[Correction] Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): I’m A Clam and I Need Food


Two weeks ago in my Terrible Advice Tuesday post I told you that clams in your saltwater tank only need to be fed until they are 2-3″ in length. One of my readers pointed out an article that I did not find in my research that suggested otherwise.  While speaking at a trade show last weekend, I ran into the article’s author, James Fatherree, and I quizzed him on the subject.

James confirmed that clams do not need to be fed regardless of their size.  He suggested only feeding a clam if it is in a tank with zero fish for an extended (months on end) period of time.

Therefore, I stand corrected.  Feeding your clam is not necessary, no matter its size.

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Comments for this article (22)

  • Rick says:

    This may sound like a stupid question but why does it matter if fish are in the tank unless that is what they are eating?

  • Chad Hill says:

    I’m guessing, but it probably assumes you are feeding the fish, therefore the leftovers are plenty for what little the clam needs above and beyond the light.

  • Jake says:

    Because fish eat food and then provide deatrus (poop) which the clam then eats to stay healthy.

  • Brad says:

    Rick, Tridacnids take in a certain amount of Phosphate, and need it for optimum health. With no fish, there’s no need to feed, and thus a high probability that you are not adding any phosphate to the system.

  • Jeff says:

    Life cannot live by light alone. Light allows organisms to incorporate oxygen, hydrogen and carbon into usable forms. However, all organisms need nitrogen and phosphate as well (through not a lot).

    Bivalves don’t eat poop. They eat phytoplankton.

  • Matman says:

    Some foods or supplements can have great effect on clam colors and health. Like corals, you don’t need to feed them, but it will help. Fauna marin ultra clam and reef vitality can help alot. Zeovit sponge power have an effect on them too. I’m sure they love plain phytoplankton too.

  • Thanks Mark! Its nice to see people (leaders) gravitate to correction rather than defense.

  • Roger says:

    Im still wondering here because LiveAquaria.com still says under 2 inches they need supplemental phytoplankton?

  • Bob says:

    @Roger: That’s likely because LiveAquaria.com (drsfostersmith) sells supplemental phytoplankton.

  • Darrell says:

    I have two clams, a 4 inch Maxima, and a 13 inch squamosa, and I have yet to feed them a drop of phytoplankton. I have had the squamosa for almost 3 years. Seems they get plenty of food from photosythesis. All phyto does for me is make my water cloudy, and fill up skimmer.

  • Kevin Petersen says:

    So why is it that every baby clam I get dies, but my big clam keeps growing.

  • Kevin…there’s lots of potential reasons. One of the things James pointed out to me is that it takes a long time for a clam to starve (light starve included) to death. Therefore one clam could appear to be doing well yet might be nearing the end and then suddenly dies.

  • RGibson says:

    What is the best way to control Majano anemones?

  • Darrell says:

    Kevin Peterson, what species of clam have you been struggling with? A big problem with Maximas is the pinched mantle. Croceas can have this problem also. My Maxima had it. I noticed when I brought it home, it had a very light spot where the mantle had bleached a little, and the clam wouldn’t open all the way. I had a friend that owns a fish store come by and look at it, as I started to worry about it having the same fate as other much smaller Maximas that I bought, only to have them die. He noticed the P.M right away, and told me to do an RO/DI freshwater dip for 15 minutes, and see how it was doing in a couple of days. Within hours the clam was doing better, and within a week had opened up beautifully, an the bleached spot was gone. Look into pinched mantles. Could very well be your problem.

  • Jimbo says:

    Glad that is finally put to rest! We all can sleep tonite now…. peace even my Clam.

  • Graham says:

    You’re all missing the point of what Mr saltwater tank is trying to tell you all. The reason tridacnids don’t need to be fed in an aquarium which also houses fish is because these invertebrates utilize the the nitrogenous waste from the fish feces as a fertilizer for the symbiotic algae living within the clams mantle tissue. Please read up on the biology and physiology of the animals you are attempting to keep in your aquariums. There are so many good books out there. This should not be an issue. Do your part to help preserve the world’s coral reefs. They are a treasure.

  • Graham says:

    Will 2013-2014 see the first ever captive bred Emperor Angel fish ? Now that the Koran angel, blue ringed angel and the yellow map angels have all made their debuts from breeders in Indonesia , Taiwan and the United States , it isn’t much of a stretch for other large pomacanthid s to also be bred under captive conditions. The dedicated hard work of these pioneers of coral reef fish breeding should be encouraged and supported. Pelagic spawners are the next frontier of reef fish breeding.

  • Roger says:

    @Bob ,, thats good reasoning , BUT! i do trust liveaquaria.com and they also sell clams under 2 inches and advice supplemental feeding now since I raise my own phyto is it BAD to supplemental feed them until they grow a bit ?

  • Roger says:

    Im sorry but after reading Mr James W. Fatherrees article i feel he had conflicting info himself , it was a very informative article though

  • Roger says:

    And some of the the References he was quoting was from 10 to 15 years ago,,,, so with that said when I purchase something from a reputable place like Liveaquaria and they recomend supplemental feeding I will follow THEIR instructions,,,,

  • Kevin Petersen says:

    We talk a lot about selecting healthy fish, what do we look for when selecting a healthy clam?

  • Frank says:

    @Rick: as Jeff stated, life with no life can not happen. So, as fish eats food the processed byproduct exits the fish as nitrogenous compunds which in exchange play a role in a the aquatic ecosystem by feeding microfauna and other dependable creatures. Therefore, if you ever see someone having a “coral tank” (no fish at all) I will assure you that those animals will lack of color as the most evident sign of malnutrition. Even in such enclosed ecosystems, as marine tanks or freshwater tanks; it is imperative as hobbyists to mimic the natural conditions where the animals are found in nature wich will lead to a success in any animal related hobby. Regards, Frank.

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