Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database

Corbicula fluminea

Common name(s):
Asian Freshwater Clam
The Asian Freshwater Clam Corbicula fluminea is native to Asia, Indonesia, Philippines and probably Africa and Australia. It was introduced in western North America by Chinese immigrants as food before 1924. It is now found throughout the Pacific, Mississippi, Gulf, Great Lakes, and Atlantic drainages. Its rapid spread suggests that there were multiple introduction pathways and entry points including ballast water, canals, fisheries, and the aquarium fish-bait trades. It arrived in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the 1970s and is now very common in most freshwater tributaries. The introduction of such a rapidly reproducing filter-feeder has increased water clarity and provided a new food resource, but may also have far-reaching effects on food webs, nutrient and organic material transport to lower parts of the Bay, and on migratory birds and fish. In areas with high population densities they compete for food and space with native freshwater mussels.
Image courtesy of Image courtesy of United States Geological Survey, via Wikimedia Commons public domain license. .


Corbicula fluminea


Corbicula manilensis; Corbicula leana; Corbicula malaccensis; Tellina fluminea; Venus flumineus; Cyrena fluminea

Potentially Misidentified As:

Common Names:

Asiatic Clam


Synonymy - Corbicula fluminea (Asian Freshwater Clam) was described as Tellina by Muller (1774) and later referred to Venus by Chemnitz (1784); to Cyrena by Philippi (1849) and to Corbicula by Deshayes (1854). References are given by Morton (1986). The species name 'manilensis', given by Philippi in 1849, is widely used in older American literature. The correct nomenclature of Corbicula in the United States and Asia appears to be still a matter of dispute. Morton (1986) reviewed the status of the group in Asia and concluded that although 69 species had been described, only two were valid, C. fluminea (=manilensis) and C. fluminalis (=japonica). The latter is more tolerant of brackish water (to 70% seawater; ~ 25 ppt) (Morton and Tong 1985; Morton 1986). According to many authors, only C. fluminea has been introduced to North America (Counts 1986; Counts 1991; McMahon 1983). However, Corbicula in the United States has considerable variability in morphological and life history, which has caused people to suggest multiple introductions, and perhaps more than one species (Mcleod 1986; Hoagland 1986). Despite this variability, genetic studies indicate a very limited range of genetic variation (McMahon 1983). The limited extent of estuarine invasions in Atlantic drainages suggests that the introduced species here is probably C. fluminea.

This data was last modified on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013.
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