Mussels are referred to as nature's filters, because of how they siphon water to eat, and take the particles out of the water.

I have a native tank set up, and I was thinking that maybe I could do away with the mechanical filters, and put in a couple mussels in there instead. Supposedly one adult mussel can filter 10 gallons of water in a day.

Would it be possible to replace my mechanical filters with mussels?

  • Can they filter as small of particles as standard filters? And do they release/selectively not filter any specific particles? It would be bad if you left it, and the tank started to accumulate some kind of waste product because the mussels don't need/filter it. Oct 26, 2014 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


It seems to be the case that certain types of clam reduce nitrates though there does not appear to be much information on this. Forum discussions from hobbyists suggest that there are people using clams for this reason in aquariums but most seem to be of the opinion it does not make a massive difference.

If you are interested in trying you could acquire a test kit if you do not already have one and monitor your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels with the introduction of clam(s) and see what effect this has.

I would not rely on this as your only form of filtration as it may not be reliable and you also run the risk of a nitrate crash if your clam dies.

Also clams are known to bury themselves away in substrate and without careful monitoring it is possible for them to pass away without you noticing, being left to pollute your tank.


I have been doing some research on using Asian clams as mechanical filters and to clean up extra food in the sump/refugium of my 90 gal mbuna tank. Freshwater clams dont photosynthesize like saltwater giant clams and therefore dont lower nitrate, nitrites, or ammonia. They also require supplemental filter feeder food. Otherwise I agree with the previous answer. I intend to try them anyway. maybe I'll update if they work.

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