Freshwater Clams have long gotten a bad rap for being “impossible to keep.” Which is unfortunate, as they are not that difficult to maintain in most aquariums. Many clams have intense nutrient demands and as a result of poor species choices and limited availability of quality foods, people were only able to keep clams in systems where the water was too dirty for fish. Advancements in available target feeds, especially the live algal mixes from Nutramar have made keeping clams possible in a much wider range of conditions. This is great as freshwater clams from the genus Corbicula are attractive, excellent filters that don't get that big and do well for up to a few years if well fed. They excel at removing particulate matter, including algal blooms, but also help reduce nitrate in the displays they call home.
The Yellow Mini Clam (Corbicula javanicus) is a perfect example of a desirable clam for the freshwater aquarium display; they stay small with a maximum size of around an inch and a half. They have more limited nutrient needs when compared to other similar clams, and as such have been a highly recommended clam since before feeding clams got easier. Lastly they are a beautiful golden / yellow color, making them vastly more attractive than about 90% of the other commonly available clams for aquariums.
As previously referenced, the greatest single indicator for success in keeping any clam alive in your aquarium is available food. Anyone who has added a clam to a cloudy aquarium will tell you about how amazingly clear the water got, and how quickly it happened. This should be a good indicator of how much food a clam needs to thrive in your aquarium. Dense stocking of fish, combined with very light stocking of clams can help supply clams with some of the nutrient load they require. Placing the clam in an area where detritus tends to settle in your tank can further help this natural feeding. All that being said, the best way to successfully keep any clam (and thus Yellow Mini Clams) is to target feed them. An effective way to do this is to turn off the filtration and flow to the aquarium and use a baster full of high quality food to very gently surround the clam with a cloud of algae. Using a live mix like Nutramar's products will help prevent nutrient spikes from over feeding as the remaining food will live in the water column until it is inevitably eaten by the clam, or removed by filtration.
As Corbicula javanicus naturally tends to partially bury itself, a fine sand or very small grain gravel would be best. The clams will find places they like over time, so try to leave them where they “decide” to set up shop. Stable tropical water temperatures around 78 degrees will mimic their wild habitat and should keep them happy. Regular partial water changes (preferably with somewhat hard water) should be more than adequate to keep up with this diminutive clams demands for calcium and alkalinity, unless keeping a very large group is attempted. How many you keep is pretty depended on how much you want to feed. For a first time clam keeper, we suggest having less than 3 for a 20 gallon tank. Unlike keeping fish, where adding more makes water dirtier, adding more clams makes it cleaner, as a result, with enough food, you could put nearly as many as you wanted in an aquarium! They are also very popular in ponds where they can make a huge difference in water clarity and where natural sunlight provides more than enough food for a vibrant algal population, which in turn helps to feed the clams.
If you're looking for some extra filtration for your aquarium or pond, have a fine sand substrate, and are looking forward to a different aquarium keeping challenge, think about getting a Yellow Mini Yellow Clam from Aquatropic today!