I was thinking about putting this in the Ponds forum, but since it applies more to running water and lakes, and there's no aquaculture subforum I figured I'd just go for the general header!
I've been doing some research into how New Englanders raise oysters, clams, and scallops on the coastline, and wondered if anyone here has any experience or knows of any resources in regards to raising freshwater mussels. They are generally considered inedible by seafood standards for humans, but from my own childhood experiences the rest of the animal kingdom has no such compunctions when scarfing them down.
In ideal conditions they can reproduce in large, resilient populations, and they make for excellent fishbait, their shells provide valuable calcium to plants and poultry, and perhaps they could even be buried at the base of Three Sisters mounds in the place of menhaden. But most significantly, they feed by filtering freshwater, and they could be used to deal with algal blooms, livestock manure, all kinds of biomatter that makes the water murky or an undesirable place to water livestock or take a swim. Or this, at least, is my assumption.
And I figure they could also make a valuable addition to a fishpond ecosystem, alongside introduced carp, bluegills, and crayfish! If returned to a local stream, you might even convince otters or mink to return.
Native freshwater mussels are usually found in flowing clear streams and rivers, so they might not work in pond culture. I know that some of them have been eaten in the Southeast. There is an invasive Asian freshwater clam (Corbicula), which might work better. It is a popular food in Asia and is already found in many bodies of water in the US. I have eaten these myself, and find that with sufficient salt added, they taste similar to oceanic clams....They are, however, quite small and therefore tedious to deal with...
I don't think anyone's suggesting introducing a species. They're already here. I went on a hunt for these, "golden clams" they're called, and we introduced them to an urban aquaculture system. I haven't been back to see if they made it.
I tried to introduce freshwater mussels native to the state to my small garden pond but they all died. Apparently they are very sensitive to changes in temperature and water quality. Also many native kinds are slow growing and may not breed in captivity because they may need certain species of fish as a host during parts of their development. Very complicated critters.
No specific knowledge, but in our ecosystem, freshwater mussels are an indicator of very intact watersheds, and are the first thing to go. I can only this is temperature driven, but I don't know if pH has something to do with it due to the shell formation processes.
Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer