Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Luminescent limpet ( Latiidae : Latia )

Diagnostic features

The shell of Latia is paua-shaped, and larger, thicker and darker than other freshwater “limpets” found in New Zealand. This is the world’s only freshwater species capable of producing a bioluminescent slime. This glowing slime is only released when the limpet is disturbed and is therefore a startle or distraction defense mechanism.

Typical habitats

Latia are abundant in stony-bottom streams in most regions of the North Island, but not in the South Island.


Latia are grazers, scraping organic matter including diatom algae from stone surfaces.

Indicator value

Latia are found in a range of water quality conditions, but they are most common in stony streams with good water quality. They have tolerance values of 3 (hard bottom sites) and 6.1 (soft bottom sites).