Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Tadpole shrimps ( Triopsidae : Lepidurus )

Diagnostic features

Lepidurus is a primitive crustacean rarely seen in New Zealand fresh waters. They have a shape reminiscent of horseshoe crabs although they are not at all related. They have a large carapace that wraps around most of the body, and a multi-segmented abdomen with two long caudal filaments (tails) protruding from the carapace. They swim with paddle-like limbs under the body.

Typical habitats

Lepidurus is usually found in temporary ponds (North and South Islands) rather than permanently flowing streams.


They are omnivores, feeding on plant detritus and small aquatic invertebrates.

Indicator value

Lepidurus are associated with temporary ponds, and new records are of conservation interest. They are not likely to be useful indicators of water quality and have not been assigned any tolerance values.