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Video description
Keeping the water clear is relatively easy in aquaponics, we generally keep the fish tank covered to avoid direct sun exposition.
However, some of you are maybe converting ornamental ponds into aquaponics. If those ponds are directly exposed to sun rays, some microalgae will probably develop. Algae are not a problem for the fish and are a component of the ecosystem but they will turn the water green which is not very convenient to see the fish.
An alternative to covering the tanks is to use natural filters such as freshwater clams to regulate the algae population. Those little molluscs are working very well and filter a significative volume of water per hour (from 24 to 60 litres per day depending on species). Freshwater mussels are very interesting animals. There are hundreds of species of freshwater mussels, some of them are fixed to a substrate (rocks, roots…) thanks to a byssus (strings) and others are scrawling thanks to a “tongue” or “foot”. They are very interesting to observe in the bottom of the fish tank. You may wonder, “Will I be able to grow and eat them?” most freshwater mussels are not edible. Some of them are able to produce pearls but you must be an expert in order to produce such jowels. You may also wonder “Will I be able to breed freshwater mussels in my aquaponics tank?” It really depends on the species you are growing. Most bivalve molluscs are releasing their gametes (sperm and ovules) in the water. When a spermatozoid meet an ovule they form an egg that will give birth to a swimming larvae. Larvae generally stay in the swimming stage for days or weeks before fixing to an object. If is very easy to understand that in those conditions, even if sperm and ovules meet in a fish tank, the eggs or larvae will eventually be sucked by the water plant and finish in the flood and drain grow-bed where it would have very low chances to survive. Most freshwater mussels are actually not following this specific cycle. The males are releasing the sperm into the water but the females are keeping the ovules in their body and when they filter the water, the sperm of the males can fecund the ovules. They are therefore able to get eggs and release perfect larvae in the water. Those larvae are very specific. Unlike most other saltwater bivalves, the freshwater mussel larvae will find a fish and fix themselves on the fins or gills of the fish. We call those larvae “glochidia”. At this stage they are a parasite for the fish. Most of the time it doesn’t affect the fish too much but watch out as a high density of glochidia could weaken the fish. Each species of freshwater mussels (Anodonta spp, Quarula spp, Margaritifera spp …) can use restricted species of fish to host their glochidia. In aquaponics you will need to have compatible fish with the species of mussels you want to breed. If you succeed in this task please leave a comment and let the community know about it 🙂
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Link of the vidéo
The truth about freshwater clams mussels: