Zebra mussels are small freshwater mollusks that have started growing in various lakes of United States. A zebra mussel gets its name from the striped shell, which are usually in black and white but can be of other colors also. It is unknown as to where and when the creature was found first but some experts suggested that it was first found in Lake St. Clair from where it has now spread to many other lakes and beaches.
Zebra mussels are small-sized mussels and grow up to only 2 inches. They can live for a maximum of four to five years with only 2 percent of them reaching the stage of adulthood. However, one female zebra mussel can produce about 50,000 to 1 million eggs per year and thus making even the 2 percent quite a huge number.
Adult Zebra mussels attach themselves to hard living or even man made surfaces like boats, water pipes, crayfish and turtles. Even though they are not parasite but can still cause a lot of harm to other creatures especially to the ones they attach themselves too. They usually attach themselves to slow moving creatures like turtle or a crayfish.
It was only in the late 80’s or the early 90’s when the Zebra mussels were found in some lakes but only in the last few decades the growth of these species has been phenomenal. Unfortunately, these are not the most favored creatures and can cause a lot of damage. Let us see what kind of damages it can cause.
Firstly, Zebra mussels impact the ecosystem of the lake or the ocean where they are found by disrupting the traditional aquatic food chain. Zebra mussels are filter feeders and an adult Zebra mussel can filter a lot of water in a day. More importantly, the animals and larvae that are a food source for Zebra mussels are also a food source for many aquatic animals, which are important to maintain the ecosystem balance.
Secondly, Zebra mussels can also cause a lot of damage to the boats and other hard surfaces. One odd Zebra mussel may be harmless to the boat but thousands of mussels can choke the water pipe or even haul the engine of the boat. Moreover, they can also cause a lot of damage to swimmers, as the sharp edges of Zebra mussels can be very abrasive against the soft skin.
Therefore, due to some of the reasons above and many more, Zebra mussels need to be eradicated from the lake or ocean where they are thriving in order to maintain the balance in the ecosystem. However, there has been no proven method until now to eradicate Zebra mussels.
3 Ways to get rid of Zebra Mussels
Nevertheless, here are some ways that can limit or control the growth of Zebra Mussels in your area.
1. Dry The Boats And Equipments
If you have a lot of Zebra mussels on your boat then it would be advisable to dry it under the sun. Adult Zebra mussels can survive up to one week without water as long as there is some moisture and shade. Hence drying the boat under the sun will make sure that Zebra Mussels do not survive. You can scrape out the Zebra mussels physically but do not throw the mussels back into the water, as they may be still alive. If you have infected fishing equipment, dry it under the sun for at least two weeks before you can use it again.
2. Chlorine Acts Best Against The Zebra Mussels
Chlorine is the only agent that is known to kill Zebra mussels until now. However, if you plan to add chlorine to a water body that has other living creatures then chlorine may be hazardous for them also. This is the reason why chlorine in spite of being a good agent against Zebra mussels cannot be used in a lake or an ocean.
3. Grow Birds And Fishes That Feed On Zebra Mussels
Some fishes and birds feed on Zebra mussels. Thus, if the area is large and you want to get rid of Zebra mussels without affecting other species, it may be a good idea to consult and research on some types of fishes and birds that feed on the Zebra Mussels. It may not eradicate the problem but it may limit or control the growth of these mussels. Catfish, sunfish and yellow perch are some of the fishes that feed heavily on the Zebra mussels. In fact, some ducks that are known to migrate during various seasons are known to even change their patterns and go into the Zebra mussels’ populated area, as they like to feed on Zebra mussels. However, the climate of your region and other factors should be favorable for the growth of these aquatic animals and birds.