Feeding freshwater clams

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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I was thinking of getting a 15 gallon freshwater tank with one fish (Pao suvattii or Monotrete baileyi) and a golden mussel (Pilsbryoconcha exilis). The care for the former is fairly straightforward; however, there's not a chance that the tank will produce enough food for the latter by itself. This being said, what could I use as food for a freshwater mussel? I was thinking plants like spinach and lettuce could be good, because they eat diatoms (though diatoms have a silicate cell wall where as plants have a lignin and cellulose cell wall), and I was also going to try fish food (those pufferfish will certainly not eat finely ground fish food). Additionally, I need a biological filter no matter what--is there any way to get a biological filter that doesn't filter particulates? A mussel should accomplish any kind of particulate filtering I would need, and a particulate filter would be counterproductive. Also, if all biological filters also filter particulates, how exactly would I hand feed the mussel? I've read you can use a pipette with a kind of mussel-feeding slurry, but I worry that the mussel would decide to clam up :)D), which would cause the food to be lost in the filter. Should I just pipette very, very gently?

I've read that freshwater mussels can be challenging, but it also seems to me that most of the issues come from misunderstanding (people use a mussel to chemically filter an aquarium, mussel starves from nothing to eat, dead mussel causes ammonium spike). If this is not the case and they really are as impossible as is often claimed, I will avoid keeping one.
 

Tenodera

Arachnobaron
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Apparently you can feed them with green water http://www.w9xt.com/page_live_foods_green_water.html. Pipetting the food gently and from enough of a distance might work. When I was younger I had freshwater mussels in a community tank which did well with heavy algae growth for a while, but I certainly didn't do everything right and they eventually died.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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I actually was thinking about using green water, but I have limited space and will probably just go with marine algae food. I was thinking of adding food without a pipette, turning off the filter for four hours (at a rate of 15 liters an hour, that's how long it should take one clam to get all the algae), and then turning the filter back on. I'd make sure not to feed the puffer at the same time as the clam, of course, because not filtering with a puffer could be a problem (although then again, the clam might eat the leftover particulates...). How long did it take your clams to die? I wonder if they were actually eating the algal growth. Also what kind did you have?

I wish there was more information about these, but most people are like "if you stick them in your tank they will starve to death." It seems to me that with a bit of care, they could live happily for many years. A lot of the time would actually be spent in making sure they could be seen.
 

REEFSPIDER

Arachnobaron
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I haven't kept fish in years but from what i understand you will have better results with something larger than a 10gal. It has to do with gallonage and the amount of detritus/dissolved food necessary for the mussel to remain healthy while also maintaining proper water perameters. In a ten you have a lot more chances of an amonia spike.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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I definitely won't be just hoping it will eat detritus that's sitting in the tank--for that I think I would have to encourage algae and bacteria, but still somehow have a biological filter. That's why I was going to feed it, and I think not feeding is the reason most peoples' mussels starve. I am aware that it's more difficult to keep fish in a smaller tank, but I'm very space limited, because I'm trying to keep fish in a dorm (which won't allow anything other than fish--sigh...) I'm definitely going to over-filter, and I figure that anything the mechanical filter would need to deal with would at least be tried by the mussel (but who knows if it would accept any :/)
 

REEFSPIDER

Arachnobaron
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And you expect it to just vacuum up all organic matter you place into your tank_ ? When feeding it?
It is going to foul your water quickly regarldless of method.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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And you expect it to just vacuum up all organic matter you place into your tank_ ? When feeding it?
It is going to foul your water quickly regarldless of method.
The former had been my thought...if it filters 15L an hour, it should be able to get through all the water in the tank in a few hours. I have read that clams will eat anything less than 20 micrometers regardless of taste (including plastic beads :p), and I think algae are nutritious enough to serve as the main food source. I could also use the method that's sometimes suggested where you put a container with small holes over the clam and spray algae into that, which avoids filtering out most of the algae. Am I misunderstanding how that works? I could definitely imagine a situation where the clam re-filters the same litre of water that happens to be near it, which wouldn't actually affect the turnover rate. I just assumed that it would eventually get through all the water in the tank rather than filtering the same water.

I'm definitely not going to try to feed the clam anything other than algae--even if the small particles were eaten, there's a could chance that they'd be rejected, which would be detrimental quickly (a starving clam and toxic spikes...)

As for fouling the water: do you mean the clam or the food? Either way, I think over-filtering the tank, along with being careful about not adding too much food, should mitigate the issue. I guess using that method of covering the clam would help. On the other hand, at that point it would probably be too much work. If that's what I need to do, I'll probably just skip the clam altogether.
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
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I tried a few decades ago, couldn't figure out how to feed them enough I'm still interested to try it again some day. btw I have a 10 gallon with nothing in it but some small snails, one plant sps and sand, it's been that way for 4 or 5 years. I have the pump going and the filter housing but no filter, it still looks nice and clear all the time with no filter until I add water, then I clears up in about 30 minutes.
 

Ranitomeya

Arachnoknight
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Clams and mussels don't survive too well in small aquariums or in aquaria with filtration that removes particulates. I recommend removing the parts of the filtration meant to entrap small particles. Biological filtration does not require all that fine mesh or cotton--it just does better if there is a significant amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Try replacing the media with bio balls.

Using marine algal food or any dead algae, for that matter, will foul your water if it isn't eaten. Turning off the filter will be ineffective since dead algae cannot regulate their buoyancy or move on their own and will simply settle to the bottom where it will end up decomposing. Green water will always be the best choice, but if you have to feed particulates, make sure not to remove water flow or else all of that will just settle to the bottom and mess up your water chemistry.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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Clams and mussels don't survive too well in small aquariums or in aquaria with filtration that removes particulates. I recommend removing the parts of the filtration meant to entrap small particles. Biological filtration does not require all that fine mesh or cotton--it just does better if there is a significant amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Try replacing the media with bio balls.

Using marine algal food or any dead algae, for that matter, will foul your water if it isn't eaten. Turning off the filter will be ineffective since dead algae cannot regulate their buoyancy or move on their own and will simply settle to the bottom where it will end up decomposing. Green water will always be the best choice, but if you have to feed particulates, make sure not to remove water flow or else all of that will just settle to the bottom and mess up your water chemistry.
Bioballs! Should have thought of that. And I hadn't thought of the buoyancy--that makes a lot of sense. I didn't even know diatoms control their own buoyancy.
 

Jacob Ma

Arachnoknight
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Bioballs! Should have thought of that. And I hadn't thought of the buoyancy--that makes a lot of sense. I didn't even know diatoms control their own buoyancy.
They do so they can preform photosynthesis more easily, which is why algal blooms are a real big problem in lakes and oceans polluted by excess nutrients (eutrophication).
 

Jshriver

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I didn’t see it in the previous replies, but feeding the clam won’t be a problem. The problem is you are feeding your clam to your puffer. Any puffer will tear any clam apart.
 

Ajohnson5263

Arachnosquire
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I didn’t see it in the previous replies, but feeding the clam won’t be a problem. The problem is you are feeding your clam to your puffer. Any puffer will tear any clam apart.
I agree, the puffers you're looking at feed primarily on shelled invertetbrates.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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First off, I decided against getting a puffer for the moment. However, I would like to clear up some confusion.

Most puffers feed on shelled invertebrates. They cruise around near the bottom looking for molluscs and, to a lesser extent, crustaceans to eat, and they mash them up with their continuously growing beak-teeth. However, the two species I named here are ambush predators that feed on fish. I was thinking about them for two primary reasons: they need less space compared to their size than other puffers (being ambush predators), and their teeth don't grow nearly as fast and aren't equipped to handle shellfish. So in fact a mussel should be fine sharing a tank with them.

Most puffers would, I agree, be a problem, but these guys are basically piscivorous. They go for food primarily based on movement anyway.
 

Godzillaalienfan1979

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I'd try feeding 'em exactly how I fed my filter-feeder shrimp back when I had them. Being careful, siphon out some microorganisms near the clam(s) with a dropper. It took some getting used to, but I mastered it and the shrimp came to become less afraid. I know clams are a lot more nervous and quick than shrimp (both are TBH), so it will take a little more time to get used to.

Enjoy! Keeping mussels, clams and the like is surprisingly fun

And yeah, like everyone else said. I'd either get a different fish or house your clams separately, a pufferfish will macerate any clam if it gets the chance.

EDIT: I just saw the thing you posted about the ambush puffers. My bad lmao. They sound cool, where do you get them from?
 

Myrmeleon

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A 15 gallon is too small for any one of those puffers. They require a ton of filtration because they produce a copious amount of waste and it would be harder to achieve the right flow rate in a smaller tank without increasing turbulence.
 

Godzillaalienfan1979

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A 15 gallon is too small for any one of those puffers. They require a ton of filtration because they produce a copious amount of waste and it would be harder to achieve the right flow rate in a smaller tank without increasing turbulence.
yeah, he makes a good point, Pufferfish are poopers to the max, as my dude Snark would say. Kinda like catfish.
 
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