Freshwater mussels, the vacuum cleaners of the aquatic ecosystem, feed by filtering algae and small particles from the water. Larvae are released by the female mussel and must locate a certain fish species or die. They usually attach to the host fish’s gills or fins where they remain for a few weeks or months. Larval mussels rarely harm infected fish under natural conditions. When they become juveniles, they drop back to the substrate for the cycle to begin again. If essential fish species are removed from the habitat, mussels will not be able to reproduce.
Adult mussels can range from less than one inch in length to nearly 12 inches long. Some species have thin shells and a life-span of only 5 or 6 years, while others have thick shells and can live well over 50 years. Shells vary both on the inside and outside of mussels, depending upon the mussel species. Color, texture, and shape variations in shells are used to help identify different types of mussels.
Freshwater mussels have been collected by commercial musselers for the cultured pearl industry. A cultured pearl is formed by taking a round core from the shell of some of our larger […]