Freshwater Mussel (Unio pictorum)

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Freshwater Mussel

Unio pictorum

38 Litres (10 US G.)

5.1-10.2cm (2-4 ")




6.5 - 8.0

22.2-27.8°C (72 -82 °F)

8-10 °d

1:1 M:F

Other (See article)

1-3 years

Alternative names[edit]

Freshwater Mussel, River Mussel, Painter's Mussel


Not possible

Tank compatibility[edit]

Obviously will not bother other tank inhabitants. Larger fish may attempt to nibble at any protruding siphons. Care should be taken with invertebrate eating fish, such as freshwater Puffers and Clown Loachs.


Omnivorous Filter feeder. Feeds on suspended particles in the water.

Feeding regime[edit]

Feeds on suspended particles in the water. If there are no suspended particles in the water, addition of supplemental food is necessary. It has been suggested that aquarists make their own "green water" by leaving a jar of aquarium water in sunlight for 1 week and adding it to the aquarium; the mussels will filter the algae from the water.

Environment Specifics[edit]

Mussels are sensitive to water quality and should only be added to a well established tank. They need at least an inch (preferably 2-4") of sand or small gravel substrate in which to burrow.
When placing new mussels in the aquarium, place them on their side an allow them to burrow on their own. Otherwise, they may be placed upside down and be unable to feed.


Will burrow in substrate and extend siphon for feeding. They do not necessarily bury themselves entirely, but need enough substrate to hold them upright. Their burrowing behaviour may uproot plants.


Most freshwater mussels breed sexually though a few species are hermaphroditic. Larvae will attach to fish, and a cyst will form while the larvae matures. This is harmless to the fish however, and attempts to remove the cysts have resulted in the death of the fish.


Freshwater mussels have an oblong shell of 1-3", with colouration ranging from light to dark brown.


External links[edit]