Mollusks | Mollusca

After the Arthropoda, Mollusca is the second largest phylum of invertebrate animals with members on land and sea. Mollusca is the largest marine phylum, with numerous creatures, such as squids, snails, scallops, and more, which make up 23% of all marine organisms. The defining features of Mollusca, include a soft body with a hand and a foot and a hard exoskeleton. Throughout history, Mollusca have been a source of food, jewelry, currency, tools, and even pets. However, Mollusca have also been pests to gardens and boats and occasionally invasive species wrecking havoc on ecosystems.

What do mollusks eat?

A mollusk’s diet may vary depending on its species. For example, mollusks that have their body between 2 shells are herbivores that eat algae. Meanwhile, squids and octopuses eat fish and other sea creatures. Mollusk snails can be either herbivores or carnivores.

How do mollusks move?

The way a mollusk moves depends if it lives on land or water. Mollusks that live on land move very slowly on a foot. Mollusks that live in the water eject water out of their body to move themselves. Some mollusks, like oysters and clams, do not move but rather attach themselves to a rock or a surface.

How do mollusks breath?

Aquatic mollusks breath by using gills, called ctenidia that are in their mantle cavity. Mollusks that live on land do not have gills and breathe through their mantle cavity that has a surface lined with blood vessels. Diffusion of air happens through the moist skin of mollusks.

Mollusks Guides
Browse through our curated Mollusks Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Mollusks. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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9.8”-15” | 25-38 cm
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
.5-1 year
Bigfin Reef Squid
38.000
1.400
1.00
1600
3D
Bigfin Reef Squid
13’-26.25’ | 4-8 m
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
Bigfin Squid
800.000
1.400
55450
3D
Bigfin Squid
5.91”-15.35” | 15-39 cm
9.45”-23.62” | 24-60 cm
15”-39” | 38-99 cm
15-31 lb | 6.8-14 kg
1 year
Black Sea Hare
39.000
60.000
99.000
14.000
1.00
5800
3D
Black Sea Hare
.55”-.98” | 1.4-2.5 cm
.59”-1.18” | 1.5-3 cm
3.15”-5.91” | 8-15 cm
1-2 years
Black Slug
2.500
3.000
15.000
2.00
2900
3D
Black Slug
2.36”-3.15” | 6-8 cm
3.94”-4.53” | 10-11.5 cm
7.87”-9.84” | 20-25 cm
2-3 years
California Mussel
8.000
11.500
25.000
3.00
550
3D
California Mussel
18”-23” | 46-58 cm (Arm)
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
California Two-Spot Octopus
58.000
4.000
2.00
1500
3D
California Two-Spot Octopus
19.7”-23.6” | 50-60 cm (Arm)
2.2-3.3 lb | 1-1.5 kg
10-12 months
Caribbean Reef Octopus
60.000
1.500
1.00
1060
3D
Caribbean Reef Octopus
4.7”-7.9” | 12-20 cm
1-3 years
Caribbean Reef Squid
20.000
3.00
1590
3D
Caribbean Reef Squid
6.3”-8.3” | 16-21 cm
.88-1.3 lb | .4-.6 kg
15-20 years
Chambered Nautilus
21.000
0.600
20.00
15400
3D
Chambered Nautilus
9.8’-13.1’ | 3-4 m
2-3 years
Cockatoo Squid
400.000
3.00
730
3D
Cockatoo Squid
2.75”-3.5” | 7-9 cm (Arm)
.5-1.5 lb | .23-.69 kg
3-5 years
Coconut Octopus
9.000
0.690
5.00
4450
3D
Coconut Octopus
30’-49’ | 9-15 m
330-1091 lb | 150-495 kg
Colossal Squid
1500.000
495.000
137100
3D
Colossal Squid
6’-6.6’ | 1.83-2 m
~2.2 lb | 1 kg
3-5 years
Common Blanket Octopus
200.000
1.000
5.00
630
3D
Common Blanket Octopus
6”-10” | 15-25 cm
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
Common Cuttlefish
25.000
4.000
2.00
9100
3D
Common Cuttlefish
29.9”-39.4” | 76-100 cm (Arm)
6.6-22 lb | 3-10 kg
1-2 years
Common Octopus
100.000
10.000
2.00
22300
3D
Common Octopus
.43”-1.06” | 1.1-2.7 cm
.43”-1.06” | 1.1-2.7 cm
.63”-1.5” | 1.6-3.8 cm
4-10 years
Common Periwinkle
2.700
2.700
3.800
10.00
3500
3D
Common Periwinkle
1.85”-2.56” | 4.7-6.5 cm
1.57”-2.36” | 4-6 cm
3.15”-4.33” | 8-11 cm
.11-.22 lb | .05-.1 kg
10-15 years
Common Whelk
6.500
6.000
11.000
0.100
15.00
2950
3D
Common Whelk
39”-51” | 99-130 cm
44-66 lb | 20-30 kg
1 year
Diamond Squid
130.000
30.000
1.00
750
3D
Diamond Squid
7.9”-11.8” | 20-30 cm
2-13 lb | .9-5.9 kg
3-5 years
Dumbo Octopus
30.000
5.900
5.00
94040
3D
Dumbo Octopus
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm (Arm)
.22-.88 lb | .1-.4 kg
1-2 years
East Pacific Red Octopus
50.000
0.400
2.00
660
3D
East Pacific Red Octopus
9.5”-2.6” | 2.4-6.6 cm
1.77”-4.92” | 4.5-12.5 cm
3”-8” | 7.6-20.3 cm
.88-1.98 lb | .4-.9 kg
10-20 years
Eastern Oyster
6.600
12.500
20.300
0.900
20.00
2000
3D
Eastern Oyster
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
1.5-2 years
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
13.000
0.400
2.00
5800
3D
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
.98”-1.77” | 2.5-4.5 cm
.98”-1.57” | 2.5-4 cm
1.97”-3.54” | 5-9 cm
.015-.03 lb | .007-.015 kg
2-5 years
Garden Snail
4.500
4.000
9.000
0.015
5.00
7100
3D
Garden Snail
3.46”-5.12” | 8.8-13 cm
3.54”-4.72” | 9-12 cm
7.87”-11.81” | 20-30 cm (Overall)
.44-1 lb | .2-.45 kg
5-9 years
Giant African Snail
13.000
12.000
30.000
0.450
9.00
10800
3D
Giant African Snail
7’-13’ | 2.13-3.96 m (Arm)
22-110 lb | 10-50 kg
3-5 years
Giant Pacific Octopus
396.000
50.000
5.00
35000
3D
Giant Pacific Octopus
3’-5’6” | .91-1.68 m
33’-46’ | 10-14 m
440-2,000 lb | 200-907 kg
2-5 years
Giant Squid
168.000
1400.000
907.000
5.00
88000
3D
Giant Squid
15.75”-17.7” | 40-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
Glass Octopus
45.000
0.030
14800
3D
Glass Octopus
11.8”-17.7” | 30-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
1 year
Greater Argonaut
45.000
0.030
1.00
1320
3D
Greater Argonaut
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
.02-.22 lb | .01-.1 kg
2-3 years
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
15.000
0.100
3.00
650
3D
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
4.9’-8.2’ | 1.5-2.5 m
99-110 lb | 45-50 kg
1-2 years
Humboldt Squid
250.000
50.000
2.00
28600
3D
Humboldt Squid
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm
.22-1.1 lb | .1-.5 kg
1 year
Japanese Flying Squid
50.000
0.500
1.00
1600
3D
Japanese Flying Squid
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
1 year
Japanese Squid
15.000
1.00
2100
3D
Japanese Squid
3.15”-5.51” | 8-14 cm
3.15”-5.91” | 8-15 cm
5”-9” | 12.7-22.9 cm
.88-1.98 lb | .4-.9 kg
10-15 years
Knobbed Whelk
14.000
15.000
22.900
0.900
15.00
860
3D
Knobbed Whelk
.39”-.79” | 1-2 cm
.55”-1.02” | 1.4-2.6 cm
3.94”-7.87” | 10-20 cm
2-4 years
Leopard Slug
2.000
2.600
20.000
4.00
8200
3D
Leopard Slug
1.57”-8.27” | 4-21 cm
1.57”-8.27” | 4-21 cm
2.5”-16” | 6.4-40.6 cm
1.54-1.98 lb | .7-.9 kg
10-15 years
Lightning Whelk
21.000
21.000
40.600
0.900
15.00
1400
3D
Lightning Whelk
23.6”-27.6” | 60-70 cm
5-20 lb | 2.3-9.1 kg
.75-2 years
Mimic Octopus
70.000
9.100
2.00
16350
3D
Mimic Octopus
4.33”-9.06” | 11-23 cm
5.12”-9.84” | 13-25 cm
6”-12” | 15.2-30.5 cm
3-5 lb | 1.36-2.27 kg
20-40 years
Queen Conch
23.000
25.000
30.500
2.270
40.00
4300
3D
Queen Conch
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
135-165 lb | 61-75 kg
2-10 years
Seven-Arm Octopus
350.000
75.000
10.00
1300
3D
Seven-Arm Octopus
.8”-1” | 2-2.5 cm
~.002 lb | .001 kg
.5-1.5 years
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
2.500
0.001
1.50
1120
3D
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
13”-39.4” | 33-100 cm
Strawberry Squid
100.000
17890
3D
Strawberry Squid
4.3”-10.6” | 11-27 cm
Telescope Octopus
27.000
2440
3D
Telescope Octopus
6”-12” | 15-30 cm
~1 lb | .45 kg
6-10 years
Vampire Squid
30.000
0.450
10.00
79600
3D
Vampire Squid
1.57”-3.15” | 4-8 cm
3.94”-7.87” | 10-20 cm
5”-10” | 12.7-25.4 cm
1-2 lb | .45-.91 kg
30-40 years
White Abalone
8.000
20.000
25.400
0.910
40.00
790
3D
White Abalone
Bigfin Squid (Magnapinna pacifica)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Bigfin Squid compared to other cephalopods

The Bigfin Squid (Magnapinna) is a rarely seen cephalopod that has been nicknamed the ”long-arm squid”. Bigfin Squids hold their arms perpendicular to their body, creating elbows, standing out from other squids. They have a large fin that makes up about 90% of their mantle length. The Bigfin Squid was first seen in 1988 in Northern Brazil at the water depth of 15,535 ft (4,735 m). Not much is known about their feeding behaviors. It is believed that they drag their arms and tentacles across the seafloor to grab edible organisms from the seafloor. Their current population status is unknown.

The Bigfin Squid has an overall length between 13’-26.25’ (4-8 m), mantle length of 11.8”-23.6” (30-60 cm), and weight of .35-3.1 lb (.16-1.4 kg).

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Bigfin Squid
The Bigfin Squid (Magnapinna) is a rarely seen cephalopod that has been nicknamed the ”long-arm squid”. Bigfin Squids hold their arms perpendicular to their body, creating elbows, standing out from other squids. They have a large fin that makes up about 90% of their mantle length.

The Bigfin Squid has an overall length between 13’-26.25’ (4-8 m), mantle length of 11.8”-23.6” (30-60 cm), and weight of .35-3.1 lb (.16-1.4 kg).

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Bigfin Squid
Bigfin Squid (Magnapinna pacifica)
Height:
Width:
Length:
13’-26.25’ | 4-8 m
Depth:
Weight:
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 11.8”-23.6” | 30-60 cm

Scientific Name
Magnapinna pacifica
Lifespan

Drawings include:

Bigfin Squid side elevation, front

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California Mussel (Mytilus californianus)
Comparison drawing of the California Mussel compared to other gastropods

The California Mussel (Mytilus californianus) is an edible mussel and a marine bivalve mollusk. They are endemic to the west coast of North America, as they occur from northern Mexico to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They like high salinity, low sediment conditions on rocky coasts. California Mussels are often found clustered together in large aggregations. Their shells are thick and the coloration is blue with a heavy brown periostracum. The beaks of the shell are often eroded, and the inner surface is blue and lightly pearly. The flesh of the mussel is orange.

California Mussels have a length between 7.87”-9.84” (20-25 cm), width from 3.94”-4.53” (10-11.5 cm), and height of 2.36”-3.15” (6-8 cm). The typical lifespan of the California Mussel is 2-3 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the California Mussel viewed from the front, side, and top
The California Mussel (Mytilus californianus) is an edible mussel and a marine bivalve mollusk. They are endemic to the west coast of North America, as they occur from northern Mexico to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. They like high salinity, low sediment conditions on rocky coasts.

California Mussels have a length between 7.87”-9.84” (20-25 cm), width from 3.94”-4.53” (10-11.5 cm), and height of 2.36”-3.15” (6-8 cm). The typical lifespan of the California Mussel is 2-3 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the California Mussel viewed from the front, side, and top
California Mussel (Mytilus californianus)
Height:
2.36”-3.15” | 6-8 cm
Width:
3.94”-4.53” | 10-11.5 cm
Length:
7.87”-9.84” | 20-25 cm
Depth:
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Mytilus californianus
Lifespan
2-3 years

Drawings include:

California Mussel side elevation, front, top

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Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Leopard Slug to other gastropods

The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) is a slug species native to Europe. Its name translates to ”biggest slug”, as it is among the largest keeled slugs. It is commonly called the Leopard Slug for its light gray or gray-brown color with darker spots and blotches. However, the coloration and exact patterning of the body within the species is variable. Other physical features are a rounded body, pale foot-fringe, and long and slender tentacles. The Leopard Slug is a detrivore; it eats dead plants, fungi, and it is known to pursue other slugs.

Leopard Slugs have a length between 3.94”-7.87” (10-20 cm), body width from .55”-1.02” (1.4-2.6 cm), and height of .39”-.79” (1-2 cm). The typical lifespan of the Leopard Slug is 2-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Leopard Slug in multiple poses
The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) is a slug species native to Europe. Its name translates to ”biggest slug”, as it is among the largest keeled slugs. It is commonly called the Leopard Slug for its light gray or gray-brown color with darker spots and blotches. However, the coloration and exact pattern

Leopard Slugs have a length between 3.94”-7.87” (10-20 cm), body width from .55”-1.02” (1.4-2.6 cm), and height of .39”-.79” (1-2 cm). The typical lifespan of the Leopard Slug is 2-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Leopard Slug in multiple poses
Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)
Height:
.39”-.79” | 1-2 cm
Width:
.55”-1.02” | 1.4-2.6 cm
Length:
3.94”-7.87” | 10-20 cm
Depth:
Weight:
Area:
Scientific Name
Limax maximus
Lifespan
2-4 years

Drawings include:

Leopard Slug side elevation, front, top

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Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Mimic Octopus compared to other cephalopods

The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is a small cephalopod with small horns that extend from each eye. Naturally it has a light brown color, but once it feels threatened it mimics the appearance of other poisonous creatures to scare off any potential predators. It is able to contort itself into various shapes as it does not have a rigid skeleton. The ability to impersonate various aquatic animals is what gave it its name. The Mimic Octopus is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and lives in shallow waters. Mimic Octopuses are carnivorous and their diet is made up of mostly small fish, crabs, worms and crustaceans.

The Mimic Octopus has an overall length between 23.6”-27.6” (60-70 cm), mantle length of 2”-2.4” (5-6 cm), and weight of 5-20 lb (2.3-9.1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Mimic Octopus is between 9 months and 2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Mimic Octopus
The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is a small cephalopod with small horns that extend from each eye. Naturally it has a light brown color, but once it feels threatened it mimics the appearance of other poisonous creatures to scare off any potential predators.

The Mimic Octopus has an overall length between 23.6”-27.6” (60-70 cm), mantle length of 2”-2.4” (5-6 cm), and weight of 5-20 lb (2.3-9.1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Mimic Octopus is between 9 months and 2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Mimic Octopus
Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
Height:
Width:
Length:
23.6”-27.6” | 60-70 cm
Depth:
Weight:
5-20 lb | 2.3-9.1 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2”-2.4” | 5-6 cm

Scientific Name
Thaumoctopus mimicus
Lifespan
.75-2 years

Drawings include:

Mimic Octopus side elevation, front

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Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish compared to other cephalopods

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods of time. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish seems to walk on the ocean floor using their arms rather than swim and has a highly developed sensory system. They are found in Indo-Pacific Ocean including Northern Australia and the surrounding islands. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish is carnivorous and eats fish and crustaceans. Their current conservation status is unknown.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Height:
Width:
Length:
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2.4”-3.1” | 6-8 cm

Scientific Name
Metasepia pfefferi
Lifespan
1.5-2 years

Drawings include:

Flamboyant Cuttlefish side elevation, front

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