Disco Clam (species: Ctenoides ales) in Lizard Island area: all known taxa (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Ctenoides ales
Disco Clam

©Anne Hoggett: Ctenoides ales caught mid-"flash" (thin blue line on edge of mantle intermittently visible) in a crevice on the reef slope between Bird and South Islands, Lizard Island Group.

©Lindsey Dougherty: Disco Clam (Ctenoides ales), Lizard Island

©Lindsey Dougherty: Valve of Disco Clam found near living specimens at Lizard Island
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Order Limida
Family Limidae
Genus Ctenoides
Species Ctenoides ales



Distinguishing features

Long orange/red tentacles and mantle; a flashing blue "light" runs along the lip of the mantle caused by the clam revealing then hiding extremely reflective tissue. Always found in crevices, from which the tentacles can protrude.


  • Size data has not been obtained.


Interesting facts

  • These bivalves create a flashing light show by revealing then hiding extremely reflective tissue along the lip of the mantle.


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Web resources


  • Dougherty, L. (2014). Mechanisms, ultrastructure and behavioral flashing in Ctenoides ales: ‘disco clams’, Malacological Society of Australasia Newsletter, 152: 1-4. LIRS catalog number 1818.
  • Dougherty, L. (2016). Flashing in the 'Disco' Clam Ctenoides ales (Finlay, 1927): Mechanisms and Behavioral Function, PhD thesis, University of California Berkeley. LIRS catalog number 2046.
  • Dougherty, L. F., S. Johnsen, R.L. Caldwell and N.J. Marshall (2014). A dynamic broadband reflector built from microscopic silica spheres in the 'disco' clam Ctenoides ales, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 11: 20140407. LIRS catalog number 1803.