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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know These Intriguing Mussel Facts?

Mussels facts are simply amazing.

Mussels can be very interesting creatures to read about. They are tiny creatures that dwell either in saltwater or freshwater. Mussels have been cultivated in recent times as well. They are bluish-black colored organisms, with a nacreous inside within the exterior outer shells. They feed on algae and planktons. Their other behavioral patterns include sticking themselves to rocks through what is known as the byssal threads. Byssal threads are also called beards. The byssal thread comprises a slimy protein content, which is rich in iron. This nature of the byssal thread is suggestive of a strong yet flexible product for future commercial purposes.

This article will let you in on various facts about mussels. These include zebra mussels facts, and blue mussels facts. The fun facts about zebra mussels are so exciting and knowledgeable that every kid will want to know more about them. So what are you waiting for? Keep on reading.

For more similar content, check out oysters and freshwater mussels.

Mussel Interesting Facts

What type of animal are mussels?

Mussels are a type of mollusks that can be found in freshwater as well as in the oceans.

What class of animal do mussels belong to?

Mussels belong to the class Bivalvia.

How many mussels are there in the world?

Though the exact population of mussels isn't recorded, it is known that there are millions of mussels all around the world.

Where do mussels live?

Mussels can be found all across the world. Freshwater mussels can be found in rivers, streams, pools, and lakes. On the other hand, saltwater mussels can be found in oceans and bays.

What is a mussel's habitat?

Mussels can be found in intertidal zones of the world, either low or mid ones. Some species of mussels can also be found in the intertidal zones of tropical regions. However, their numbers are not as inflated as they are in the temperate zones. Some species of mussels reside in bays or marine marshes. Meanwhile, in certain areas, mussels can be seen covering the entire surface of rocks. This can generally be seen in pounding surfs, where the rocks are hit by waves. Mussels can also be found near hydrothermal vents. In particular, the South African mussel can be seen digging into the ground and covering itself with sand. They only stick out two tubes from the sand which are consequently used for food, water and excreting waste. On the other hand, freshwater mussels have a dire necessity for clear and cold water. As freshwater mussels need calcium for their shells, they often prefer to dwell in water bodies with a certain amount of mineral content.

Who do mussels live with?

Mussels are known to live in large groups. Mussels are facing increasing threats due to global climate change. By living in groups, they can retain the moisture of their mussel beds in the water. Thus, staying together helps them to protect each other from thermal stress.

How long do mussels live?

The average lifespan of mussels can extend to 60 or 70 years. Among all the various types of mussels, freshwater pearl mussels are said to have the longest lifespan. The oldest one on record was 134 years old when it was caught in Estonia in 1993.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction process of mussels is very interesting. In the case of freshwater mussels, the females lay eggs during the breeding season. The eggs stay inside the marsupia, which is a special chamber within their gills, and brood. The females then draw the male sperm from the water, with their siphons. After fertilization, the eggs develop into larvae which are termed glochidia. For the reproduction process to be completed, the mussels need to infect a host fish. The method of infection varies across mussels. Some of them release glochidia into the water which then, by default, catches on to a fish. Other times, some mussels can extend their mantle tissue which looks like a small fish. This lures in bigger fish as they confuse the mantle tissue to be their prey. This is when the female unleashes the glochidia on the lured fish by rupturing her marsupial gills. After the glochidia is attached to the host fish's gills or fins, there begins the onset of metamorphosis. After completion of metamorphosis, the glochidia grows into tiny creatures and falls off the fish's body. In the case of the marine mussel, the reproduction process is relatively simpler. The sperm and the eggs are released into the water by the male and the female respectively. These are fertilized and give birth to floating planktons. After a period of one to six months, they become adults and settle on the ocean bed.

What is their conservation status?

Mussels have the status of Least Concern overall. However, out of the 297 species of freshwater mussels found in Canada and the United States, 213 are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Endangered, of Special Concern, or Threatened.

Mussel Fun facts

What do mussels look like?

Mussels are best enjoyed with white wine.

The mussel has an asymmetrical shell which has a greater length and negligible height. The outer hard shell is dark blue or black in color. It may also be tan or green in color depending on the species and the habitat. The insides of the mussel are slimy in nature and silver in color. Males often have a lake coloration while females display an orange color.

How cute are they?

Mussels do not really fall under the category of cute. Their slimy bodies make them quite gross to look at.

How do they communicate?

As of now, we don't have any evidence that suggests that mussels can communicate. It is understood that a mussel cannot directly communicate with another mussel. A mussel can only sense touch, the temperature of the water, and changes in the light.

How big are mussels?

Mussels measure around 2-6 in (5-15 cm) in length. They are almost half the size of a snail or can be even smaller.

Can mussels move?

Yes, a mussel can move. A mussel has muscular feet to do this.

How much do mussels weigh?

Muscles weigh around 0.07-0.2 lb (33.9-93.2 gm).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no separate name for the male and female genders of a mussel. They are simply called a male mussel and a female mussel.

What would you call a baby mussel?

A baby mussel is called a glochidia.

What do they eat?

Mussels are omnivorous in nature. The diet of a mussel varies from phytoplanktons to zooplanktons. They also eat small marine organisms, and free-floating ones too. The mussel goes through a process called the ciliary-mucus feeding. In this process, they absorb water through their siphons which is then brought in to the branchial chamber through the cilia on the gills. The unnecessary or waste water is then pushed out through the excurrent siphon. After this, the food is transported to the mouth of the mussel with the help of the labial palps. Then begins the process of digestion.

Are they dangerous?

No, mussels are not dangerous in general. However, they may cause food poisoning upon consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, mussels can make good pets. It is so because they feed on algae and plankton. Hence, they are sure to keep your aquarium clean.

Did you know...

Mussels do not have any eyes. However, they possess a sense organ that is rudimentary in nature. This is present on the side of their mantles.

Mussels are capable of indicating the quality of the water they reside in. They keep the water clean by respiration and eating which acts as a filter for bacteria, pollutants, and algae. Thus, they are indispensable to nature.

Currently, mussels are under threat because changes are being made to their habitat by humans. Climate change also causes them to die.

Why do people eat mussels?

Mussels have a mild seafood-like taste and mussel meat is chewy in nature. People eat mussels because they are a rich source of long chain fatty acids like DHA and EPA. These fatty acids in turn help with arthritis, and brain function. These animals are also rich in vitamins. Mussels are not too expensive because of their availability. They usually cost less than $6 per pound. Fresh mussels, cleaned once, can be cooked. Mussels are cooked when they are still alive. They are boiled fresh with the mussel shells still on. Once the shell comes out and the soft parts or mussel meat is exposed, they should be boiled for another three to five minutes. They are enjoyed best with white wine. Always make sure that you have fresh mussels to cook because eating dead mussels can cause diseases.

Different types of mussels

There are many different types of mussels in the world. The main classification is as freshwater and saltwater species. Some of the types of species include zebra mussels, blue mussel, rabbitsfoot, snuffbox, horse, suck, and swan mussels.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other sea creatures including the marlin and the fluke fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Mussel coloring pages.

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