Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Fish & Game

Freshwater Mussels play key role for Bass 

Native freshwater mussels are good for bass? While you might not see an immediate connection, consider this: Where there are healthy beds of native freshwater mussels, there also are many benthic macroinvertebrates.

So, what are benthic macroinvertebrates?

Benthic macroinvertebrates are very small animals without backbones (invertebrates) that live in the river bottom on rocks, logs, sediment, debris and aquatic plants during some time in their life. These animals include crayfish, snails, worms, aquatic insects and the larvae of mayflies, damselflies and dragonflies.

How does that make them good for bass?

Bass like to eat them. Young bass feed on insects, crayfish and small fish that eat benthic macroinvertebrates. When they get bigger, they eat other fish, crayfish, frogs and salamanders. Bluegills are a favorite food, and what do bluegills eat? They eat aquatic insects and their larvae — benthic macroinvertebrates.

Freshwater mussels play an important role in aquatic ecosystems; their filter-feeding cleans the water of detritus and bacteria, helping provide a healthy habitat. They’re also an important food source for many aquatic and terrestrial animals.

Texas has more than 50 species of freshwater mussels; many can be found only in our state. Several Texas mussel species are protected under state or federal laws. Protecting the habitat of these important aquatic species also benefits the habitat quality for all other species living in that water body, including bass. Mussels are very sensitive to changes in their environment, such as siltation from construction sites, pollutants, river flow alterations and salinity, so they are great indicators of the quality of the habitat.

Learn more at the Texas Mussel Watch website, tpwd.texas.gov/mussels.

 Courtesy of USFW

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