Clams are a great low-maintenance addition to any tank because they naturally filter out microorganisms and create beautiful, decorative structures on the bottom. However, just because they are low maintenance does not imply that they do not necessitate any work. Clams can easily become a part of your next aquatic ecosystem if you have a little knowledge.
Method 1 Caring for Freshwater Clams
1. For the best results, keep clams in well-established tanks. Clams are animals, not plants, despite the fact that they are frequently marketed as “filters.” This is only partly correct. Clams are “filter feeders,” which means they eat small organisms and algae that they pull out of the water, as opposed to plants, which filter chemicals out of the water and use light to make food. A brand new tank, on the other hand, will have no other life developed, which means your clams may starve if not properly cared for.
2. Make sure your clams have a sandy bottom. Clams like to hide and feel safe at the bottom of the tank, filtering out all the food waste and leftovers that sink to the bottom. For them to nest in, you’ll need about 4 inches (10.2 cm) of sand.
Make sure to thoroughly rinse your substrate (sand) before adding it to the tank, especially if it came from a natural environment.
You want a nice, fine substrate with grain sizes ranging from 1 to 3mm.
3. Add other fish to your aquarium to make a vibrant environment for your clams. Snails and coldwater fish produce food waste and scrapes that are ideal for feeding your clams. With a healthy ecosystem surrounding them, most clams will require little other care aside from the occasional checkup, as they eat the leftovers of other fish. They can also help to keep your tank clean by removing algae and microorganisms.
Freshwater puffers, some catfish species, and loaches will all eat clams if given the opportunity, so keep them in separate tanks.
4. Feed your clams 1-2 times per week to supplement their natural diet. Your clams can eat a lot of the food left over by the rest of the tank, but they will need some extra food to truly thrive, especially in newer tanks with fewer organisms. This is especially important if you have a large number of clams or a large number of larger, adult clams. You can use clam food, which is often sold as “sinking algae wafers” at your local pet store, or you can make your own mixture, which is pureed in a blender and given to your clams individually:
1/3 pound red meat (hamburger, liver, heart, etc.) OR Fish with Roe
Blood of Beef (drippings from beef package)
1 teaspoon cod liver oil
14 teaspoon yeast
2-3 tablespoons of water from the clams’ aquarium
5. To determine health, take note of how quickly a clam closes its shell. If you touch it or it feels threatened, a good, healthy clam will spring shut quickly. This is an instinctive clammy defence mechanism. Pull your clams out every 2-3 weeks and make sure they close up quickly. Finding dead clams can be difficult because they bury themselves in the sand, but you can make it easier on yourself by doing the following:
In a clean, single-serving applesauce container, make 10-20 holes.
Fill the container with 2-3 clams (depending on size).
Cover them with sand so that the tops are still visible.
Place the container at the bottom of your tank and remove it with your clams whenever you need to inspect them.
6. Remove any dead clams from your tank as soon as possible. Dead clams emit a large amount of ammonia, which can harm or even kill the other animals in the tank. This is why it is critical to check your clams on a regular basis. Make certain that they continue to close quickly. If they refuse to close at all, they are most likely dead and should be discarded.
Dead clams have a foul, fishy odour as well.
If you’re not sure if a clam is dead, set up a small “maintenance tank.” Feed them and provide a nice, sandy bottom for 4-5 days to see if they start to react.
7. You should not use clams to filter your water. Clams aren’t water filtration systems, and they won’t keep your tank clean and happy all by themselves. To keep your tank healthy and happy, you’ll still need a water filtration system, plants, and carefully monitored water levels.
Method 2 Caring for Saltwater Clams
1. Saltwater clams should not be kept in new or immature aquariums. You can’t just put saltwater in a tank and expect a clam to survive; it needs a diverse community of microorganisms to thrive before it can feed. Clams thrive in well-established aquariums that have been cycled for several weeks or months.
T. (Tridacna) maxima, T. crocea, T. squamosa, and T. derasa are the scientific names for saltwater clams.
Tridacna derasa clams are the best beginner options because they are hardy and can withstand a wide range of environmental conditions.
You’re probably ready for clams once you’ve successfully placed several fish in the tank and allowed them to live happily for several weeks.
2. Placing clams on the tank’s bottom will allow them to establish themselves. While it may appear to be attractive, never place a clam on a rock or structure. If it becomes detached and falls, it can cause significant damage and even kill the clam. Saltwater clams have a foot that they use to attach to the tank’s bottom, so solid rocky bottoms are fine.
Turn the clam upside-down briefly before placing it in the tank to remove any air bubbles from inside the clam.
Check that the clams aren’t stuck in anything that will prevent them from opening.
3. Make sure your clams have plenty of bright light. Saltwater clams are photosynthetic and feed on the byproducts of other photosynthetic creatures in your tank, such as plants. In their mantles (top section), symbiotic algae produce energy, which the clams then harvest. As a result, they prefer to feed under bright, constant lighting. Metal Halides are your best bet, but high-intensity LEDs or Fluorescents may suffice.
Make sure the clams are facing up and not blocked from the light source.
To survive, Maxima clams require 250 – 400 watt Metal Halide lighting or equivalent intensity.
4. Maintain a low and calm water movement. Clams dislike rapid or fast-moving water because it interferes with their ability to effectively filter food out of the water. The best way to keep your clams healthy and happy is to expose them to indirect, slow-moving currents. Keep your clams away from direct currents and pumps or fans.
5. Maintain low phosphate and nitrate levels. Clams thrive in near-natural seawater conditions, which is likely where you already keep a saltwater tank. If you haven’t already, keep phosphate and nitrate levels to a bare minimum, ideally near zero.
6. To monitor a clam’s health, time how quickly it closes up. When touched or exposed to a shadow, a clam should close up quickly. If it does not, it most likely requires more food and/or light, or your tank may be experiencing chemical issues. If a clam does not close at all, it is likely dead and should be removed as soon as possible.
Dead clams emit a burst of ammonia, endangering the rest of the life in your tank.
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