Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Leeches ( Glossiphoniidae : Glossiphoniidae )

Diagnostic features

The glossiphoniids are the most common leeches in our fresh waters. Like other leeches they are visibly segmented, very flexible and there is a suction disc at the tail end. The small, pale native Alboglossiphonia is our most common genus, but an introduced glossiphoniid Helobdella is also common in many streams. Helobdella has a more “bumpy” dorsal surface than Alboglossiphonia.

Typical habitats

Glossiphoniids are common in slow-flowing, weedy streams and ponds, particularly in farmland and urban catchments.


The glossiphoniid family of leeches are predators of other freshwater invertebrates.

Indicator value

Glossiphoniids are found in many freshwater habitats including streams and ponds with poor water quality. This family has not been assigned tolerance values but the Subclass Hirudinea (leeches) have low tolerance values of 3 (hard bottom sites) and 1.2 (soft bottom sites).