WESPEN Online Order Form print this page
US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Genoa National Fish Hatchery stocks first "home grown" mussels

Region 3, October 16, 2012
Higgins' eye mussels with glue dot markings prior to release
Higgins' eye mussels with glue dot markings prior to release - Photo Credit: n/a
Biologists sieve cage substrate to look for small juvenile mussels.
Biologists sieve cage substrate to look for small juvenile mussels. - Photo Credit: n/a

Freshwater mussel culture at Genoa National Fish Hatchery  in the past has predominantly involved placing fish bearing mussel larvae in culture cages out at locations in the wild known to support mussel growth. Variable stream conditions and the invasion of the zebra mussel have made culture results at wild locations inconsistent.

In an effort to protect against the risk of culture loss, Genoa NFH began to look for alternate options for the culture of freshwater mussels. Last year we placed a few test cages in one of the hatchery ponds to determine if mussels could be raised at the hatchery. Nine cages of five species all produced some level of juvenile mussels. These mussels spent the winter in the mussel building and then were placed in our streamside mussel rearing trailer for this summer to grow large enough to be stocked.

Last month we stocked 160 Higgins’ eye in Pool 3 of the Mississippi River as well as sending 113 fatmuckets, 29 plain pocketbook and 32 black sandshell to Farmers Creek in Iowa. All of these mussels were over an inch in length and large enough for us to mark with a unique ID so that we can monitor their growth and survival in the future. While these stockings are small in comparison to multiple thousands of Higgins’ eye we have stocked in the past from our wild cage efforts, it is still a good start in our efforts to raise mussels in a controlled environment on a consistent basis. We hope that results next year will net more mussels for restoration efforts that have been raised right here at home.

Contact Info: Nathan Eckert, 608-689-2605 ex 115, Nathan_Eckert@fws.gov