Zebra Mussels

A female zebra mussel can deposit 30,000 to 1,000,000 eggs each year!
Zebra Mussels Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Dreissena polymorpha
Zebra Mussels Physical Characteristics
Brown, White, Beige
2 to 5 years
Zebra Mussels Distribition

Zebra mussels are little freshwater mollusks that appear like little clams.

They generally determine just the dimension of a finger nail, as much as one inch long. Their external covering physical qualities include bands of dark and also light red stripes, making their name from the zebra.

Zebra mussels are the only freshwater mollusk species able to connect to difficult surface areas. They come from Eastern Europe‘s Caspian Sea. Being an intrusive species, they took a trip in tanked ballast water of ships and also various other aquatic vessels right into waters throughout the globe. The mollusks got into The United States and Canada using the Terrific Lakes right into Wisconsin in 1988. Because that time, they have actually been unintentionally delivered to bodies of water throughout 23 states of the USA, more than likely on the hulls and also devices of boat like barges and also using the Mississippi River.

Since a female zebra mussel can disable to 1 million eggs annually, the species quickly prospers where it acquires access. Their capacity to connect to difficult surface areas develops issues for city facilities, such as pipes and also undersea electric energies. Wisconsin’s electric energy has actually invested more than $1 million annually attempting to maintain their systems secure from the mussels.

5 Extraordinary Zebra Mussel Realities!

  • As much as 700,000 zebra mussels have actually been discovered residing in one square meter
  • The mussel’s adjustments to the food internet are as harmful to their environments as contaminants, nutrient air pollution and also acid rainfall
  • Zebra mussels trigger numerous bucks of damages every year by connecting to alcohol consumption water consumption pipelines, nuclear power plant devices and also various other male- made frameworks
  • The mollusks are relocated from one water body to one more by bumming a ride on barges, watercrafts, watercraft trailers, sea aircrafts and also various other boat
  • The mussels initially went into the USA via Lake Michigan in 1988, after that were uncovered in the Mississippi River by 1991

Zebra Mussel Classification and also Scientific Name

The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, was provided its scientific name by Prussian zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in 1771. The freshwater aquatic animal comes from the order Myida, superfamily Dreissenoidea, and also family Dreissenidae. Dreissenidae are a family of little water bivalve mollusks that affix themselves to difficult surface areas.

Dreissena polymorpha is partially originated from the Greek word polymorphos, indicating “of numerous kinds.” The genus Dreissena for which the zebra mussel is called is among wonderful dispute in between Russian and also western researchers. The researchers vary substantially in their designs of species recognition and also classification. Yet 7 species are generally noted as component of Dreissena worldwide, consisting of the zebra mussel. Besides Dreissena polymorpha, just one various other species generally called the quagga mussel stays in the USA.

Zebra Mussel Appearance

Zebra mussels are little mollusks that share physical qualities with clams. They are called for their bands of dark and also light red stripes on their coverings, just like the pattern of a zebra. The inside of their covering is strong white. The majority of these mollusks are much less than 1 inch in size however samplings as huge as 2 inches are regularly discovered.

Zebra mussels are a freshwater species, as a matter of fact, the only freshwater kind able to connect to strong surface areas undersea. They make this accessory utilizing byssal strings, solid, adhesive- like fibers on their bodies. Although their dark- light rotating covering red stripes generally make the mussels simple to recognize, their pigmentation can differ. In the lack of clear red stripes, specifying physical qualities consist of a dark joint in between the leading and also lower coverings and also balance of the leading and also lower coverings. Various other species of dreissena, such as Dreissena rostriformis bugensis have light joints and also crookedness of both coverings.

Zebra mussel, Wandermuschel (Dreissena polymorpha), attached to a rock.
Zebra mussel, Wandermuschel (Dreissena polymorpha), connected to a rockscubaluna/Shutterstock. com

Zebra Mussel Distribution, Populace, and also Environment

Zebra mussels are harmful any place they attack and also establish an environment. As a matter of fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that these mollusks trigger significant adjustments in the hydraulic circulation of rivers and also lakes as observed in the Detroit River. This adjustment in river circulation takes place since the zebra mussels connect to the river base and also difficult surface areas in the water, developing coral reefs.

Their visibility likewise brings about sharp decreases in freshwater shrimp- like microorganisms called Diporeia. Diporeia have high fat and also calorie web content, making them a vital component of the aquatic food cycle in America’s lakes and also rivers, as it has actually been because 10,000 BC. After that, since there are less Diporeia to eat, the mussels likewise connect to decreasing fish health and wellness. In Lake Ontario, lake trout populaces visited 90 percent within 8 years of the zebra mussels’ intrusion. Fish species are likewise revealed to expand 24% slower as a result of the shed nutrients happening from the mussels’ visibility.

Where to Locate Zebra Mussels and also Exactly How to Capture Them

Zebra mussels are greatly focused throughout Europe and also Asia, where they have actually lived for centuries. In the 19th century, the mollusks made their means right into the UK’s freshwater tributaries. In 1988, they got to America and also have actually because made their means right into a minimum of 23 united state states and also are replicating by the millions. According to the United States Geological Study’s recognized truths, zebra mussels are currently in every state beside the Terrific Lakes and also Mississippi River. They are likewise in The golden state, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and also Oklahoma, mentions with rivers that attach to the Mississippi River. As a result of their quick intrusion, high numbers, survival prices, and also couple of predators, the IUCN Red Checklist categorizes the zebra mussel populace as being of least concern.

Zebra mussels like a little alkaline water that varies in temperature level from 68 levels to 77 levels Fahrenheit at 2 meters to 12 meters deep. They do not such as shallower water since the waves make it challenging for them to make it through, however have actually been discovered in water as deep as 60 meters.

Although you can discover zebra mussels under and also difficult surface areas of numerous bodies of water, it is not recommended to capture, eat or maintain them as pets. They are edible however do not taste excellent. The mollusks do not have sufficient nutrients to act as various other pets’ food, either. They likewise filter feed in waters with great deals of contaminants, soaking up those contaminants right into their bodies. This implies they include a high focus of contaminants not secure for individuals or animals to eat.

As opposed to searching for or capturing zebra mussels, the federal governments of a lot of countries suggest doing what you can to combat their intrusion. They advise cleaning your watercraft or various other boat with cozy, soapy water after taking it out of the water. You must likewise never ever take water in a pail, watercraft well, or container from one body of water to one more. Constantly vacant water onto land to prevent unintentionally carrying larvae.

Zebra Mussel Predators and also Victim

Zebra mussels live finest in plankton- abundant water with high degrees of calcium. They require calcium to make their coverings. Calcium degree likewise associates with the visibility of difficult surface areas on which they can affix. Although the mussel can gradually creep to a brand-new area, they like to discover one area and also affix there for as lengthy as feasible. Attracting their nourishment from the water, they do not require to relocate unless it is required for survival. Among the vital truths of their survival is that being fixed plays a large duty in exactly how their predators discover them as well as likewise exactly how they get their nutrients.

What consumes a zebra mussel?

Researchers are still investigating the food cycle pertaining to zebra mussels. Yet a few of the animals that eat them consist of crabs, drum fish, river redhorse suckerfish, river carpsuckers, and also smallmouth buffalo fish. Diving ducks and also various other waterfowl in some cases eat them, as well. Various other species might periodically feed upon them. Yet the mussels do not taste excellent and also include as well couple of nutrients to sustain a healthy and balanced fish diet. Humans must not eat zebra mussels as a result of their poor preference and also the contaminants they soak up.

What does a zebra mussel eat?

Grownup zebra mussels feed upon plankton, waste, and also particles. They filter it from the water in which they live, refining as much as a liter daily. Fundamentally, they filter the water via their bodies, maintaining the nutrients they require and also throwing away the product they do not. In contaminated water, the contaminants are likewise taken in right into their bodies.

Zebra Mussel Recreation and also Life Expectancy

Zebra mussels live 2 to 5 years generally. By 2 years old, they can replicate. To do this, the female launches eggs right into the water where the male launches sperm. One female can launch as much as 1 million eggs annually. A male can launch as much as 200 million sperm. After fertilizing, approximately 500,000 eggs per meter hatch to launch larvae called veligers.

The enduring veligers take a trip on water currents and also swim easily. Their establishing calcium coverings consider sufficient at concerning 2 weeks to 3 weeks old to allow them to decide on a tough undersea surface area. About 10,000 young clear up daily and also strongly connect to their selected area to proceed turning into a grownup. Throughout this time around and also for the remainder of their lives, they filter water and also attract nutrients right into their bodies. The accessory entails making use of string- like hairs prolonging from their bodies, called byssal fibers. These fibers make use of a sticky material like adhesive to maintain them in position. Although they are strongly secured down, just concerning 95% of the young make it through right into the adult years.

Zebra Mussels in Angling And Also Food Preparation

Humans do not normally eat zebra mussels. They are vitamins and mineral- inadequate and also include a high focus of contaminants from the water they infiltrate their bodies. They likewise do not taste excellent.


  1. USGS, Available here: https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-are-zebra-mussels-and-why-should-we-care-about-them?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products
  2. USDA, Available here: https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatic/invertebrates/zebra-mussel
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_mussel
  4. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticanimals/zebramussel/index.html?__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=pmd_nRkD8DWUuN5CuQS0HMySpwmGLsVNEl1Nv2gOcBg1uxI-1633753141-0-gqNtZGzNA1CjcnBszQil
  5. Texas Invasives, Available here: https://texasinvasives.org/zebramussels/
  6. National Park Service, Available here: https://www.nps.gov/articles/zebra-mussels.htm
  7. Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams, Available here: https://lakes.grace.edu/what-are-zebra-mussels/
  8. University of Minnesota, Available here: https://maisrc.umn.edu/zebra-mussels
  9. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Invasives/fact/Zebra.html
  10. US Fish & Wildlife Service, Available here: https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/ANS/zebra-mussel.html
  11. Great Lakes Now, Available here: https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/02/zebra-mussels-impact-good-bad/
  12. Michigan Invasive Species, Available here: https://www.michigan.gov/invasives/0,5664,7-324-68002_73844-368738–,00.html
  13. Washington Ivasive Species Council, Available here: https://invasivespecies.wa.gov/priorityspecies/zebra-and-quagga-mussels/
  14. Iowa Aquatic Invasive Species, Available here: https://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/fish/files/ZM%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?ver=1MEPWLQ91GREtT3IxHTqyg%3d%3d
  15. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Available here: https://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species-List/Zebra-Mussels
  16. Texas Parks & Wildlife, Available here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/exotic/zebramusselmap.phtml
  17. New York Times, Available here: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/26/nyregion/zebra-mussels-emerge-as-a-growing-threat.html

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