Freshwater clams.

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Hill Dweller
Sep 17, 2003
I was walking the dog around a reservoir, I know well. [my entire life] in a very nice broadleaf woodland.

Had my shades on, and thought at first that some kids or something had smashed a load of fancy dinner plates into small pieces on the path. They had that mother of pearl look.

Bit further on, I realised they were doing some work, had drained about a metre of the reservoir, and they were literally hundreds of smashed shells of freshwater clams, or molluscs, scattered around the edges of the path. Some had obvious beakholes in them, and the crows had been feeding on them.

Looked identical to this. Never seen them before.

How do you prepare them,and are they tasty?

Do I have to put them in freshwater, and sprinkle oatmeal in the water, then leave for a couple of days? to filter out the crap?
Ive seen them do that with sea clams, then just put them on the embers of a fire to open?
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Hill Dweller
Sep 17, 2003
Right I was beggining to wonder whether i should email the local council, and ask them to send a biologist check if they were protected? I mean they must have been at least ten years old. And it seems they are on the decline?
and there were literally hundreds of them.
What do you think?


Anyone for sailing?
Mar 5, 2008
~Hemel Hempstead~
Swan mussels are common and aren't protected as far as I know and tend to live in still or slow moving water hence the issues with water quality

Freshwater pearl mussels are protected but live in fast flowing water.

More info here
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Dec 6, 2013
Years ago they were described as 'A famine Food' .........basically if needs must then they were eaten but it tended to be a necessity thing. One big problem is they are out and out filter feeders, they are very long lived (if allowed to be) and pollutants from quite a number of years ago 'can sometimes' be found in their flesh, it's not just a case of purging their stomach so to speak. Compared to some of my wife's culinary delights they would probably be ok but in truth that really isn't saying much.


Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
. . . "famine food". . . .. sums up my western Canadian experiences. FW clams seem to be distributed
all across western Canada, both sides of the Rockies but which species we may have, no idea.
Always just as tough as an old boot (baked, fried, deep fried, steamed or BBQ grilled.)
Major disappointment as marine clams and oysters are delicate by comparison.

If you can ID ones not on your protected lists, the shells might make useful paleo oil lamps.


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Do not eat them. As they are filter feeders they ingest large amounts of toxins and heavy metals which will be stored in the flesh. Even if the water quality is excellent now, it could have been polluted last year.

Ask yourself, would you drink the water they live in ?

In an emergency of course I would eat them, but only then.


Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
Avoid filter feeders, especially river ones. Not only do they taste horrible muddy, I don't think they're too good for you. Their job is cleaning water, it's akin to eating soiled loo roll with a tiny bit of protein. Emergency only.

If you must, and I don't, eat clams and mussels from the sea where there's more movement of water.

And river Crays taste awful too. Mud flavour prawn.
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Hill Dweller
Sep 17, 2003
I have a mate in the enviroment agency, I fish with. I might call him, and go down with him, and he can tell me if they are compressed clamd or swan clams. If the company who have drained the reservoir by two metres to carry out the work, have exposed the molluscs 'bed' and they are the compressed clams, they are a highly endangered species according to the web, so i guess the EA wont be too pleased at seeing hundreds of them on the pavement, eaten by the local wildlife.