Cipangopaludina chinensis
Cipangopaludina chinensis
(Chinese mysterysnail)
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Cipangopaludina chinensis (Gray, 1834)

Common name: Chinese mysterysnail

Synonyms and Other Names: Chinese mysterysnail, Oriental mysterysnail, Asian applesnail, Chinese applesnail, C. chinensis malleatus, Viviparus malleatus, V. chinensis malleatus, Bellamya chinensis, B. chinensis malleatus

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Species of the genus Cipangopaludina can be identified by their relatively large globose shells and concentrically marked opercula (Burch 1980). Cipangopaludina chinensis has a width to height ratio of 0.74–0.82, the shell has 6.0–7.0 whorls, and the inner coloration is white to pale blue (Clarke 1981, Jokinen 1992). This species has a small and round umbilicus and the spire is produced at an angle of 65–80º (Jokinen 1992). Cipangopaludina chinensis exhibits light coloration as a juvenile and olive green, greenish brown, brown or reddish brown pigmentation as an adult (Clarke 1981, Jokinen 1992). In juveniles, the last shell whorl displays a distinct carina, and the shell contains grooves with 20 striae/mm between each groove (Clarke 1981, Smith 2000). Juveniles also have a detailed pattern on their periostracum consisting of 2 apical and 3 body whorl rows of hairs with long hooks on the ends, distinct ridges and many other hairs with short hooks (Jokinen 1984).           

The shell of C. chinensis grows allometrically (the height increasing faster than the width) and does so at a decreased rate in comparison with C. japonica, such that the adult shell is less elongate than that of its congener (Jokinen 1982). The radula also may differ between C. japonica and C. chinensis, but there is so much variation even within one species that it is not a good diagnostic characteristic (Smith 2000). However, as a general guide, in one North American population, the radula of C. chinensis had seven small cusps on the marginal tooth and a large central cusp with four small cusps on either side (Jokinen 1982).

Size: can reach 65 mm

Native Range: From Southeast Asia to Japan and eastern Russia.

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Established in San Francisco Bay, California (Ruiz 2000). Mid-Atlantic Region: Lake Erie; various ponds in Connecticut and Massachusetts; Whitewater River in Augusta, Kansas (Distler 2003); Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, Maryland (Ruiz 2000); Cocheco River, New Hampshire; Delaware River, New Jersey; Hudson River and Niagara River, New York; Columbia River, Oregon (Apalategui 2004); Schuykill River and Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania; Annaquatucket River, Rhode Island; and a few isolated locations in Maine and Virginia.

Mid-Atlantic Region: various ponds in Connecticut and Massachusetts; Potomac River, Maryland; Cocheco River, New Hampshire; Delaware River, New Jersey; Hudson River and Niagara River (1931), New York; the Catawba, Deep, Haw, Neuse, Roanoke, Yadkin, and lower Pee Dee rivers in North Carolina (B. Jones, pers. comm); Schuykill River and Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania; Annaquatucket River, Rhode Island; and a few isolated locations in Maine and Virginia.

Great Lakes Region: The first record of C. chinensis in the Great Lakes dates from some time between 1931 and 1942 from the Niagara River, which flows into Lake Ontario (Mills et al. 1993). Cipangopaludina chinensis occurs in Lake Erie, where it was introduced some time prior to 1968 (Wolfert and Hiltunen 1968). Cipangopaludina chinensis was found for the first time in Oneida Lake, which flows to Lake Ontario, in 1977-1978 (Clarke 1978, Jokinen 1992). Jokinen (1982) records occurrences of populations of C. chinensis in the drainages of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan, from the states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New York.

Ecology: Cipangopaludina chinensis feeds non-selectively on organic and inorganic bottom material as well as benthic and epiphytic algae, mostly by scraping, but diatoms are probably the most nutritious food it ingests at sites in eastern North America (Jokinen 1982).

It prefers lentic water bodies with silt, sand, and mud substrate in eastern North America, although it can survive in slower regions of streams as well (Jokinen 1982, Stanczykowska et al. 1971). This species has been found in waters in eastern North America with pH 6.5–8.4, calcium concentration of 5–97 ppm, magnesium concentration of 13–31 ppm, oxygen concentration of 7–11 ppm, depths of 0.2–3 m, conductivity of 63–400 μmhos/cm, and sodium concentration of 2–49 ppm (Jokinen 1982, Jokinen 1992, Stanczykowska et al. 1971).  It can tolerate conditions in stagnant waters near septic tanks (Perron and Probert 1973). Prefers slow-moving freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes with soft, muddy or silty bottoms.

This species is ovoviviparous (Jokinen 1992). Females live up to 5 years, while males live up to 3, occasionally 4 years (Jokinen 1982, Jokinen 1992). Female fecundity is usually greater than 169 young in a life time, and may reach up to 102 for any given brood (Jokinen 1982). All females generally contain embryos from May to August and young are born from June through October in eastern North America in shallow water, then females begin migrating to deeper water for the winter in the fall (Jokinen 1982, Jokinen 1992, Stanczykowska et al. 1971). Females bear more young in their 4th and 5th years than in other years (Jokinen 1992).           

In Korea, this species is known to be a host to the metacercariae Echinostoma cinetorchis, an intestinal trematode parasitic in humans (Chung and Jung 1999). It is also a common host to larvae of echinostomes in the Kinmen islands (Chao et al. 1993).

Means of Introduction: This species was sold in Chinese food market in San Francisco in the late 1800s; collected as early as 1914 in Boston.  Probably released from an aquarium into the Niagara River between 1931 and 1942 (Mills et al. 1993).

Status: Isolated populations in Lake Erie and upper St. Lawrence River. Cipangopaludina chinensis is established in Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan drainages.

Impact of Introduction:  

A) Realized: To date, this species has exerted no recorded impacts in the Great Lakes and is considered relatively “benign” with respect to its potential to greatly change or influence ecosystems and native species (Mackie 1996). Clog screens of water intake pipes.

B) Potential: Vectors for the transmission of parasites and diseases. In the Boston area, this species is a regular host to the common native parasite Aspidogaster conchicola, which is a first time record in North America for a gastropod acting as host to this species (Michelson 1970). Negative interactions with native gastropods are also possible.

Remarks: Prefers slow-moving freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes with soft, muddy or silty bottoms.  Can have up to 7 whorls; females are livebearers giving birth to crawling young.  This species was sold in Chinese food market in San Francisco in the late 1800s; collected as early as 1914 in Boston.

Taxonomy of the introduced populations of Oriental mysterysnails is confusing and there are many scientific names in use. There has also been debate regarding whether or not C. chinensis and C. japonica in North America are synonymous and simply different phenotypes of the same species. This database considers the two as separate species.  Smith (2000) argues that Cipangopaludina is a subgenus of Bellamya; however, because most North American literature does not use the genus Bellamya to refer to these introduced snails, Oriental mysterysnails discussed here are referred to by the name Cipangopaludina. Literature cited in this database regarding the Chinese mysterysnail may employ the following names: C. chinensis, C. chinensis malleatus, C. chinensis malleata, Viviparus malleatus, V. chinensis malleatus, B. chinensis and B. chinensis malleatus.

References: (click for full references)

Burch, J.B. 1980. A guide to the fresh water snails of the Philippines. Malacological Review 13(1-2):121-144.

Chao, D., L.C. Wang, and T.C. Huang. 1993. Prevalence of larval helminths in freshwater snails of the Kinmen Islands. Journal of Helminthology 67(4):259-264.

Chung, P.R., and Y. Jung. 1999. Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (Gastropoda: Viviparidae): a new second molluscan intermediate host of a human intestinal fluke Echinostoma cinetorchis (Trematoda: Echinostomatidae) in Korea. Journal of Parasitology 85(5):963-964.

Clarke, A.H. 1978. The Asian apple snail Cipangopaludina chinensis (Viviparidae) in Oneida Lake, New York. Nautilus 92(3):134.

Clarke, A.H. 1981.  The freshwater molluscs of Canada.  National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 447 pp.

Cordeiro, J.R. 2002. Proliferation of the Chinese mystery snail, Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (Reeve, 1863) throughout Connecticut [Abstract]. (R.T. Dillon, ed.) Program and Abstracts of the 68th Meeting of the American Malacological Society, Charleston, SC. p. 37. Available

Gracyzk, T.K., and B. Fried. 1998. Echinostomiasis: a common but forgotten food-borne disease. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 58(4): 501-504.

Havel, J.E. 2011. Survival of the exotic Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata) during air exposure and implications for overland dispersal by boats. Hydrobiologia DOI: 10.1007/s10750-010-0566-3. 8pp.

Johnson, P.T.J., J.D. Olden, C.T. Solomon, and M.J. Vander Zanden. 2009. Interactions among invaders: community and ecosystem effects of multiple invasive species in an experimental aquatic system. Oecologia 159: 161-170.

Jokinen, E.H. 1982. Cipangopaludina chinensis (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) in North America, review and update. Nautilus 96(3):89-95.

Jokinen, E.H. 1984. Periostracal morphology of viviparid snail shells. Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 103(4):312-316.

Jokinen, E.H. 1992. The Freshwater Snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of New York State. The University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, The New York State Museum, Albany, New York 12230. 112 pp.

Jones, B. 2017. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (personal communication).

Karatayev, A.Y., L.E. Burlakova, V.A. Karatayev, and D.K. Padilla. 2009. Introduction, distribution, spread, and impacts of exotic freshwater gastropods in Texas. Hydrobiologia 619: 181-194.

Mackie, G.L. 1996. A review of impacts of freshwater Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) introduced into North America. 6th International Zebra Mussel and Other Aquatic Nuisance Species Conference, Dearborn, Michigan, March 1996.

Mackie, G.L. 2000. Introduction of molluscs through the import for live food. Pp. 305-313 in R. Claudi and J.H. Leach, eds. Nonindigenous Freshwater Organisms: Vectors, Biology and Impacts. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, Florida. 464 pp.

Michelson, E.H. 1970. Aspidogaster conchicola from fresh water gastropods in the USA. Journal of Parasitology 56(4):709-712.

Mills, E.L., J.H. Leach, J.T. Carlton, and C.L. Secor. 1993. Exotic species in the Great Lakes: a history of biotic crises and anthropogenic introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1):1-54.

Perron, F., and T. Probert. 1973. Viviparus malleatus, new record in New Hampshire. Nautilus 87(3):90.

Rivera, CJR.  2008.  Obstruction of the upstream migration of the invasive snail Cipangopaludina chinensis by high water currents.  Unpublished practicum.  Accessed  10/28/13.

Solomon, C.T., J.D. Olden, P.T.J. Johnson, R.T. Dillon Jr. 2009. Distribution and community-level effects of the Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis) in northern Wisconsin lakes. Biological Invasions 12: 1591-1605.

Smith, D.G. 2000. Notes on the taxonomy of introduced Bellamya (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) species in northeastern North America. Nautilus 114(2):31-37.

Stanczykowska, A., E. Magnin, and A. Dumouchel. 1971. Study of 3 Viviparus malleatus (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia) populations of the Montreal region. Part 1: Growth, fecundity, biomass and annual production. Canadian Journal of Zoology 49(11):1431-1441.

Wolfert, D.R., and J.K. Hiltunen. 1968. Distribution and abundance of the Japanese snail Viviparus japonicus, and associated macrobenthos in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science 68(1):32-40.

Author: Kipp, R.M., A.J. Benson, J. Larson, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 5/18/2017

Citation Information:
Kipp, R.M., A.J. Benson, J. Larson, and A. Fusaro, 2018, Cipangopaludina chinensis (Gray, 1834): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 5/18/2017, Access Date: 1/22/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/22/2018].

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