Pilsbryoconcha exilis (Golden Mussel)

Pilsbryoconcha exilisis popular to aquarists who prefer keeping unusual pets. This species is widely distributed in Southeast Asia. It has also been introduced to the Philippines.

Pilsbryoconcha likes to wander around your tank at night and reaches a size up to 10 cm, it should better be kept in roomy fish tanks. During the day, they will dig in deep into the substrate so therefore the substrate should be of sand or fine gravel.

Mussels feed on finest floating particles which they filter out of the water. Thereby each mussel can filter up to 15 litres of water per hour. However, you will be wrong assuming now that keeping mussels will substitute your filter system. Surely floating particles will be removed from the water (mechanical cleansing) but then the biological cleaning is not given anymore.



Tank mate’s tropical freshwater mussel with most fish, shrimp, snails and mussels is no problem. Best not kept with large aggressive or carnivorous fish. Crayfish (lobsters), crabs can open the shell and eat them and puffer fish will attack them.

The Mussel shell usually only opens a few millimetres when feeding. When dead the shell opens up to 90 degrees and smells.

Compared to the endemic pond clam it stands permanent higher temperatures. In the long run 25°C ain’t no problem. Some keepers report that even slightly higher temperatures up to 28°C as well as lower temperatures down to 20°C have been tolerated. It’s recommended keeping the mussel at a range between 22°C and 25°C. Regarding the water parameters though we can only revert to our own experience: pH 6 to 7 and water hardness around 8 – 20 dGH.

Keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis can be easy in many ways. Under the right circumstances and in the best conditions, Pilsbryoconcha exilis care can be as simple as placing the clam upright on the substrate. But if circumstances and conditions are not right, Pilsbryoconcha exilis care can be difficult. They do not live very long if the environment and habitat are not able to meet their needs.

Pilsbryoconcha exilis spend their time resting on the tank bottom. They may slowly burrow into the substrate until they are nearly covered, leaving only the slightest glimpse of their shell and siphon visible. So, make sure the substrate is fine enough and deep enough to allow the clam to bury itself. The mussels do best in established tanks with stable water parameters, and they seem to like water within the tropical fish range.



Water on the acidic side may not be best for the mussel’s shell over the long term. Ammonia and Nitrites should be 0 ppm, and Nitrate levels should be kept in check with regular partial water changes. Calcium is important too. Pilsbryoconcha exilis needs calcium for healthy shell growth, so it may be worth testing water for Calcium and supplement as necessary.

Take care to avoid medications with copper, as copper can be fatal to the mussels even in very small amounts. Also, be cautious with plant fertilizers. Pilsbryoconcha exilis may be sensitive to some of their ingredients. Be sure to check with the store clerk before adding any plant fertilizers and medications to a tank when keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis.

Pilsbryoconcha exilis are filter feeders subsisting on a diet of tiny bits of floating edible matter in the water column. The source of this “floating food” can be naturally occurring and from supplements.

Aquarium water needs to have plenty of very tiny debris, detritus and decaying matter floating in it. This does not mean that the tank cannot be “aesthetically clean”, it simply means that aquarium water needs to contain sufficient levels of edible matter for the clam to eat. To this end, keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis in moderately or heavily planted tanks is a good idea. Live aquarium plants continuously shed edible plant matter into the water column.

In most cases, feeding a Pilsbryoconcha exilis naturally occurring edible material is not enough. It may be necessary to supplement a clam’s diet with very finely ground Calcium enriched pellets or tablets, fish flakes or algae wafers. As these supplements dissolve, a mussel will begin filter feeding them out. Keep in mind it’s important to avoid overfeeding as access organic matter in aquarium water will lead to water quality issues. Use common sense and test tank water for ammonia levels often.

Another important Pilsbryoconcha exilis care issue relates to aquarium size and the amount of water it holds. There needs to be enough water in the tank to hold sufficient edible matter to support the mussel’s nutritional needs. Some suggest one Pilsbryoconcha exilis can be kept in small tanks like a 10-gallon aquarium. Small tanks may suffice, but in general, the bigger the tank the better. A 20-gallon aquarium may be a safer choice for one Pilsbryoconcha exilis.

It’s important to be mindful that keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis is like keeping other inhabitants in a tank. New hobbyists may think that because the mussels are “filter feeders” they will make water “cleaner” overall. On one level this may be true, but mussels also add to the bio-load of a tank like other living organisms. Therefore, it’s important to avoid overstocking. This is another reason why keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis in larger tanks may be a safer bet than small tanks. The bio-load processing capacity of small tanks are limited and the margin for error is thin.

Aquarium water also needs to be well oxygenated, and moving at a moderate and continuous pace. If the water current is adequate, Pilsbryoconcha exilis will be better able to filter enough edible material to stay healthy. If the water current is inadequate, the mussels may be unable to filter enough edible matter to survive, even if the water holds a lot of food. It’s a good idea to keep Pilsbryoconcha exilis in spots where tank water is really moving, like under a power filter return.

With a little luck, Pilsbryoconcha exilis can live 6 months or more. That said, one of the issues with Pilsbryoconcha exilis is that a quick death is possible. Maybe it’s due to the shift in water parameters between the display tank and the home tank, the stress of being transported, hunger or other factors. Either way, it’s something to be aware of.

When keeping Pilsbryoconcha exilis, it’s very important to be on the lookout for anything that suggests something is amiss. Tell-tale signs of trouble include: the clam shell opening wide, sudden ammonia spikes, deaths of tank mates, and tank water getting cloudy or developing a foul smell.

If there is a suspicion the mussel is dead, it’s important to remove it from the tank right away. Gently lift the clam from the tank with a net for inspection. A dead clam will have an unmistakable repugnant odour.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply