The river mussel occurs throughout Europe from the most northern part of the Alps to the South of Sweden, the South of Finland and east up to the Ural.
It is absent from Italy,Norway and theBritish Islands. Its status and occurrence on the Iberian half-island is not clear.
Up to the Mid-twentieth century the river mussel was a common species that occurred in source streams, ditches and in larger rivers leading to the German name “common river mussel”. However, all over Europe, populations are now in steep decline or extinct. The decline is caused by human actions including intensification of land use in the river catchments. In Germany it is estimated to be 90%.
In Luxembourg, the distribution is now limited to the upper reaches of the Our and Sauer; it used to spread out over the whole country.