The Truth About Cleaner Clams

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reefkprz

Active Member
#1
OK there is a LOT of misinformation flying around about cleaner clams and felt the topic could use a little clarifying for those that are interested in having them.
They are a great way to control nitrates BUT they do not consume nitrates directly.
The hard shell clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) often goes by many names, Quahog, littleneck, cherry stone, and chowder. Usually used in relation to size; smallest being littleneck, then cherry stone, then chowder. Quahog is the all encompassing name. Researchers estimate that the largest quahogs (4 inches or more in length) are as much as 40 years old.
They are populous all up and down the eastern seaboard from Canada's Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Florida. (I believe the ones found on the West
Coast are a different species of hard clam but on this I could be wrong). with the highest densities being in the middle due to predation in the southern regions and cold water in the north
They prefer salinities of 18 to 26 parts per thousand (PPT) where our reef tanks generally run about 35-36 PPT. they do well in warmer waters as opposed to cold.
This bivalve is a filter feeder and will not live with out particulate food, they DO NOT directly absorb nitrogen products like a photosynthetic clam can. they only consume the little organic particles that can lead to nitrates. They do so by sucking water in and passing it over their gills then expelling the filtered water, a large clam can filter about one gallon an hour.
While they can be an excellent thing to help keep nitrates low their best used in aquariums are being feed lots of particulate foods such as used on SPS and other filter feeder-based tanks. The chances of long term survival in tanks that do not contain or are not being fed particulate foods are pretty slim for the long term. Their mainstay in the wild is plankton. If your tank does not have or get dosed with this, an alternative route to controlling nitrates should be sought.
I hope this helps. I will probably be adding more facts about the quahog to this later.
 

earlybird

Active Member
#2
Originally Posted by reefkprZ
they prefer salinities of 18 to 26 parts per thousand (PPT) where our reef tanks generally run about 35-36 PPT.
But they can live in tanks with salinity of 35-36? Does it harm them?
Originally Posted by reefkprZ

they are best used in aquariums thaty are being feed lots of particulate foods such as used on SPS and other filter feeder based tanks. the chances of long term survival in tanks that do not contain or are not being fed particulate foods are pretty slim for the long term. their mainstay in the wild is plankton, if you tank does not have or get dosed with this an alternative route to controlling nitrates should be sought.
Very interesting. I was planning on getting 1-2 but maybe not until my tank matures and I add corals.
Good read.
 

reefkprz

Active Member
#3
Originally Posted by earlybird
But they can live in tanks with salinity of 35-36? Does it harm them?
they do live in higher salinities, I do not know the overall impact on their longevity, It is some of the information I am trying to dig up, alot of info I have found on quahogs is just how to cook them....... there will be more info to come on this later. I will edit it into the first post, then put a bump at the bottom sayign there is new information in the first post.
Originally Posted by earlybird

Very interesting. I was planning on getting 1-2 but maybe not until my tank matures and I add corals.
Good read.
I never added mine untill my reef was very mature. (about 8 months ago)
 
#9
picked up 3 from local supermarket and burped them than pit in tank so now my question is once they bury themselfs how do you know if or when they die
 
#10
Originally Posted by brenda5826
http:///forum/post/2690502
picked up 3 from local supermarket and burped them than pit in tank so now my question is once they bury themselfs how do you know if or when they die

they will resurface and open up all the way....or enough that you know they are dead........if you see your cuc eating it....its dead
 
#13
Originally Posted by hambone
http:///forum/post/2691050
Sorry to sound new............but I am. How do you "burp" a clam?
when you buy the clam from the grocery store, it's basically frozen.... placing him in room temp saltwater will thaw him. he will "burp" by himself. he sticks his tube out and releases whatever sand and water he had inside and now its ready for the tank. If it doesn't burp, it's probably dead
 

florida joe

Well-Known Member
#14
Originally Posted by hambone
http:///forum/post/2691050
Sorry to sound new............but I am. How do you "burp" a clam?
with all due respect to Payton
When moving a clam from one location to another where the clam is out of the water it is possible for the clam to develop a potential air embolism due to some air being drawn into the gills of the clam. When the transfer is complete gently rotate the clam 360' several times to release any trapped air bubbles.
 
#15
Originally Posted by florida joe
http:///forum/post/2691058
with all due respect to Payton
When moving a clam from one location to another where the clam is out of the water it is possible for the clam to develop a potential air embolism due to some air being drawn into the gills of the clam. When the transfer is complete gently rotate the clam 360' several times to release any trapped air bubbles.
never heard of that but interesting to rotate it .
i don't like cleaners anyway....more potential trouble than benefits
 

florida joe

Well-Known Member
#16
Originally Posted by Payton 350
http:///forum/post/2691066
never heard of that but interesting to rotate it .
i don't like cleaners anyway....more potential trouble than benefits
Friend I think people get confused with burping a clam and having it expel any sand and grit. If you want to clean a clam put it in a bucket with some corn meal it will irritate the clam an cause it to expel the corn meal along with any thing else in its digestive system and shell if you want to burp try the 360
 
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