Zebra mussel

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Zebra mussel
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Zebra mussels

Scientific classification
Species:D. polymorpha
Binomial name
Dreissena polymorpha
Pallas, 1771

The Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is a mussel originally of southeast Russia.



An adult female Zebra Mussel may produce between 30,000 to 100,000 eggs per year. Spawning usually begins in the months from late spring to early summer. The presence of food is the first factor that contributes to spawning. During this time a large population of algae will produce a pheromone recognized by Zebra Mussels. However, temperature is the main factor in determining when the spawning season begins. The ideal temperature for Zebra mussel is 12 degrees Celsius and higher for spawning to start. If by any chance that above condition does not apply, then spawning may be suspended by that population.


Zebra mussels have been spreading for a long time. In 1850 they were first seen in the Netherlands.

Zebra mussels are causing serious problems in North America where they are considered an invasive species. Zebra mussels were first detected in the Great Lakes in 1988 and have caused widespread damage in this formerly closed ecosystem. It is believed that they were inadvertently introduced into the lakes in the water ballast tanks of ocean going ships traversing the St. Lawrence Seaway.

From their first appearance in American waters in 1988 they have spread to a large number of waterways including the Mississippi and Hudson Rivers disrupting the ecosystem, killing the local unoinoida mussels, and damaging harbours, boats, and power plants, among others.


Zebra mussels are voracious filter-feeding organisms. They remove particles from the water column increasing water clarity. Some particles are consumed as food, and feces are deposited on the lake floor. Non-food particles are combined with mucus and deposited on lake floors as pseudofeces.

Lake floor food supplies are enriched by zebra mussels. The additional organic material, coupled with increased habitat complexity results in increased density and diversity of benthic organisms.


Zebra Mussels are edible, but most experts advise against eating any found in areas of pollution concern since zebra mussels accumulate contaminants and toxins from the water that they filter. As long as they come from a clean body of water, Zebra Mussels can be used in any recipe calling for mussels though they are quite small, so it would take a lot of them for most recipes.

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