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 Major Groups | Crustacea (crustaceans) | Malacostraca (malacostracans) | Amphipoda (sideswimmers)

Amphipoda (side-swimmers)

Major Group: Crustacea
Minor Group: Malacostraca
Order: Amphipoda
Amphipods are abundant in both marine and freshwater habitats.

Descriptive Features:

  • carapace absent
  • thoracomere 1 fused to head (bearing maxillipeds)
  • eyes sessile
  • antenna 1 typically biramous (inner ramus reduced)
  • maxillipeds with basal and ischial endites
  • thoracopods 2-8 (pereopods 1-7) uniramous, coxae forming plates
  • pereopods modified
  • pleopods 4-6 modified as uropods
  • females smaller males
  • Total length:  
  • Taxonomic Checklist:


    Bogidiellidae (underground waters)

    Distribution: Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas, SA, WA, ACT

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 3. Austrochiltonia subtenuis and A. australis (Hyalidae) are euryhaline, tolerating salinity levels up to 25% and 30%. They have been recorded from a salt lake as well as freshwaters.

    Functional Feeding Group: shredders, scrapers, filtering collectors

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Amphipoda species occur in lotic and lentic surface waters including springs, streams, temporary and permanent ponds. They also occur in underground waters of caves and aquifers. Some species can occur in both estuaries and freshwater. Side-swimmers are found in littoral and benthic areas under stones, wood and decaying vegetable matter, or in burrows in sandy or gravely soil below the water surface. Some species are found in the interstitial waters.
    Feeding ecology: Amphipoda species are omnivores feeding mostly on decaying vegetation but also opportunistically on other animals. Side-swimmers use a variety of feeding methods such as shredding, grazing and filter feeding.
    Habit: Amphipod crustaceans usually position themselves upside down or sideways, giving rise to the common name of ‘side-swimmers’.
    Life history: Males guard their female mates closely, even locking together during mating with the 2nd gnathopods. Eggs are laid after the female moults, so the male guards her from time of mating to completion of fertilisation after moulting. Egg development, hatching and the first few moults take place within the brood pouch (marsupium). Amphipoda young are released from the marsupium in full adult form when the female next moults.
    Information Sources: King & Bradbury 2012, Lowry & Stoddart 2003, Gooderham & Tsyrlin 2002, Sloane & Norris 2002
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