Fisheries Program
Northeast Region

Clubshell (Pleurobema clava)

Life History

These are a creek or small river species. They burrow in and live under coarse sand and gravel substrate at the base of riffles. Females move eggs into the gill marsupial where they will be fertilized by sperm from males as water passes through the gills. Tiny larvae develop over days or month. They are obligate parasites in that they need a host fish to complete their life cycle and to move within the watershed. We know that spawning occurs in early summer but the host fish remains a mystery.


Historic range included the Maumee and Ohio River drainages. The largest remaining clubshell population is in the Tippecanoe River in Indiana but isolated populations exist in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Fun Facts

  • Listed as endangered on February 22, 1993.
  • Lives for 20 or more years.
  • Grows to three inches in length.

More Information

Clubshell and Northern Riffleshell Recovery Plan (pdf - 3.69MB)

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Last updated: December 16, 2011
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