Have you ever wondered what's inside a clam shell?
Dissect this plain preserved freshwater clam specimen to find out! You may know that shiny pearls can sometimes be found inside of a freshwater mussel or clam shell, but have you ever explored the complex and fascinating parts inside that make up a living being? Whether at home or in a classroom, clam dissections are an excellent hands-on learning activity for students.
The genus of this freshwater clam dissection specimen is typically Anodonta.
More About Clams
Clams are far different from saltwater or freshwater fish species. A clam is generally considered any invertebrate within the class Bivalvia - consisting of mollusks that have a shell with two separate sections. These shells are made of layers of calcium carbonate. Most bivalves are saltwater creatures, but there are hundreds of freshwater bivalves as well - including this freshwater clam dissection specimen. To protect themselves, clams burrow down into the fine substrate (mud, sand, sediment, etc.) of their habitats.
Freshwater clams are efficient filter feeders, meaning that they essentially eat through a filtration process. They lack biting mouthparts, so in order to get enough food, tiny cilia on their gills trap particles of food (like phytoplankton) and waste/debris (detritus) from the water and move them down to their mouth. These food particles are brought to their gills by a siphon or tube-like structure. Filter feeders help maintain water quality and nitrate levels in their ecosystems - whether they live in saltwater aquariums, freshwater aquariums, or in more natural habitats. As they eat, they remove excess nitrogen from the water (more specifically from the water columns, in the case of aquarium water/tank water) that becomes part of their shells and tissue as they develop and grow.
Learn more about freshwater clams through a hands-on clam dissection! Using preserved dead clam specimens, students gain memorable insight into the anatomy and functions of a very interesting species.
Note: Specimens are initially preserved with a formaldehyde solution, the best animal tissue fixative. The formaldehyde is then displaced first with water and finally with a glycol solution to produce a moist, low-fume specimen which will not decay over time.
HST Specimen Guarantee
In sealed, original packaging, our preserved specimens are guaranteed to remain fully preserved and free of decay for 12 months from the date of purchase.
Once the original package is opened, use specimen within one month. For best results, observe the following storage procedures:
- Store specimen in heavy-duty, zip-lock bags to minimize drying between dissections.
- Specimen will slowly dry out or become contaminated in zip-lock bags; add a teaspoon of Specimen Holding Fluid to retain moisture.
- Freezing or refrigeration is not necessary and may damage fragile tissues.