Painted topshell

Painted topshell

Painted topshell ©P. Lightfoot

Painted topshell

Scientific name: Calliostoma zizyphinum
The beautiful pink and white bands of a Painted topshell make it easy to see where this little sea snail got its name!

Species information


Height: Up to 3cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Painted topshell is a kind of sea snail that lives at the very bottom of rocky shores all around the UK. They are grazers, feasting on algae on rocks. They have a very beautiful tall, conical shell which can be yellowish, pink or purple. The snail itself is also colourful beneath the shell and can be flecked with red, purple or yellow.

How to identify

A conical straight sided shell, up to 3cm high. The shell is very beautiful and can be yellow, pink or purple with bands of pink or purple. The shell is very clean - it is thought that the snail cleans its shell with its extendable foot.


Found on low tides on rocky shores around the UK and out to 300m deep.

Did you know?

Topshells get their name because the shell is shaped like an old-fashioned spinning top.

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.