Tropical fish owners are always looking for ways to keep the environment within their fish tanks clean and healthy. One way to promote a naturally clean environment apart from the work done by aquarium filters and other aquarium supplies is to add a freshwater clam to your tank. These invertebrates do an excellent job of eating waste, including uneaten fish food and other waste that travels to the bottom of the tank.
Aquarium Needs for Freshwater Clams
A freshwater clam needs the right environment to thrive. They are small, typically growing no larger than two inches, but they need plenty of substrate at the bottom of the tank. This is where they will live. You will rarely see your clam, because it will bury itself deep within the substrate, sending out its foot to eat when needed. The substrate cannot be too large, either. Choose medium or fine substrate, such as sand or small gravel.
The freshwater clam also needs the right sized aquarium. In order to make sure that the clam has enough food and room, put it in at least 10 gallons of water. Anything smaller could be detrimental to the invertebrate. If you have the right environment, adding the clam is no different than adding a new fish. Let the water temperature acclimate by floating the bag in the water for a while, and then gently lower the clam to the floor of the tank. If you think a clam is not getting enough to eat, you can supplement the diet with invertebrate food.
Warnings About Freshwater Clams
Large fish will eat freshwater clams, so do not put them in a tank with large species. Be especially cautious of species that are known to eat invertebrates, such as freshwater puffer fish.
Remember, clams do not move around much. You may think the clam is dead because it sits so still, with its shell tightly closed. Most likely it is not dead unless the shell is open, the fish are nibbling at it, or it floats to the top of the tank.
Your clams will not tolerate any copper-based fish medication. When shopping for aquarium supplies, read all ingredients carefully. If you must treat your fish tank with copper-based medications, remove the clam first, and do not put it back in until the medication is removed with chemical aquarium filters.