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I often see freshwater clams and mussels for sale on popular auction websites. They claim they are good filters for aquariums and ponds, however many keepers have these clams/mussels die in the aquarium. So I was wondering . . .

Where do these clams/mussels come from?

Do they actually come from freshwater ponds, as the sellers often state?

Do they do better in a pond environment, rather than an aquarium, if so . . . why?

In a proper setup, how do these clams and mussels breed?

Here is a photo of what I'm talking about, I found it from a seller:
 

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Top ones look like eastern elliptio mussels, bottom look kind of like asian clams. Top one is native, bottom one very invasive (at least in the northern eastern us). I tried keeping the mussels which I collected locally for about 6-8 months before they died out. Did they filter the water, probably, was it any cleaner with them than without, not noticeably to the eye. They would move themselves around the aquarium from time to time, but generally they would just sit in one place feeding away. I did not supplement what they were filtering out of the aquarium and I suspect that there just wasn't enough food in the water column barely in my 25g to support 1 (i base this on having started with 4, and the first 3 having died offearly on with the last one hanging out solo for a couple more months). I did choose small ones (about the size you have in your picture 1.5" or so) to try and give them the best chance of survival, though in the wild they are much more commonly 3-4 inches sometimes 5 and likely need much more food to maintain that size.

As to them dying off, many times you see people complaining that they get an ammonia spike after they die. While i don't test regularly anymore, after i noticed one had died i did test and didn't notice any elevated levels of anything (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) and my fish and plants all seemed completely unphased by that. This is very likely due to my having a heavily planted tank and a large filter capacity. since they like to burrow into the substrate it can also be hard to tell if they have died, though for me this wasn't really a problem since i know what to look for (lack of feeders, shell split slightly further apart, doesn't clamp closed if bumped etc)

In general, if I could keep them again I would (and am likely going to collect another 2-3 this summer) though for me it is more so that I am attached to them since you see them all over the swimming hole than anything else. As far as observing them in the aquarium, I spent more time and had more fun playing find the mussel, than i did watching them actually doing anything (though it is kind of neat the first time you watch them burrow into the sand)

this link is taken from the tank in my signature And while I don't dwell on them extensively, I do make mention of them from time to time over the next several months. The link points to the first post about them
 

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They are true freshwater clams. They are originally from Asia, but are now an invasive species all over the world, including in the U.S. (Likely originally brought over as a food source.)

I often see them for sale at big box stores like PetCo.

They are filter feeders, so do better in established tanks or ponds, where there's stuff in the water for them to eat. In the wild, they are very adaptable, living in rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, etc.

I have kept many over the years, but I have to say, they aren't particularly interesting or exciting. (Except that they're clams! In your fishtank!)

Some people complain that they have a high death rate when you first introduce them to your tank. I have not found that to be true. They've always been quite hardy for me.

However, you don't see them much. Typically, they bury themselves in the substrate. You might see their siphons sticking out once in awhile. I would often forget they were in the tank until years later, when one died and its shell rose to the top of the gravel.

Many people worry that the clam will die in the gravel, fouling the water, but I haven't found that to be a problem. In an established tank, the biofilter can handle it. Also, MTS will make short work of the remains.

Some people say you should keep them in silt or soft sand, but I kept mine in Flourite and other gravel, and it didn't seem to bother them at all.

Edit: Forgot to add...it's not likely they'll breed successfully in your tank. It only takes one, but they start out really tiny and go through larval forms before they look like clams. I have never heard of anyone successfully raising them in a fishtank. Though I have heard complaints that the larvae, which can attach to fish, can cause irritation to gills if there are a lot of them.
 

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I was considering adding many with this new tank. My only concern is that with them loving to bury in the substrate, they can die and decay without you really knowing. Not that they do at any faster rate than anything else... but at least with fish, or anything else, you know and can remove.

I'm still torn on whether to add any. Definitely will pay attention to this thread.
 

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As mentioned,they are filter feeder's that would do well in pea green soupy water,and or substrate's covered with mulm/algae that most people want to avoid.
Is why they starve in newly established tank's but might do well in outdoor pond's.
Sensitive to most med's and or chemical algae treatment's.
 

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That article looks pretty accurate to me.

I have heard people claim that these clams can clear a tank of green water is no time. Haven't tried it myself, though. Been a long time since I've had any green water.
 
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