Moving clams ?


Premium Member
For some reason the rock my 3" maxima is on is getting overgrown with algae (bryopsis?) and the algae has started growing up the shell. While pulling some algae with a tweezers the max moved, and I realized it's never attached to the rock.

What I'd like to do is remove the clam, scrub the algae off the shell with a toothbrush, and return it to the same location on a new rock. I can keep it submerged up until it's returned to the tank.

Is this an OK plan? Am I risking the clam doing this?

IME, if the clam has not attached, moving poses no real risk, with the exception of very large clams that have been in place for a while, for instance, a full-grown clam that has not been moved in several years.

The reason for this is that a clam gets accustomed to a certain intensity and angle of light, and after years of receiving the same light from the same angle, moving it to where the light might be a little different can be traumatic to the clam. I do not know that this is true by experience; this is a paraphrase of something I read in Knop's book.

If the clam is attached, I would use my finger to hold it in place and scrub it where it sits. Cutting the byssal attachment is much riskier and more damaging than algae on the shell.

However, cleaning your maxima should pose no problem. My maxima has never attached either. Keeping it submerged should eliminate any real risk. Be sure not to scrub any portion of the mantle by mistake.

If for some reason you need to remove the clam from the water, make sure you do it with the clam "lying" on its side (facing horizontally), as this minimizes gravity pressure on the mantle of the clam, which cannot support itself out of water and can tear. This is especially true with larger clams.


Thanks for the "on the side" info. After cleaning the shell I'll have to move it to a container of clean tank water, don't want to seed the tank with little pieces of algae :(.