13: 37.

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.

Kershaw, R. C. (1991). Snail and Slug Pests of Tasmania, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

Ng, T.H., Tan, S.K., Wong, W.H., Meier, R., Chan, S-Y., Tan, H.H. and Yeo, D.C.J. 2016. Molluscs for Sale: Assessment of Freshwater Gastropods and Bivalves in the Ornamental Pet Trade. PLOS One. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0161130.

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. 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.

Taylor D. W. (2003). Introduction to Physidae (Gastropoda: Hygrophila). Biology, classification, morphology. Revista de Biología Tropical (International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation) 51 (Supplement 1): 1-299.

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.