Learn about zebra mussels

Zebra mussels are small freshwater mollusks with a striped pattern on their shell. Read on to learn more about zebra mussels.


Zebra mussels are small freshwater mollusks that are about the size of a fingernail. They have a striped pattern on their shell, as seen below.

zebra mussel


Zebra mussel facts

  • Species name: Dreissena polymorpha
  • Native to Eastern Europe/Western Asia.
  • They can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as all kinds of hard surfaces.
  • Zebra mussels typically live 2-5 years in temperate climates, with water temperatures ranging from 32 - 90 °F.
  • Zebra mussels reach sexual maturity after 1 or 2 years, and one female can release up to one million eggs in a spawning season.
  • Natural populations of 5,000 to 30,000 individual mussels per square meter are not uncommon.
  • Zebra mussels are filter feeders, an adult can filter one quart of water per day.
  • They feed primarily on phytoplankton and zooplankton but also bacteria and detritus.
  • Zebra mussels spread within bodies of water and between bodies of water.

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