How to Keep Freshwater Mussels

Updated April 17, 2017

Mussels are hard-shell bivalve mollusks that live in ponds, lakes and freshwater rivers. While some species of mussels are endangered, there are many edible varieties. In fact, they are considered one of France's national dishes.

Mussels live near rocks and on the floors of bodies of water and eat plankton, algae and other microscopic marine dwellers with their valves acting as filters. This makes them an excellent addition to an aquarium; when cared for properly, they help keep the aquarium clean.

Place the substrate of sand or gravel 3 to 5 inches deep on the bottom of the aquarium.

Test the temperature of the water. To keep healthy mussels, the water should be between 22.7 and 24.4 degrees C.

Place the mussels into the substrate face down. If you are uncertain which side is up, lay the mussel on its side and it will position itself correctly.

Watch the mussel's position. A contented mussel will not move around much. If your mussel moves back and forth, it indicates something is amiss. Check and adjust the water's pH, nitrate and ammonia levels.

Keep powdered fish food for the mussels to give them an occasional treat. As long as there are other fish in the tank, mussels will have nourishment.


Use a lighted thermometer or one with big numbers in the aquarium. Optimal temperatures are a must for healthy aquariums.


Do not overfeed mussels or any other aquarium life. Placing mussels face up in the aquarium could cause them to smother.

Things You'll Need

  • Gravel or sand
  • Aquarium thermometer
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About the Author

Based in New York, Tim Burgone has been writing technology-related content since 1991. His work has appeared in “Wired” magazine and “Mac Addict” magazine. Burgone received the Frank L. Kern Literary Award in 2002. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. John’s University in New York.