Aquaponic Gardening

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One of our customers ask if we had heard of growing fresh water mussels in the aquaponic systems.  Said the mussels eat the algae and do well in the system?  Anyone heard of using "fresh water mussels" and comments good and/or bad in using them. 

Our Grand Opening went very well!   almost everyone said they are trying to be ready for whats coming down heavy in the USA this year.  They all want to be as self sufficient by this summer.   Was very interesting in talking with different walks of life in regard to our current state of affairs in our grand country.  Thanks for your input.....Mary

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Hi Mary,

     Mussels and clams are filter feeders so they tend to eat what floats around in the water and I've heard many people talk about how they are good filtration to add to systems.  However, I've never found a good source for ones that would be appropriate to grow say in the sump tank in a system in my climate.  Also, many have a complex life cycle that might not be easy to keep going in an aquaponics system (some even require a specific species of fish for part of their life cycles.)  I know of people in Australia that have kept mussels in their systems and people who have had clams living in aquariums but that is about what I know on the subject.

Now if anyone does have info on such things please share.  We did once try getting a bag of live mussels (you are not supposed to eat the ones that are dead before you get them) to see if we could keep them in our system but they all died pretty much right away, probably because they were from a cold water place and FL isn't.

i get fresh water mussels from a pond supply place near my office.. they do ship, mine have been doing ok (i think i forgot to mention that i have mussels in my intro)

Keith what is the name of the pond supply place.   Do they have an email address that my customer can contact?  TC said something about they like cold water?  We raise Tilapia in our tanks and wonder if.....they would live in 78 degree water.  Also the customer said something about he would like to raise catfish or something that does not require alot of heat to the water.   We know nothing about fresh water mussels.   So....any ideas out there fellow aquaponics.  Good, bad or ????  I like the idea of the filtering of the water.  Our tanks are pretty clear but always room for improvement from ideas etc.  Thank you Keith for responding about your mussels.  What do you have in the tank with them and at what temperature?  What do you feed them?  Any information would be great.  By the way...for all our Aquaponic partners in and around the Dallas Tx area and up into Oklahoma, our prayers are with you.   Lots of bad weather going on today.  Stay safe!  Mary

Keith Rowan said:

i get fresh water mussels from a pond supply place near my office.. they do ship, mine have been doing ok (i think i forgot to mention that i have mussels in my intro)

Mary, I can highly recommend channel catfish and bluegill for aquaponics.  Now I do recommend a fairly big tank to grow out channel catfish because I'm used to growing them big.  And an outdoor system at least in my climate (inland central Florida) needs about 300 gallons of fish tank or bigger to keep the temperature stable though some of our extreme temperature swings (going from a warm tee shirt weather day to hard freeze overnight.)  But aside from that tank size recommendation, the bluegill and channel catfish have been very good fish for my systems and I don't heat the water in winter and they have done well in summer as long as I provide a bit of supplemental aeration when the water is staying over 80 F day and night.

I just don't know where to get or what kind to get for freshwater clams or mussels for hot climates.

William Trickers is where i got my freshwater mussels;  - they're a "water garden" store..i just got another daphnia starter culture from them


mine have been in my glass tanks with no substrate, and in glass tanks with gravel.. they dig into the gravel a bit and are filter feeders.. i'm feeding a couple of the tanks greenwater for (hopefully) breeding glass shrimp, but i don't really "feed" the mussels anything, out of 18 or so i've added, there are still probably 8 to 10 alive after several months

the water is normally at about 68 degrees in my basement, gets a bit warmer in summer, and a bit cooler in winter, but that's about average, they do ok in warm water (up to mid to high 80's), and as TC said, different species of mussels require specific fish for one stage of their lifecycle, so breeding would be difficult if not impossible.. i've heard they can be eaten, and will probalby try one at some point, but they are more for filtering than anything - and if they die, their shells stay in the water to do a little ph buffering

  wow!  This fresh water mussel -thing is news to me....maybe  because I am in the PNW?  I have heard of Zebra Mussles, which are an invasive species and illegal to transport here (not sure if it is that where everywhere in the USA)...So when this discussion started and I saw the title, I had mental images of people going down to the local lake marina with a flashlight at night, scraping muscles off the hulls of boats into a bag, and skulking away to slip them into their AP systems... 

  Now I gather there are several types of Fresh Water mussels (learned something new today!)...I'll be interested to find if any (of the legal ones) would live in the PNW climate?

I would caution that leaving dead mussels in the system may cause ammonia-nitrite spikes if you are talking about a really small system so checking to remove dead ones if water quality spikes start happening.  The shells are fine to remain in the system but I would remove the dead flesh parts if you notice any issues.

absolutely tc.. the one that i noticed that died, my marmokreb was eating.. went back a little later and the snails were finishing it off..


there ya go, circle of life.

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