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Corbicula fluminea (Asian clam)


  • Last modified
  • 29 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Corbicula fluminea
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Asian clam
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Bivalvia
  •         Subclass: Heterodonta
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774)

Preferred Common Name

  • Asian clam

Other Scientific Names

  • Corbicula fluminalis (Müller, 1774)
  • Corbicula leana (Prime, 1864)
  • Corbicula manilensis (Philippi, 1844)
  • Tellina fluminea Müller, 1774

International Common Names

  • English: Asiatic clam; prosperity clam
  • Spanish: almeja Asiatica
  • French: clam asiatique

Local Common Names

  • Korea, Republic of: black clam; jaecheop; kkamak jogae
  • Netherlands: Aziatische korfmossel
  • Taiwan: freshwater clam

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Bivalvia
  •                 Subclass: Heterodonta
  •                     Order: Veneroida
  •                         Unknown: Corbiculoidea
  •                             Family: Corbiculidae
  •                                 Genus: Corbicula
  •                                     Species: Corbicula fluminea

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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In the attempt to end ecomorphotype confusion in the Asia range, Morton (1986) recognizes only two species: Corbicula fluminea a freshwater species and all estuarine dioceous non-brooding species as C. fluminalis. However, this division was refuted when several phylogenetic studies showed clear differences among species (Hillis and Patton, 1982; Hatsumi et al., 1995; Lee and Kim, 1997; Renard et al., 2000; Siripattrawan et al., 2000).

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
plankton All Stages

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acipenser Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Ameiurus serracanthus Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Aplodinotus grunniens Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Cyprinus carpio Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Ictalurus furcatus Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Ictiobus bubalus Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Ictiobus niger Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Lepomis macrochirus Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Lepomis microlophus Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Minytrema melanops Predator All Stages McMahon, 1983
Pimelodus maculatus Predator All Stages Garcia and Protogino, 2005
Pterodoras granulosus Predator All Stages Garcia and Protogino, 2005
Ricola macrops Predator All Stages Garcia and Protogino, 2005

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A review by Sickel (1986) lists 14 fish species, 13 duck species, raccoons, crayfish and flatworms are listed as natural predators. In a more recent survey in South America, García and Protogino (2005) recognize C. fluminea as a food source in eight fish species by clam’s presence in their guts.

Economic Impact

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In the USA, C.fluminea is considered a pest species (Counts, 1981; Isom, 1986) and has caused millions of dollars worth of damage to intake pipes used in the power and water industries. Large numbers, both dead or alive, clog water intake pipes and the cost of removing them is estimated at about a billion US dollars each year (Anon., 2005). Juvenile C. fluminea get carried by water currents into condensers of electrical generating facilities where they attach themselves to the walls via byssus threads, growing and ultimately obstructing the flow of water (Potter and Liden, 1986). Several nuclear reactors have had to be closed down temporarily in the USA for the removal of Corbicula from the cooling systems (Isom, 1986).

In Ohio and Tennessee where river beds are dredged for sand and gravel for use as aggregation material in cement, the high densities of C. fluminea have incorporated themselves in the cement, burrowing to the surface as the cement starts to set, weakening the structure (Sinclair and Isom, 1961). In the Delta-Mendota Canal, California, with a deficient design, the accumulation of sediment and Corbicula clams reduced the canal capacity (Arthur and Cederquist, 1976).

In South America fouling problems were first recorded in power plants in Brazil in 2000 (Zampatti and Darrigan, 2001). In Russia there are reports of biofouling problems in reservoirs by Corbicula sp. in numerous locations: southern Primorye, Sakhalin and Khabarovsk (Yanov and Rakov, 2002). Control methods in the power plant industry are reviewed by Post et al. (2006).

European populations of Asian clams have not until now caused any major economic impact in industrial facilities (Swinnen et al., 1998; Paunovic et al., 2007). However, measures need to be taken before situations arise. Bachmann et al. (1997) on the Mosel River, states “the structure and the dynamics of these populations must now be carefully observed, in order to prevent possible economic and ecosystem damages” and Strauss (1982) refers to a French design system that manages to exclude fouling bivalves from cooling units.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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In addition to the studies of Hedtke et al. (2008) it is suggested there should be a worldwide database for multiple androgenic lineages of Corbicula. Also it is recommended to create a phylogeny of Corbicula using single copy genes because of unexpected polyphyly in androgenic lineages. The rRNA genes are suggested by Hedtke et al. (2008) due to their conservative characteristics within the eukaryotes.


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Main Author
Uma Sabapathy Allen
Human Sciences, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8DE, UK