This is in response to the idea of using freshwater mussels to filter algae
in aquaria. It's not a good idea because:
1. Unless you have a small mussel (e.g. zebra mussel) or a consistent algal
bloom, you probably won't have enough algae to sustain the mussel for long
periods. If you do have green or cloudy water, it's better to solve the
problem than to use a mussel.
2. Algae species vary in nutritional quality. Those that tend to bloom (e.g.
Chlorella) are usually of poor nutritional quality.
3. Mussels can be selective in feeding and not all algal species are eaten
4. Mussels differ in their ability to survive in the aquaria. Don't know
why. I've tested at least 8 species, some died within days.
I'm sure there are those who have kept mussels for long periods in the
aquaria but remember that starving mussels can "live" for extended periods
To clearify some things I have have read on this thread:
1. Larvae are fish parasites. True (for mussels in one family of molluscs
only), but this is often host specific. This shouldn't be much of a concern
because the mussel is unlikely to reproduce in the aquaria. Additionally,
the parasitism is external and for a finite period of time only. (The
larvae, called glochidia, latches onto the gills of the fish for dispersal).
2. The mussel will bury itself. This is true but the posterior portion and
the siphons are always exposed so you can see where the mussel is.
3. The mussels will disrupt a planted tank. This is not true. They will
crawl but slowly and none has ever uproot my plants.
I use mussels in my reseach (both freshwater and marine) and am always
looking for a good graduate student interested in mussel biology.
Shiao Y. Wang
Univ. of Southern Mississippi
sywang at whale_st.usm.edu