Experiment Idea with Clams.... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Experiment Idea with Clams....

Since I've started reading on aquatics again I've noticed quite a bit of controversy over the issue of clams in a freshwater aquarium. This got me to wondering if anyone has tried an experiment whereby, in a small and controlled setup, one effectively replaces some, most, or even all of the filtration system with clams?

Why am I bothering with this you ask? Well, it seems as though the two main problems with freshwater clams are that they starve and that they are cold water doo-dads (scientific term). Well, I'd suggest then that they simply not be put in a warmer aquarium (they don't call me Cap't. Obvious fer nuthin' :P ), but more importantly, since they need to filter alot of microscopic detritus, they probably also need to be in an environment that is a little bit on the dirty side. I can't tell you how many times I've read that clams need to have 'clean' water in order to thrive!? That seems bass ackwards to me.

So let them do their job then and see what happens. I'm not suggesting putting a few hundred dollars of fish in the tank to do this, but it seems that this would be an excellent indicator as to the filtering capabilities, and their food needs, of our clammy pets. So has anyone tried this or heard of such an experiment?

If not, then when I get moved I think I'll do this very thing, but I'll want to make sure that the experiment is fairly controlled. Frankly, I don't think that this is a viable option in most cases, but I think in some limited circumstances this might work, but I'm not sure if this is pure quack-theory on my part....

Thanks for any input....
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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Well, here is a link that leads to a discussion about clams as filters. They've also found some other info., albeit minimal. Apparently some crackpot... err, some different crackpot :) apparently suggested using clams as filters, but he wanted to use saltwater clams and a freshwater tank. Hmmm, I'd like to think my idea isn't this silly....

Anyway, I live on the banks of the Delaware River and there are freshwater clams here, albeit wild ones (cap't obvious at your service again). But I suppose if they could be bred the second generation would be aquarium safe....

So any input?

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post #3 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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I posted this in another clam thread, but I figured that this should be posted here as well. The link below seems to be really good clam information.

Freshwater Clams of the Great Lakes (and other)
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 12:55 PM
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While the clams might remove biological matter floating in the water you still need to filter out non-biological particales, biologically filter the water for ammonia and nitrites, and depending on how you feel about it chemically filter the water. Even with a lot of clams in an aquarium you're still going to have a regular filtration system to deal with the many things the clams can't remove from the water.

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post #5 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 01:10 PM
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+1. Clams can't live off of fish poo alone and they do create their own wastes, so you'd still need other forms of filtration no matter what.

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post #6 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Ah yes, of course, my bad.

When I conceptualized this I had originally intended to include plants in the equation but I hadn't realized that the veggies had since slipped from my thought process. I'm thinking that the elimination of all filtration just isn't possible, but would clams and a variety of plants come closer to a reasonable experiment? Perhaps this would allow for only a minimal use of filtration?

I think the biggest issue would be that the available bioload would be small since the metabolization of the plants (do they metabolize?) is likely to be too modest for a significant amount of fish waste without assistance. But a limited bioload might thrive methinks.

Does this make the idea any better or still a dead end?

Thanks again!
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-09-2008, 10:28 PM
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You should investigate the nitrogen cycle some. The clams will provide some biological particulate filtration and the plants will use some of the nitrates from the water depending on how many plants you have in relation to the fish but you're still not getting any mechanical, chemical or biological filtration. You need to remove inorganic material from the water, ammonia, and nitrites from the water. Neither the clams or the plants will do anything about that and that is the bulk of your filtration.

The clams and plants idea will reduce your frequency or size of water changes due to nitrate use of the plants and the clams will reduce the load your mechanical filter has to deal with. They do nothing for the most important part of water filtration which is eliminating the ammonia and nitrites.

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