Black Sandshell

(Ligumia recta) Lamarck, 1819
Two Black Sandshells

K.S. Cummings, Illinois Natural History Survey

Other Common Names:
Black sand mussel; Long John; Honest John; Sow's ear; Lady's slipper.
Black sandshells are common in medium to large rivers such as the Mississippi where waters flows continously through. Most often, they are embedded in gravel or firm sand.
Can grow up to 8 inches (20.3 cm), in the above picture the male is 4.6 inches (11.7 cm) and the female is 4.8 inches (12.2cm).
Outer Shell Color:
Dark green, brown or black. Some mussels may have green rays on them.
Inner Shell Color:
White, pink, pinkish, or purple. Toward the end farthest from where the two halves meet (beak), there may be a combination of these colors.
Shell Thickness:
Shell Outline:
Much longer than wide and looks somewhat swollen. The end closest to the beak of both sexes are round, while their opposite end varies slightly. The end farthest to the beak of the female is rounded, while that of the male is more pointed. The elastic part of the shell the connects the two halves together at the top is straight. The bottom of the shell may be either straight or curved.
Shell Surface:
Outer surface is smooth and shiny.
Scientific Description:
Elongate, moderately inflated brown or black shell. Female is postbasally rounded, male is tapered. Postbasal mantle margin is broad with papillae, especially female.
Similar Looking Mussels:
Spectacle Case; Spike; Western Pondmussel.
Host Fish:
Rock Bass, Common Carp, Green Sunfish, Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, White Crappie
Widely distributed but uncommon in much of the Midwest.
Minnesota State Listing:
Special concern.
Federal Listing:

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