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FAQs about Bivalve Mollusk Selection

Related Articles: Tridacnids, Bivalves, Mollusks,

Related FAQs:  Bivalves 1, Bivalves 2, Bivalve Identification, Bivalve Behavior, Bivalve Compatibility, Bivalve Systems, Bivalve Feeding, Bivalve Disease, Bivalve Reproduction, Tridacnids, Tridacnid Clam BusinessTridacnid Identification, Tridacnid Selection, Tridacnid Compatibility, Tridacnid Systems, Tridacnid Lighting, Tridacnid Placement, Tridacnid Feeding, Tridacnid Disease, Tridacnid Reproduction, Flame Scallops,


Anadara spp in the refugium?    6/21/13
I am in the process of studying and planning a marine reef system relying on various, linked refugium strategies. I have kept planted, freshwater tanks for thirty years. While reading about the culture of Mysid shrimp, I came across a little side note in an article that stated that mollusk larvae were just as nutritious, if not more so, than Mysid larvae.
<Some are>
 In a previous article I had read regarding seagrass biology, I noticed that Anadara spp play a critical role in the health of the seagrass biotope and that various species of seagrass (Thalassia spp) do much better in areas they share with Anadara spp. And yet, nowhere in the refugium literature can I find an example of any hobbyist attempting to include Anadara spp in either their mangrove refugium mud, or their seagrass/macroalgae refugium DSB. 
<I too have never come across such>
Would their presence disturb the nitrate/nitrite cycle in a DSB?.
<Would likely help keep all in balance... including in terms of nitrification, denitrification>
I also cannot find a source for tropical Anadara spp (other than a fresh fish store ).  I searched WWM for the term “Anadara” and found one instance where it was used in a fish food recipe. It seems to me that raising Anadara species (say, A. granosa, for example, which are aquacultured all over the tropics) in a mangrove or seagrass refugium, would not only add a considerable benefit to natural filtration (as clams filter enormous amounts of water), but also as a food source when they spawn in the system. Since we can raise Tridacnid spp in our tanks, why not Anadara spp?
 I really doubt that I am the first person to think of this and can only assume that there are some kind of biological (or other) barriers to such an approach?
<None that I'm aware of... just the usual discovery of food items of use, their provision w/o removal by filtration, other organisms... habitat preferences...>
 Love your site. Best on the web. Look forward to your thoughts. Thank you.
<I look forward to reading of your further experiences here. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

Spiny Oysters    4/28/14
Good Afternoon Crew,
<And you Shawn, good morrow>
I would like to get your opinion on Spiny Oysters in a Reef Aquarium. I have researched them and opinions seem to vary depending on the site, both easy and difficult. They are quite unusual looking and would make an interesting addition, but not at the risk of it dying from my lack of knowledge.
Thanks for your help,
<Most all species, specimens perish (historically) under captive conditions due to poor initial health (from collection, transport...) and lack of food/nutrition. Like azooxanthellate Cnidarians, these bivalves can be kept, but need especial care. Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bivsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Flame Scallop Closing in a Disjointed Manner, sel., fdg. 12/19/08 Greetings, Wet Web Media Crew! <<Howdy Justin!>> Thank you for a site that is wonderfully packed with delicious information. <<Am in agreement'¦ A superb collaborative effort'¦>> After finding the site, I must say that I have been aptly humbled with the knowledge that you all have. Thank you! <<Ahhh, thank *you* for the kind words'¦>> My wife and I started a saltwater aquarium nearly a year ago, and have had a relatively successful husbandry story (with the exception of falling into the pitfall of trusting our local fish store(s)). <<Mmm'¦ Many do provide valuable advice and service, but sadly there are those few'¦>> Sadly, I did not find this site until after we had chosen to purchase a pair of large flame scallops. <<Ahh yes'¦ Certainly one of those organisms best left in the ocean. Exquisite animals with a huge appeal for sure. But unfortunately they also have a very, very, very (have I expressed *very?*�) dismal survival rate in captive settings>> Despite the LFS' repeated assertions that the scallops are easy to care for in a tank as established as mine, <<Pure bunk>> I would have not purchased them based on everything I have read here. <<Ah, I see>> We purchased them a couple of months ago. My tank is a 29 long, with a 5 gallon 'fuge. <<Aw mate and the LFS was/is aware of the size of this system? Were this tank three times the size, and the refugium six times the size, I still wouldn't give the scallops much of a chance of surviving more than a few months. It is indeed sad and disturbing that your LFS would promote such and animal as this for a system of this size>> Protein skimmer (of which the brand is escaping me at the moment, but it was one of the few that were listed as good in one of the articles at this site). 3" deep sand bed, 15-20 pounds of live rock in the main tank, and a 4" deep sand bed in the 'fuge. <<Very good>> Various power heads with foam inserts <<Unless you are cleaning these a couple times a week, I would remove the foam inserts. Aside from accumulating detritus, they may well be trapping food organisms the scallops would welcome>> on the intakes causing a chaotic water pattern in the tank. Various types of Caulerpa are growing happily in the 'fuge and some in the display tank. <<Mmmm'¦ Do consider these alga will *compete* just as any other reef organism. Best to stick to a single species'¦ Or better yet, switch to a more *user-friendly* macro-algae like Chaetomorpha>> The tank's levels are reporting normal. Ammonia, NO2, NO3 all trace. <<Trace? Ammonia and NO2 should be zero, zip, nada'¦>> pH 8.3, Specific gravity is 1.026, Temperature is 78F with a variance of 1-2 degrees. I buffer the KH, which reads at 10. Both of the bivalves have found a nice hiding spot and have attached themselves right next to each other, on a sizable piece of live rock. This is particularly good, because the water flow is mild there, and the various foods I feed them tend to stay there for a good half an hour before diluting in the tank. <<'¦? This seems too stagnant to me, better to increase flow a bit. Keep in mind that good water flow is the only means these organisms have of shedding wastes/metabolites and of acquiring oxygen and dissolved nutrients>> One of the scallops is open fairly constantly and responding to movement, light and other animals that may come near it. It *appears* to be eating and producing waste, though I cannot confirm if it is actual waste, or just the pseudo-waste, rejected food and mucus combination. <<Most often with these animals it is the latter. Providing *suitable* foods is very difficult>> I feed them a concoction of Cyclop-Eeze, zooplankton and phytoplankton...blended. <<And all too large and likely rejected. No doubt these organisms are starving'¦ Your system and refugium are much too small to offer any chance for the scallops>> And now, the problem. The second bivalve has stopped closing its shell properly; it appears to close slightly askew. <<The end is near>> The offset is roughly a millimeter in size. <<I think it likely this animal is already dead and the joint muscle is deteriorating rapidly>> We've seen evidence of what appeared to be a bristleworm (we ID' it from the various pictures here) crawling out of the back of the clam, <<Then it is dying for sure'¦ The worm is just *cleaning up*>> though it dug its way between a rock and the sand before we could get a good look at it. We have not seen it since. <<The worm is not the issue here>> This bivalve still presses its mantle out, but it does not seem able to open its shell well any longer. <<A simple matter of time now>> I take opportunities when I see its mantle out, to carefully and slowly suspend the food around them. <<A waste of time/foodstuffs my friend>> Having read what is available on this site regarding flame scallops, I am certain the most likely cause is starving to death, <<Yes>> which makes me very sad. <<But hopefully a learning experience too>> I am guessing that the one that is not doing well was at the LFS longer and had starved longer. <<Maybe'¦ But either way, the other won't be far behind>> However, I was given pause after reading that they tend to live 2 to 3 years naturally, and that a 3" diameter flame scallop is considered to be older (and female). Of course, I would be elated to think that the problems I am seeing are due to it being at the end of its life cycle and that our husbandry has kept them healthy and happy... but I know better, now. <<Ah'¦ Good'¦ We often tend to try to rationalize situations to our advantage. I'm happy to see that you realize the scallop has likely NOT lived a healthy and happy lifetime>> And now, my questions... I apologize for the lengthy read. <<No worries>> Is it possible that the bivalve that is not closing/opening properly is dying of old age? <<Always possible'¦ But what does your heart and mind tell you?>> Do bristle worms (the aggressive types) attack bivalves, and could it have damaged the muscle that allows the bivalve to open and close properly? (I have read the various pages here on worms, and did not feel like I had a good feeling if they do.) <<Again, always possible'¦ But I think this is more likely a case of a beneficial detritivore performing its job>> Thank you very much for your time and patience. <<A pleasure to share>> It is a blessing to have such a wonderful group of people that answer questions like this. <<Bob has indeed compiled a stellar group of volunteers. And thank you again for the kind words>> We are excited to love our animals and give them as long and comfortable a lifetime as is possible. <<Then I am confident from this point on you will research your livestock before purchasing>> Sincerely (from a snow covered Seattle, WA), Justin <<Best regards from sunny and 75F South Carolina (though I did live a few years in Bellevue at what seems a lifetime ago). Eric Russell>>

Re: Flame Scallop Closing in a Disjointed Manner � 12/20/08 Greetings and thank you for the reply, Mr. Russell! <<Quite welcome Justin'¦ And please, call me Eric>> The main lesson learned was to do far more research than trusting the LFS. <<Even with a good LFS/other's advice available, the onus is still on you to do the reading/research and use your own good judgment to make a decision>> Incidentally, they did know about my setup and were the main suppliers of all of my gear. <<I see'¦ Is disappointing'¦>> I chatted with them a bit about flame and electric scallops, and they had no clue that they almost always starve to death in captivity. <<Mmm'¦>> Needless to say, our purchases will be made only after reviewing this and other reputable sites with a lot of input from well learned people such as yourselves. <<Ah yes, your research needs to be among a variety of sources. Very good'¦>> I was a bit unclear on the water flow comment (where you mentioned the stagnation). <<My apologies for the lack of clarity. What I was getting at is that if you are administering foods such as Cyclops-Eeze and these small bit are not being swept away, then there is a lack of necessary water movement around the scallops>> What I meant to express was that I turn off the power heads during feeding to allow the food to have the opportunity to get as close to or inside, the scallop before dispersing it quickly amongst the rest of the tank. <<Ah! Okay'¦ I misunderstood>> I typically give it about 30 minutes, then turn the heads back on and allow current to do its work. <<Okay, excellent'¦ Though as stated in my previous reply the prepared foods are mostly too large for the scallops, though *blending* as you stated you do may help reduce particulate size somewhat. These filter-feeding organisms consume nanoplankton, which is best supplied by a very large and very mature system stocked with a dearth of food-competing organisms and supported by a very large and very mature plankton producing refugium. And even then their survival is iffy>> Foam inserts removed. I should have known that they would trap good things... (sigh!) <<Ah yes'¦ Consider the insets were performing the same function as your filter-feeding organisms. But to the *detriment* of the system'¦>> I will endeavor to find and switch to Chaetomorpha. Thank you ever so much for the suggestion! <<Quite welcome'¦ Some authors may argue that the Caulerpa is more efficient at scavenging. But the Chaetomorpha will do a fine job of this, and is more *user friendly* and, it seems these days, more politically correct>> Are the foods too big even after going through a blender? <<Most likely is, yes'¦ But I don't want to discourage you from trying to feed these animals. Though the best thing here would be to return them to the LFS (with an explanation why) for a store credit, if they would take them>> I thought I had read somewhere on the site that putting them through the blender broke them down to less than 40 nanometers? <<Maybe so'¦ But the dismal survival rate of these organisms, with most all perishing of starvation, would seem to suggest that this process is still less than adequate.. Agreed?>> I could just be dreaming it, though, in my desire to not condemn them to death by starvation. <<You're not dreaming (blending foods has been recommended in at least a few responses re these critters), but your scallops are most assuredly starving>> I now know, and have learned a valuable lesson... research, research, research! <<Yay!>> Regardless, I will fight my hardest to try to help these little ladies! <<I wish you luck'¦ But the reality is that this will be a losing battle>> I'm sad to learn a lesson at the expense of another organism's life. Sorry, thinking "out loud" (so to speak). <<No worries mate. And don't beat yourself up too badly. We've all made such mistakes'¦ What matters now is what we take away from it>> Perhaps I should take them back to the LFS, I feel horrible for killing them. <<Indeed'¦ Perhaps they will learn to not carry what they cannot sell/what people won't buy>> I do appreciate your input and your willingness to share. <<Is my pleasure>> It is very much appreciated and is truly a relief to get to chat with you. <<That's why I am/we are here my friend>> Many, many thanks! <<Always welcome>> Justin - hoping you're enjoying the 75 degrees :) <<Ah yes! Is only expected to reach 73F today, but I guess we'll make do [big grin]. EricR>>

Coquina Clam Query -- 5/5/07 Good Afternoon, <Hello.> I sometimes have very odd ideas, and have been kicking on around for a few weeks. Specifically, I am wondering how the coquina clams (Tropical species of the Donax Genus) often found in large numbers on Florida beaches might fare in a home aquarium, specifically in a Deep Sand Bed. <These would be more temperate than tropical.  I will say I received a few very similar looking clams (genus Tapes) in a clean-up crew package, but they were a more tropical variety, and they were quickly knocked out by my pistol shrimp.> As these creatures are found in the first few inches of sand, one might wonder as to their ability to "clean" the top of a DSB of leftover food and aid in the goal of "Zero" nitrates. (They live deep enough in the sand that I can believe they are at least not primarily photosynthetic, but not deeper then my DSB). <They are not at all photosynthetic.  They are filter feeders.  The bacteria deep in the bed will ultimately be more helpful with nitrates.> In my search for information, I've only found references to aquaculture facilities and to temperate to cold water species collected off of northern states such as New Jersey. Some web site I read mentions once or twice that you might want to research a life form before you place it in your aquarium, but this particular critter doesn't appear to have much information about them.  <Not typically an aquarium species.  Here is one article about their occurrence in the wild: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/Coquinaclam.pdf . Consider what the average temperature is in the collection location. http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/egof.html .  The water temperatures on Florida beaches range from 50-85 through the year, so while these species can probably survive tropical temperatures, they may need the cooler temps to thrive. They also need a finer sand than the typical aragonite for their digging.> If it helps, I run a 150 gallon aquarium with a 15 gallon sump and 30 gallon refugium, as well as a deep sand bed. While this tank is relative new, it may very well be fairly mature before I collect enough research on this topic that I am prepared to risk the lives of a few coquina's in it. <I would stick to making soup with these, and not risk the die off in the aquarium. Or order a truly tropical variety.> (Here's to hoping that I'm not one of the questions referred to existing F.A.Q.'s, I did search on every term I could think of!) <I only find this page with a reference to coquina in a refugium: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefopfaq17.htm  Alex>

Conchs, Scallops and a 20 Gallon Tank...Not Enough Research Beforehand - 08/25/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I'm new to the site and the marine world. <<Ah, welcome....>> I have a 20g that has been running for 2 months now.  In this time I slowly added 2 queen conch snails, <<This tank is woefully too small for even one of these gastropods.  They will grow (if they don't starve first) to more than 6" (12" in the wild) and require a tank with a mature substrate/live rock of some 75+ gallons...each...for their long-term survival>> a coral shrimp, 3 blue hermit crabs, a feather duster, and a flaming scallop. <<The scallop is another poor choice my friend...will starve to death within weeks to months.  Please learn to research your purchases "beforehand"...believe me, you and the hobby will be better off/happier if you learn to pick livestock you have a chance of keeping alive>> All has been going good until today. <<Mmm...>> Well, it is still going good, but I found one of the snails on its back and inside its shell. <<Not a good sign, these snails have the ability to "right themselves" very easily>> I moved it and put it upright.  Now it is acting as if it has seen a ghost.  It'll take a look around and then goes right back in.  It has not moved from the spot I put him. <<likely something environmental is malaffecting the conch...your system is awfully "new"...>> Also, the weird thing is as it did look around it picked up some rocks and built what looks like a sac with rocks covering it.  I was looking around online about the reproduction of these snail and these guys are way too young to even think about that.  That is if those sites are right about the reproduction of a queen conch.  Or, that they are queen conchs to start with. <<Indeed...several species of Strombus available to the hobby...with Strombus alatus (Florida Fighting Conch) and Strombus gigas (Queen Conch) being the most readily available>> No one else in the tank is acting weird.  So, could this be that it is reproducing or dying? <<My guess would be the latter>> Or, is it just sick? <<Will yield the same result>> Thank you for your time, Brian <<A little more reading/researching and a little less buying for now my friend.  Regards, EricR>>

Grocery Store Clams ... as livestock   4/23/06 Dear Wet Web Media Crew, I was just wondering if it is safe to put a grocery store clam in a saltwater marine system?   <Um, no, I wouldn't> It was a large clam, about 3 inches in diameter.  Well, I kind of all ready put him in my tank about two months ago.  He seems to be doing very well.  He can actually watch him move around the tank sifting my substrate.  He has two little port holes where I think that water flows in and out of him.  I am going to eventually want to set up my system into a reef system and just wanted to be sure if it is safe to keep him in there.  Also, would you know if he is a cold water clam or warm water clam.  Does he need a lot of light?  I looked on your site which I absolutely love and could not find anything on grocery store clams.  I apologize if I overlooked it. <I'm not sure there is info on the site about this.  As a general rule, you should never put anything not bought at a LFS in your tank.  Nothing from a grocery store, nothing you caught.  You open up the door to potential disaster here - you have no idea what the requirements are, or what an organism will add that is unwanted to your tank.  Most likely the clam you bought is a coldwater clam, and absolutely not suited for your 'going to be' reef tank.  I would remove him immediately.  Jen S.> Thank you very much. Respectfully, Dustin LeCave

Responsible Anemone/Scallop Keeping 8/12/04 Hi there! It's been awhile since I've had a question come up, so here I am. ;] <we've been waiting with bells on> I recently got a deep blue carpet anemone. I'm in love. ;] <this is an illegal relationship in most civilized countries> It is very sticky, the foot is in perfect condition, and it ate a chunk of food on the first day!  I have it in a tank with lots of light and very good flow. <all good> My main question is how can you tell the difference between S. haddoni and S. gigantea?   <listen for the accent in their speech betraying the locale of their origin/speciation.> Do S. haddoni come in blue as well?   <yep... RIT brand dyed fresh from some charming Indo exporters> I have two rock/flower anemones that are near the carpet (3 inches away) but not touching.  Will this be a problem?   <I expect the carpet will stress or kill these in time> Everybody seems happy at the moment. Do pink skunk clowns take to carpet anemones? <the answer to this question, as with the details of speciation between anemones (like the tentacle-free distinction around the mouth of S. haddoni) and so much more is waiting for you in our archives. We work hard to build this database... please do make the effort to use it and help yourself. There's a clownfish/anemone compatibility chart ta boot: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm be sure to follow the many other links atop these pages> I feed all of my anemones (3 flowers, RBTA, green BTA) a mixture of live plankton and Prime Reef/Frozen Brine shrimp by Formula foods.  They all seem very happy and are growing.   Is this an acceptable diet for the carpet anemone as well? <seem weak to me... the phyto is of dubious value for the carnivorous anemones (they feed on zooplankton principally)... and brine shrimp is a truly hollow food (barely useful even if gut loaded). Please do add better variety here with 4-6 other meats of marine origin. Shredded cocktail shrimp, Mysid shrimp, Pacifica plankton... minced krill... and fish eggs (grouper roe from the LFS or flying fish eggs from an Asian groceria... excellent food for such filter feeders)> Thanks for everything!  Morgan Mok ps: Just as an update for the naysayers and the "blind squirrel people", my red flame scallop is over 1 1/2 years old in my system. ;p <Morgan... you do understand that we are here to serve the greater good in the hobby? I hope you are too. Encouraging the majority of aquarists to keep inappropriate animals like flame scallops just because less than 1% survive over one year is... well... irresponsible. Unless you can clearly explain and document how yours lived to 18 months (still not much of an accomplishment when many simply take longer to slowly starve via a small daily deficit in nutrition as from brine shrimp feedings over time... and all have a natural lifespan on a scale of magnitude much longer!), let me ask... rather, beg (!) that you do not casually promote the keeping of flame scallops or the like as if its a lottery, and telling people the equiv. of "you might win too!". The truth is that most lose... and these are living creatures lives lost... not lottery tickets. Your fave naysayer, perhaps... Anthony :) >

Responsible Anemone/Scallop Keeping II 8/13/04 Hi Anthony, First, I tried to find info about carpet anemone differences in the FAQs/articles and couldn't find anything, therefore I sent a question.   <no worries... but it was all sitting on that first page. The archives are huge though, understood> I asked about the skunk clown cause I saw a couple different compatibility charts and wanted to be sure. <OK> Don't worry, I warn anyone interested in keeping flame scallops, Tubastrea, and tube anemones about the high maintenance quality of these corals.  I don't ever encourage the casual reefer to keep these or other corals.   <Ahhh... very good to hear> I just had to give you a raspberry and let you know how my scallop was doing.  You gave me such a hard time originally and called me a "blind squirrel". ;]   <perhaps still mate ;) Many filter feeders can hang on for over a year or even longer still starving slowly. Without evidence of growth or reproduction... victory on such species living decades is not assured yet <G>> I can't say exactly why I have had success with it.  I know people that grow their own rotifers and can't keep flame scallops.   <indeed... many filter feeders need very specific sized zoo- or phyto plankters> I use the previously mentioned (live phyto (the one I use has 7 diff types, that's what it says) <truly nifty... good to hear> prime reef, frozen brine shrimp by the same people, blood worms, and Spirulina chunk) marine soup to feed my corals, anemones, etc.  My DSB is 5-6 inches and 9+ years old.  Good lighting, flow, and a euro-reef skimmer.  Is this a recipe for success? <don't know... time will tell. But sounds very nice to me> I don't know, but my corals all grow well, my plate coral is huge (7 inches) and eats like a pig (it has turned from green to almost a solid purple), my flower anemone is 6-7inches wide when open, and my flame scallop has survived in my system for over a year and half.   I'll probably switch to Hikari foods and get a much larger tank in time, but everything else will stay the same.  My question is, how many years will I have to have my flame scallop before I am "successful"? hehe I collected it myself btw.   <a subjective valuation... but anything over 3 would be outstanding by hobby standards. Honestly, even over 2 is quite good IMO. Aside from he much longer natural lifespan of these invertebrates. You are on your way> I totally understand your need to chide people for getting corals with a high mortality rate.  So many people kill animals because their LFS says they're easy to keep, etc.  I don't own an elegance, can't keep pink tipped Heliofungia (sniff), no Dendro or chili coral,  etc. <you can keep the latter easily if you'd care to try it. Anyone diligent enough to feed rotifers or baby brine shrimp can. They are quite hardy if fed regularly> However I am glad I tried to keep a flame scallop and I have a patch of bright orange colonial tunicates that are doing great (turtle grass tunicates).  Life is about experimentation and I agree that these corals are lives not just lottery tickets, but reef keeping is a continually developing hobby that requires some careful experimentation to figure out animals' limits and abilities within our systems. <yes... agreed. Careful experimentation> I guess I have a blue haddoni??  The pics aren't the best and the anemone closed some when I moved the rock to take the pics.  It is usually open and rufflly.  Other pic is anemones and orange colonial tunicates (take my word for it). ha! One last question, do you run aquadesignz? Just curious.   <nope... not sure what that is?> Feel free to edit this e-mail if you're going to post it. ;] <we edit nothing my friend beyond personal info and inappropriate language. Free speech!> Very nice talking with you.  Have a nice weekend! Morgan <to you in kind... best regards :) Anthony>

Pet Clam? 1.8.05 <Hello, Ryan with you today> I was at the local grocery store  and  decided to buy a few treats for my choc chip sea star. Namely a live mussel and a live cherrystone clam. <Also called a Quahog, these round clams have extremely hard shells.  They're Atlantic clams.> I put the clam and the mussel in for the star and just waited for him to enjoy his treat.   And very slowly I began to realize how amazing clams are.  So did the sea star, he ate the mussel but after a couple of tastes he decided the clam wasn't worth the trouble.  I now have a pet clam by accident.  what to do? <It will likely starve, as a filter feeder like this requires nutrient rich water.  This type of clam also requires far different water temperature than a tropical starfish.> It has buried itself in the crushed coral and is now happily rearranging my tank.  Do I name it?  I don't know if I have the heart to pull it apart...even for Cookie the sea star. thanks very much <No problem! Ryan> Beth

The Shame of the Flame ( Scallop) and the Almighty Buck Most praiseworthy and omniscient crew,  <No need to go overboard> Having read through a ream of FAQ's this evening, I am prepared to submit myself for a drubbing with a dead mackerel. Today I purchased on impulse [I know, I know...] a flame scallop, approximately 2.5 inches across. He opened nicely after acclimation, and jetted himself around until he found someplace he liked. He currently cohabits my 75G tank with 45 pounds of live rock, a fuzzy dwarf lion, a pincushion urchin, a petite long-tentacle anemone, a chestnut cowry, and a couple of Condoleezza (Rice?) anemones. My water parameters are quite good, with respect to ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, pH, and buffering. I have no apparent copper contamination in my tap water, and no measurable phosphates. I am now, however, painfully aware that the odds of keeping this critter for very long are not very good at all. <Yup> My questions are these: First, now that I feel like the back end of a horse for having bought such a fragile and likely-to-croak creature, I am committed to doing anything within reason to maximize the chance for success. Can you please suggest an appropriate food that will come closest to that which the little guy requires? I am anticipating dropper feeding upstream, two or three times weekly. I've been feeding the anemones a food called Invert Gumbo, to which they have responded well...is such a thing even close to what the "scallop" [nee file clam] really needs? Any other ideas?  <You can try the gumbo. I suggest getting a syringe from the drug store and remove the needle and squirt the stuff in him. They will require daily feedings to survive for any length of time.> Second, in the process of jetting around finding his place, the scallop blundered right into the lap of one of the Condi's. Can the anemones do damage to the exposed tissue of a bivalve under such circumstances?  <Certainly> Third, and possibly rhetorically, why in the #%&* do the people at the LFS sell livestock that is so difficult to maintain and doomed to death by starvation, without communicating an understanding of the low probability of success? <$$$$$$$>  I am rather new to this hobby, but I am committed, sincere, well-intentioned, well-resourced and reasonably intelligent [impulse buying not withstanding]. I genuinely want to do this the right way, and in a conscientious and responsible fashion, and thus need to lean on the supposedly more knowledgeable experts. Where can one turn for guidance on those species that really aren't "right" for the private, amateur aquarist to acquire and maintain? Thanks for allowing me to vent. And I promise, no more impulse buys before doing my homework. <Yes, if more people didn't buy these things, the LFSs wouldn't order them.> Best regards, Rick <Good day to you. James (Salty Dog)> 

Flame scallop Husbandry Bob [or his minion]:  <James today> A few days ago I admitted to the error of buying a flame scallop before doing my homework, and to my understanding of how difficult the little guy was going to be to care for. Since then, just about everything I have been able to find, on WWM and elsewhere, is mostly lamenting the foolishness and/or cruelty of the fact that they almost always starve to death. <Yes!> Well, having bought one, I was prepared to take full responsibility for doing everything within reason to maximize its chances of survival. In the days following I have acquired four more, including a couple from a LFS where their care was dodgy at best. My rationale is this: I am fully aware of what is involved, and can at least commit that the new ones will get the same chance as the first one, rather than having them be purchased by people who won't make the effort. Further, everything I read indicates they do better in groups. Finally, if I am going to stick my arm in a tank of venomous fish every day to feed one [lions and scorpions and Foxface, oh my!!] , I might as well feed more than one. In for a penny, as they say. They reside in a 75 gallon tank, with 105 lbs. of live rock. Water parameters are very good, and I am using two power heads, one with a rotating deflector, to provide strong circulation. I have been feeding each by dropper, daily, directly injecting a product called Marine Snow.  <Rick, in my opinion, Marine Snow does little or nothing.>  During feeding, and for 30 minutes after, I suspend mechanical filtration and water movement. I also add another product, "Invert Gumbo"... <Another nitrate producer>  ... and have added an iodine supplement as well. Over the last week, each scallop has improved dramatically in color, relocated to a spot of its own liking, and displayed more vigorous movement of its tendrils.  Is there anything else at all that you can think of that will enhance their chances, either in the area of a feeding regimen or of a supplement or enhancement to the tank environment? Would the addition of some sort of vitamin supplement, or something like Selcon, make a positive difference? I'd appreciate any suggestions.  <Selcon would help some, but I would use DT's phytoplankton or Cyclop-Eeze phytoplankton for feeding. DT's is actually live phytoplankton. Keep your calcium at 375-400ppm along with a dKH of 8-12 as the scallops do require calcium. James (Salty Dog). Rick, keep a record of your experiment and if you have long term success, let us know.> 
Flame scallop Husbandry - Follow-up
James, Thanks for your quick response. <You're welcome>  A few more details, if you don't mind. I certainly trust your opinion on the Marine Snow, but why so? Is it the wrong type of micro-critter, or is the processing of the product what renders it ineffectual? Similarly, you note that the Gumbo stuff is another nitrate builder.. is this because it's just wasted organic matter in the system to decay uselessly? <Rick, all I will say is that in my opinion, these products are not good source of food for invertebrates. Believe me, using them will help algae more than it will help the inverts.> I checked with Marine Depot's website, and they carry the DT's stuff, which I should have by this weekend. They also offer oyster eggs for reef feeding. Any thoughts on whether they might be worth a try? <I have not heard anything bad about the product.> They also seem enthused about a spray-dried phyto product, touting its high level of HUFA's. Thoughts? I am open to just about all reasonable possibilities to make this work. <Rick, go to their website, very informative. I think this will answer all your DT's question. www.dtplankton.com > Having read your reference to my 'experiment', I've decided to make it just that. Off to the store to buy more testing capability, and I intend to journal my progress and record conditions at regular intervals. If I can keep these guys alive and healthy for a year, somebody somewhere owes me a cold one. <Well Rick, I certainly like cold ones. Be glad to share a few with you. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for all your help. Rick <You're welcome>
Flame scallop Husbandry - Seeing the Light? Part III
James, Thanks for the website reference.  <You're welcome>  It is very illuminating. For the first time, I feel like I have an overall understanding of the feeding process. The incidental beneficiaries of this new-found knowledge will be my feather dusters.  <Good luck in your experiment and keep me posted, sounds interesting. James (Salty Dog)> 

Bivalves i have a serpent starfish and i really would like to feed it live food.  after billions of years of evolution i think its a shame that i have to  hand feed them. i don't mind spending 5 bucks every week or so for a  peppermint shrimp/camelback shrimp for my lionfish to hunt around for (i  inject the live food with multivitamins). ill also feed him a vitamin  injected goldfish/damsel every other shrimp. back to the question... do you  know of anywhere i can get my hands on some small bivalves that i can set  in my main tank for the starfish to eat? i have a refugium and a 10 gal  hospital tank always running. right now the hospital tank is growing  Caulerpa. if i have to luck out with uncured liverock do you know any way to  breed the little bivalves? call me crazy but i think that the livestock are  better off hunting their own food, after all a hunt would be a good way to  entertain oneself in a 55gal aquarium. Jon Trowbridge  >> Be careful on the live bivalves question... for them getting loose (esp. ones that are capable of tolerating freshwater, and pollution, and disease reasons... but you can probably get someone (local) to collect and ship you Mytilus/mussels from a seashore (don't say this ten times fast)... Or, look into the "Green Lip" ones that are sold, cleaned, even-halved, frozen, up from Kiwi Land/Zealand... they're really cheap here at the oriental food superstores (two pounds for five bucks... how's that prepare to Tetra Min?). Bob Fenner

Perry, with Clams, Dollars in His Eyes Hi Bob Will be sending u a copy of Asian Geographic. What is your latest mailing address? <8586 Menkar Rd. San Diego, CA 92126> Have a question for you. Are cockles and clams popular in the marine hobby? <Only Tridacnid/Giant Clams really> Know someone who brings in such stuff from Indonesia and sells it to supermarkets for about US10 cents per 100 grams. Singaporeans like to cook them in chili sauce. <Deelish! Bob Fenner, who wonders if you'd like to join our entourage at Kungkungan Beach Resort, Slaws in January. Think we may be able to get a favorable rate, great diving... Or back to Taveuni in May?> Perry

Flame Scallops that aren't Mr. Fenner, just wanted to say thanks for your prompt answer to my flame scallops question. this saltwater thing is much harder than I thought. but what really frustrates me is the fish stores. sales people are selling fish, left and right not informing people properly of the fishes needs, I think to myself, poor fish its doomed..... I've learned a couple important things from you, the number one thing being research, research, research.... thanks for your expertise...Jennifer <A privilege and honor my friend. Bob Fenner>
Flame Scallops that aren't II/Crew
Mr. Fenner, just wanted to say thanks for your prompt answer to my flame scallops question. this saltwater thing is much harder than I thought.  <naw... you just lucked out on the steep end of a learning curve. It all gets better and easier in time> but what really frustrates me is the fish stores. sales people are selling fish, left and right not informing people properly of the fishes needs, I think to myself, poor fish its doomed.....  <lesson here: the informed consumer has no worries on this matter> I've learned a couple important things from you, the number one thing being research, research, research.... thanks for your expertise...Jennifer <always welcome... keep learning, sharing and growing. Best regards>

Flame "Scallop" hello Mr. Fenner, I've been getting lots of information from your web site that has been very helpful. I have several questions for you... I have a flame scallop via my boyfriend, whom I told was hard to keep,  <Put a tether on him. Oh, you mean the Lima scabra> but he thought it was neat) <Mmm, what do you think, feel?> how do I keep it alive. I was told they only live for six months. <Most, a much shorter time> can I feed it and my other salt water fish blood worms? do I squirt the food into the scallops opening? does it need plankton? when I buy fish from the market should I be concerned about hormones and other stuff injected into them. I think that's it for now. thanks in advance Jennifer <No worries re hormones. Please use the Google search feature on the homepage of www.WetWebMedia.com (on the bottom of the page), looking for input on "Flame Scallop" or the scientific name of this Pen Shell above. Much to consider as humans, consumers re how we "cast our votes". Bob Fenner>

Re: thank you (Flame Scallop, challenging marine livestock, life) Anthony, Thank you and of course I agree with you....about the animals sent..... <thank you for understanding... as we (WWM crew) answer e-mails and share opinions in somewhat of a mentoring fashion, it seems necessary to step up on a soapbox a little bit at times for the greater good of the many other aquarists that browse these posted FAQs. Diligent and sincere folks such as yourself are the best place for challenging animals. But not all aquarists have the time or heart to dedicate to animals such as flame scallops and various anemones, for example. As such, they need to know that it is not OK to just accept them into their tank when a dealer pushes them and just hope for the best> it did send me into a learning frenzy but I know that it was not a good idea..... <I'm very grateful and delighted that you were inspired so urgently to want to learn about the needs of these animals> I am enjoying this tank so much....I joked with Bob F on a previous email and wondered when the reduced heart rate thing was going to happen and actually a few times I have sat with my new tank and husband and boy and really enjoyed just watching....relaxing....not feeling that I have to run and do an ammonia test.....it is a wonderful little metaphor for many things. <yes... truly a wonderful hobby for all the right reasons> Thanks for the help. I'm ordering some phytoplankton for the Flame......dig ya later.....Helene <very good, and do learn about the feeding technique of the phyto substitute from past FAQ/message board posts, etc. (keep refrigerated, buy and use fresh only <6 months old, and whisk in a blender or like device before feeding. Best regards, Anthony>

Mussels Hi Bob, I was wondering if adding New Jersey sea animals to my aquarium is a good idea. (Your thinking probably not???)  <Depends... on whether they're physiologically, physically, behaviorally compatible... to what you can offer> My aquarium is a 30 gallon fish and hardy invert tank set up for a few months. Its got a Prism skimmer and a Marineland Emperor filter, and 20 lbs of live rock and 3 lbs of live sand. It contains 4 blue leg hermit crabs, a damselfish, and 2 porcelain crabs. I was thinking of adding mussels, crabs of different sorts, and maybe a few other bivalves. I see many butterfly clams (Donax variabilis) on the shore especially at low tide. Is it wise to include them into my tank, or should I just find other things to put in it? Thanks much for putting up with me, Jen. <Well, this is really a small volume of water... what will you do when it's the equivalent time of winter there? Return the native animals? Get a chilling mechanism and remove the tropical animals? I encourage you to study what the shore there has to offer (much, have been to NJ numerous times), and perhaps put up a specialty tank that mimics the conditions (thermal, current, lighting...) of some part of the offshore environment and attempt to keep a few types of organisms you have a desire to study further. Bob Fenner>

- Clam Selection - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have a 120 gal. reef tank that I'm in the process of getting up and running. I had to take it down when I moved, and put as much stuff as I could into a 29 gal. tank. I resold a lot of rock and soft corals, and now only have a clownfish (I can't remember what kind, but it is orange with banded white stripes and a yellow tail), a 8" bubble anemone, a small cluster of Derasa mushrooms (12 to 16 polyps), several clusters of unidentified (as yet) polyps, and about 35 lbs. of live rock. The substrate consists of 30 lbs. of sugar size Aragamax sand, 20 lbs. of Arag-Alive special grade reef sand, and around 35 lbs. of crushed coral from my old tank, some of which I rinsed with the water in my old tank to avoid killing bacteria, the rest was soaked in freshwater and rinsed thoroughly to avoid waste transfer. If that sentence was unclear, the Aragamax and Arag-Alive are new, the crushed coral is "recycled". I utilize a sump with a Little Giant pump for the return. I have a Red Sea Berlin skimmer, which I just upgraded to "Turbo" (my Mag-Drive pump died). My next purchase will be a 100 lb. box of live rock. Please forgive me if this e-mail is too long, but I have several questions, and I know you'll need the background info. <No worries.> My goal is to have a tank that is very healthy for soft corals and anemones. <Please read/study more on anemones before you place them... they are best left in the ocean, but if you insist then they should be placed in their own tank.> I also want a couple of clams later. <Hmm, well... for either the anemone or the clams you will need [most likely] to upgrade your lighting if you haven't already to something in the neighborhood of the intensity of Metal Halide lamps.> I have been reading a good bit about the benefits of a refugium and will add one soon. I was wondering if you had any recommendations for plants to go in it? <Just macro algae - Caulerpa works very well, but there are other alternatives.> I want it to be a source of nutrition for my soft corals, how can I achieve that best? <By taking your time and allowing the tank to mature for about a year... it can take a while.> What is your opinion on using a mud type substrate in the refugium? <Many people have had great success with this method. I myself have not used it.> Have you ever used a product called Spectra-Vital? <No.> Does it live up to its claims? <I doubt it... many of the Marc Weiss products are just simple sugars which provide only a modicum of nutrition, but are really just 'one more thing' for you to spend your money on. There are better, more natural ways... the refugium for instance.> To have something to experiment with in my tank while I get the expensive stuff together, I bought 6 oysters from a local restaurant. The were on ice, so I put them in chilled seawater and allowed them to come to room temperature overnight in a bucket with an airstone for aeration. That morning I checked to see if they were still alive, and they were. I put them in my sump for two days (for easy access in case they died) to make sure they would survive. They did, so I moved them to the main tank, where I'm sure 5 of 6 are still kicking. Three close in response to shadows, two close when poked at, and I haven't noticed the last open yet, but I can't open it by hand so I think it may still be alive. Now that it seems like they'll make it, i need to know what to feed them, but I can't seem to find much on oysters. <I can't honestly encourage this... most all food-oysters come from waters that are less tropical than most reef tanks are set up for. Especially considering that these were on ice, their health is likely compromised. Unless you run a chiller, or leave your heaters unplugged, these oysters aren't going to live for very long. Additionally, it's just not wise to put things in your tank before you know how to care for them. Please learn to reverse this trend before you place anything else. Research - then obtain.> Would some sort of phytoplankton preparation work? <It might.> What do you recommend? <Removing the oysters, perhaps make some butter sauce and eat them?> Any help would be greatly appreciated. John Jordan <Cheers, J -- >

Blue Sponge & Flame Scallops-up - 2/16/03 Thanks for the prompt response. I have power compacts 50/50's (10K and blue actinic) Yes I had read about not exposing them to air. OK so since I don't have metal halides I should not get one. <Truthfully, the lack of halides doesn't totally exclude you fro keeping blue sponge. Under fluorescents, if you can get the sponge within the top 10" of water with mostly daylight lamps and not so much actinic blue (just like you will have to do for SPS corals)... this sponge can live well. Be sure to change your lamps every 6-10 months. Definitely an expense/bummer about PCs/VHOs. Halides though are a much better value (cost of light produced, PAR per watts, life of bulbs at 2-5 years each!, etc) and they would be better for growth in this sponge> I don't have the coral yet in my 90 gal reef getting one on Tuesday. But I plan to have mostly LPS and SPS and a few fish... <try to go with mostly LPS or mostly SPS... the two together are incongruous (low vs. high light and heavy vs. no-target feedings... not to mention heavy chemical warfare in the long run... post 1 year)> Right now I have a Regal Tang, Domino Damsel, Cleaner Shrimp, Flame Scallop,1 hermit crab and some snails...I plan to get a few more fish (On Tuesday getting 2 Perculas and a bubble coral) Let me know what you think. <I think you should find the jerk that sold you the flame scallop and kick him in the jimmy <G>. Poor bugger (the Fileclam- AKA "scallop") is doomed to die of starvation within a year if it even gets that far. Unless you have a live phytoplankton reactor... seriously. A very difficult animal and most starve to death slowly. Sorry to be a buzz kill, my friend. But you needed to know/asked <G>. Best of luck. Anthony>

Lima sp.  Lima scabra I have looked at all of the links and info you have provided on Lima scabra. I was researching them for a possible tank candidate. Thanks to your info and a long exhausting internet search lima scabra will definitely not be added. I was wondering though, are lima sp. and lima scabra one in the same or a closely related species? <Mmm, well, Lima (or Limaria) spp. includes all species, Lima sp. any particular species of the genus Lima... Lima scabra is certainly the most commonly offered species of Lima in the pet trade> I keep seeing both of them being sold at the same place under these two names. One is labeled Electric Eye Scallop (lima sp.) and the other as Fire Scallop (lima scabra). The electric had fewer (or maybe just less dense) tentacles than the Fire. Unfortunately for the scallops and customers the description of the scallops said they were both easy to keep, and better yet they were part of their "Hugh Blow Out Sale". Hmmmm, I wonder why? <I share your skepticism/cynicism... likely "blown out" before they croak!> The Electric was the same size as the Fire but more expensive. Just curious. Thanks for your time,  Shauna <There seems to be a general trend that Pacific species are sold as Lima sp. and the Atlantic as Lima scabra... Bob Fenner>

Culturing the Thorny Oyster? How about Keeping it Alive? 7/18/04 Hi, great site.  I read everything you had about the thorny oyster, and have been searching the internet with only limited success.   <there is not much info known/published on them for aquarium use... they are extremely difficult to keep alive and most responsible aquarists leave them in the ocean, or at least don't buy them> I have become a great fan of the thorny oyster and have decided I would like to have a crack at spawning and/or culturing the animal.   <keeping them alive for even a year would be a great feat in itself. Most hang in for some months (a few over 6 months) before finally succumbing to attrition/starvation> I was hoping to find a source of spat or small oyster seed and/or instructions on how to induce spawning.   <do look into the fisheries data (use university libraries/databases for this) on Tridacnid clams and other better studies bivalves. There is much info there to be assimilated I'm sure. Gerry Heslinga is a pioneer here and did some great papers on the sub-family Tridacnidae. Temperature, salinity shock were used at times... also serotonin infections as well as other hormonal treatments. Some bivalves will simply spawn just by the sensation of an egg in the water (sacrificing a ripe specimen for eggs top disburse). This all presumes that you can even rear your oysters to be sexually ripe/ready, and frankly... no-one can clearly say what it is that they eat in captivity or how to provide it. Bottled phytoplankton is unlikely to be a solely adequate staple> I have three oysters from local fish stores.  I have read everything I can find on Husbandry of the Giant Clam, and a bit on Cultivating popular eating oysters.  Can you direct me to a source of oyster spat/seed for the Thorny Oyster, and/or groups doing oyster raising locally in the US. Thanks, Kevin Meade <I share your admiration for this animals... but as my third query of the hour from a person that bought an animal that they do not know how to keep (what they even eat or if they can provide it), you have honestly bummed me out mate. No hard feelings. but please do consider the seriousness of the matter. If you are the one man that knows how to feed and keep Thorny Oysters in captivity for a full lifespan and not just a few weeks/months from purchase, then you need to do the industry and science a favor by telling us how (with all due respect here, sincerely). If not, I assure you that yours will be dead inside of 12 months. I have no wisdom to share other than above here. Anthony>

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