Help needed with a Freshwater Mussel


First off, a quick hello to everyone - I've been off for like, 3 months while I've had exams and whatnot....

Anyway, onto this mussel -
Okay, I found this little critter while I was dunking my hand in the river pulling out shells to draw for my new art project, and pulled him out while I was digging around under the dirt. I've kept him in a well-oxygenated coldwater tank for the last 2 days, and he'll probably end up back in the river once I'm bored of drawing him.

As far as I know, they're filter feeders, but I'd like to know a bit more -
Do I need to feed him anything else?
Would it be best to add 1-2 other small fish?
How long could they survive in a tank? (About 2 gallons of river water + .5 gallon of treated tap water)
And, would it be possible to keep him in a pond afterwards?

He seems happy enough at the moment; he's moving around, burying, emerging from his shell every now and then, etc.

I'd just like a bit more info. It's a bit of an unusual topic, and I could find any info on Google... Thanks guys!


First thing, depending on what state you’re in, taking a mussel without a permit can be very illegal, and depending on the type you have, it could be a federal offence.

Second, as you know mussels are filter feeders. Without the river current delivering nutrients, the :mussel will die. Mussels are extremely sensitive the environmental change. The tap water is useless to him. If you insist on keeping him longer, I would frequently change the water; use only river water it was removed from. Add a pump just to keep the water moving. Most of the vital nutrients will settle to the bottom. Remove any filters from the pump. You want to move the water, not clean it.

Hope this helps.
  • Thread Starter


Thanks for the help
There is a lot of water movement in the tank, as well as an airstone. Since I go away on Thursday, I can't keep him any longer than today and tomorrow anyway, and I'll drop him off at the river again sometime before I go. Considering how much junk gets tipped into the river, I doubt a bit of clean water mixed in will do too much harm until then...

Thanks again!


Mussels need a well established tank to survive long-term. They starve otherwise.

Find out what kind of mussel it is before returning it to the river. If it's something considered invasive in your country, you could get hit with a huge fine, even though you really aren't causing any harm. For example, if I pulled a zebra mussel (native to your side of the pond, invasive over here) from the river, kept it for a few days, and then got caught putting it back in the river, I would get hit with a multiple-thousand dollar fine and potentially jail time.

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