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Corbicula australis (Deshayes, 1830)

Diagnostic features

This species differs from the invasive C. fluminea in its thinner, often more oval shell with finer concentric sculpture.

Juveniles of this species are sometimes mistaken for members of the Sphaeriidae but differ in having a more solid shell that has distinct concentric sculpture. They can also be mistaken for young hyriids, but again the closely-spaced concentric ridges are distinctive, as is the more oval shape and heterodont hinge.


Corbicula australis (Deshayes, 1830)

Common name: Australian Corbicula, Little Mussel

Class Bivalvia

Subclass Heteroconchia

Superorder Heterodonta

Order Cardiida

Superfamily Cyrenoidea

Family Cyrenidae

Genus Corbicula Mühlfeldt,1811.

Original name: Cyrena australis Deshayes, 1830. Deshayes, G. P. 1830. Encyclopédie Méthodique. Histoire naturelle des vers.  Paris : Agasse Vol. 2 pp. 1-136 [50].

Type locality: Nepean River, New South Wales

Synonyms: Cyclas nepeanensis Lesson, 1831; Cyrena debilis Gould, 1850; Corbicula ovalina Deshayes, 1855; Corbicula minor Prime, 1861; Corbicula angasi Prime, 1864; Corbicula rivina Clessin, 1877; Corbicula sublaevigata Smith, 1882; Corbicula deshayesii Smith, 1882; Corbicula desolata Tate, 1887; Corbicula faba Bullen, 1904; Corbiculina permena Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina esculenta Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina mussoni Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina subovalina Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina aramita Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina semara Iredale, 1943; Corbiculina finkeana Iredale, 1943

State of taxonomy

This taxon is widely distributed in the Australian continent. Given the considerable variability and geographic spread it is possible that cryptic species may eventually be identified.

Previously referred to the genus Corbiculina which is now regarded as a synonym of Corbicula.

Biology and ecology

Shallow burrower in sand and gravel in rivers. Sometimes a pest because it can clog irrigation pipes. The biology of this species has been studied (Tham, 1971) and like other corbiculids it is a suspension feeder and the larvae are brooded.

Additional information on the biology and ecology of members of this family can be found in Fauna of Australia, vol. 5A, p. 355.


In river systems throughout mainland Australia. Although the southwest corner does not have any collection records on our map, a few specimens from that area have been seen.


As listed above, there are several names that are regarded as synonyms of this species by Smith (1992). However, no in-depth revision of this group has been undertaken.

The Asian species, Corbicula fluminea, can be distinguished from C. australis in having a rather more triangular shape than most populations of C. australis. Also Corbicula fluminea, can be distinguished from C. australis in having coarser and more widely spaced concentric ribbing.

Further reading

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

Byrne, M., Phelps, H., Church, T., Adair, V., Selvakumaraswamy, P. & Potts, J. (2000). Reproduction and development of the freshwater clam Corbicula australis in southeast Australia. Hydrobiologia 418: 185-197.

Huber, M., Langleit, A. & Kreipl, K. (2015). Compendium of Bivalves 2. A Full-Color Guide to the Remaining Seven Families. A Systematic Listing of 8,500 Bivalve Species and 10,500 Synonyms. Hackenheim, Germany, ConchBooks.

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

Korniushin, A. V. & Glaubrecht, M. (2003). Novel reproductive modes in freshwater clams: brooding and larval morphology in Southeast Asian taxa of Corbicula (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Corbiculidae). Acta Zoologica 84: 293-315.

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

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.

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

Tham, S. Y. (1971). Reproduction in Corbiculina angasi Prime (Mollusca: Bivalvia). BSc(Hons) thesis, Department of Zoology, Monash University, Victoria.

Woolford, T. (1984). A fouling bivalve, Corbiculina australis (Deshayes, 1830), in the Renmark irrigation pipelines: its biology and control options for the Renmark Irrigation Trust. Unpublished Honours Thesis. Zoology Department, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia.