Distribution in NSW: Patchy distribution: Richmond, Clarence, Upper Macleay (Apsley River), Hawkesbury-Nepean rivers; western creeks of Shoalhaven River; Snowy River
Microhabitat: Still water or slow current areas in pools, farm dams, impoundments, lower reaches of rivers. Inhabits temporary creeks; broad environmental tolerance
Appearance: Oval, occasionally globose, light shell, yellow to dark brown. Beak sculpture absent. Maximum shell length 100mm
The Freshwater Mussel – Velesunio ambiguus is a native of the Murray Darling System. There are a huge number of different species of freshwater mussels
in the rivers and lakes of NSW.
To help identify what mussels you have in your local stream the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage offers a guide,
Mussels are most likely to be found in the middle or lower sections of permanently flowing streams.
However, floodplain mussels (Velesunio ambiguus) are an exception; they can be found in temporary creeks and ponds, including farm dams, and avoid strongly flowing rivers.
Mussels are excellent for dams, ponds or fish tanks. These Mussels grow well in farm dams and breed readily, a minimum of 100 mussels are required to
establish a population in a normal farm dam or ornamental pond.
Freshwater Mussels are biological filters, they filter large volumes of water to extract their food, removing nutrients, algae, bacteria and organic detritus
from the water. Mussel waste products are food for other animals
and they, in turn, are food for water rats and platypus.
People with earthen farm dams growing fish or yabbies grow mussels with them for much the same reason, they are biological filters filtering the algae
and bacteria from the dam water cleaning it.
They are especially important if you are swimming in the dam.
The males release sperm into the water column, the females then suck the sperm in with the normal water they take in. The eggs are then
fertilized and incubated inside the female mussel.
Baby mussels ejected by the female and require a host stage to develop into miniature adults. Fish are the best hosts and any of the native fish such as
Silver Perch, Golden Perch and Bass will do as well as the ornamentals like Goldfish and Koi.
Mussels have a large strong, tough tongue that they push themselves around the dam with or burrow into the pond bottom. The mussel burrows into the sediments with only the top tip of the mussel shell protruding
from the mud.
From this position the inlet and outlet tubes filter the water.
To capture mussels you need to run your hands along the bottom of the dam and when you feel this round top of the shell you can pull them from the mud.
Freshwater mussels are traditional aboriginal tribal food. However, we consider them pretty rough tucker, you need to be hungry to eat them.
Occasionally you will get pearls in these mussels and they are well suited to a
freshwater pearl industry.