Corbicula fluminea (O. F. Müller, 1774)

Common Name: Asian clam

Synonyms and Other Names:

Asiatic clam, golden clam, good luck clam

* IMPORTANT NOTE* The taxonomy of Corbicula species needs further revision. Therefore until then, in this database unless otherwise named, all unidentified species of the genus Corbicula collected in the United States are compiled under one name, Corbicula fluminea.

Noel M. Burkhead - U.S. Geological SurveyCopyright Info

Identification: A small light-colored bivalve with shell ornamented by distinct, concentric sulcations, anterior and posterior lateral teeth with many fine serrations. Dark shell morphs exist but are limited to the southwestern United States. The light-colored shell morph has a yellow-green to light brown periostracum and white to light blue or light purple nacre while the darker shell morph has a dark olive green to black periostracum and deep royal blue nacre (McMahon 1991). Qiu et al. (2001) reported yellow and brown shell color morphs among specimens collected from Sichuan Province in China. The shells of the yellow morphs were straw yellow on the outside and white on the inside; those of brown morphs were dark brown and purple, respectively. Further analyses revealed that the yellow and brown morphs are triploid and tetraploid, respectively.

A separate clonal population of Corbicula has been reported for one location in the Illinois River (Tiemann et al 2017).  Tentatively named Form D, this newest form is pyramidal in shape with weakly elevated ridges; exterior is yellowish-brown with fine rust colored rays radiating out from the umbo; interior is creamy white but the lateral teeth are purple.  Form D has a distinctive nuclear ribosomal DNA genotype, but the mtDNA COI haplotype is identical to Form A.

Distinctive shell features differenetiating Corbicula species and hybrids have been described in Morhun et al. (2022).

Size: < 50 mm

Native Range: The genus Corbicula lives in temperate to tropical southern Asia west to the eastern Mediterranean; Africa, except in the Sahara desert; and southeast Asian islands south into central and eastern Australia (Morton 1986).

Great Lakes Nonindigenous Occurrences: Since the introduction of Corbicula fluminea to the United States in 1938, it has spread into many of the major waterways. The following location information briefly outlines where it is presently found. The [date: author publication date] format associated with each state identifies the first collection or record of C. fluminea in that state. The Asian clam has become established in the following states: Alabama [1962: Hubricht 1963] widespread (Counts 1991); Arizona [1958: Dundee and Dundee 1958] in the Aqua Fria, Colorado, Gila, Salt, and Verde rivers; Lake Martinez; and in several irrigation systems in Maricopa County (Counts 1991); Arkansas [1970: Fox 1970] widespread (Counts 1991) White River National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005); California [1945: Hanna 1966] in the Sacramento and San Joaquin drainages; Santa Barbara County south to San Diego County and west to the Salton Sea (Counts 1991) in San Francisco Bay (Ruiz et al. 2000); Colorado [1993: Nelson and McNabb 1994] in a Denver area reservoir; Connecticut [1990: Morgan, pers. comm.] in the Connecticut River; Delaware [1981: Counts 1991] in the Delaware River in New Castle County; the Nanticoke River in Sussex County; and the Nanticoke Wildlife Refuge (Counts 1991); District of Columbia [1979: Dressler and Cory 1980] in the Potomac River; Florida [1964: Heard 1964] widespread (Counts 1991, J. D. Williams pers. comm. 1996); Georgia [1971: Sickel 1973] widespread (Counts 1991); Hawai`i [1982: Devick 1991] on the islands of O`ahu, Kaua`i, Maui, and Hawai`i; Idaho [1959: Ingram 1959] in the Snake River on the Idaho-Washington state line; Illinois [1962: Fetchner 1962] in the Illinois River south to the state line (Counts 1991) and Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges (USFWS 2005); Indiana [1962: Fox 1969] in the White, lower Wabash, and Blue River drainages; Big Indian and Indian Creeks; and the Ohio River in Clark and Posey Counties (Counts 1991); Iowa [1974: Eckblad 1975] in the Mississippi River near Lansing; and the Cedar River in Linn County (Counts 1991); Kansas [1983: Mackie and Huggins 1983] in Perry Reservoir on the Delaware River; the Kansas River drainage; the North Fork of the Ninnescah River; Wilson Reservoir on the Saline River; and Cedar Bluff Reservoir on the Smoky Hill River (Counts 1991); Kentucky [1957: Sinclair and Isom 1961] widespread (Counts 1991); Louisiana [1961: Stein 1962] in the Pearl, Atchafalaya, Mississippi, and upper Red drainages (Counts 1991); Maryland [1975: Stotts et al. 1977] in the Choptank River near Goldsboro; Nassawango Creek near Snow Hill; the Susquehanna River below Conowingo Dam; the Wicomico River at Salisbury; the Potomac River in Charles, Prince Georges, and Montgomery counties; Chesapeake Bay at Havre-de-Grace, and near the mouth of the Susquehanna River (Counts 1991) throughout Chesapeake Bay (Ruiz et al. 2000); Michigan [1981: Clarke 1981] in Lake Michigan at the J. H. Campbell Power Plant; and Lake Erie at Detroit Beach, Sterling State Park and Bolles Harbor (Counts 1991); Minnesota [1975: Cummings and Jones 1978] in the Minnesota River near Burnsville and St. Croix River (Karns 2004); Mississippi [1963: Heard 1966] widespread (Counts 1991); Missouri [1969: Fox 1969] in the lower Missouri River drainage south to the state line; Nebraska [1991: Peyton and Maher 1995] in the Platte River in Lincoln and Dawson Counties; Nevada [1959: Ingram 1959] in Lake Meade (Counts 1991); New Hampshire in the Merrimack River in 2012 (A. Smagula, pers. comm.); New Jersey [1973: Fuller and Powell 1973] in the Raritan River in Middlesex and Somerset Counties; and the Delaware River near Newbold Island, Wright Point, and Trenton (Counts 1991); New Mexico [1966: Metcalf 1966] in Nemexas-West Drain in Dona Ana Co.; the Pecos River impoundment at Riverside Drive in Carlsbad; and the Rio Grande River from Caballo and Elephant Butte reservoirs, south to Percha Dam (Counts 1991); New York [1983: Raeihle 1983] in Massapequa Lake on Long Island; North Carolina [1970: Fox 1971] in the Cape Fear, Catawba, Chowan, Eden, Little, Meherrin, Neuse, Roanoke, Rocky, Tar, Uhwarrie, and Waccamaw rivers; and Buckhorn and Richardson creeks (Counts 1991); Ohio [1962: Pojeta 1964] in the Muskingum, upper Scioto, and upper Great Miami drainages; and the lower Hocking River (Counts 1991); Oklahoma [1969: Clench 1971] in the Arkansas River from Cherokee to Wagoner Counties; the Little River near Goodwater; Lake Texoma on the Red River; Lake Overholser; Lake Thunderbird; and Caddo Creek in Carter County (Counts 1991) and Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005); Oregon [1948: Ingram 1948] in the Columbia drainage; the John Day River; the Smith River near Scottsburg; and at the mouth of the Siuslaw and Willamette rivers (Counts 1991) and Coos Bay (Ruiz et al. 2000); Pennsylvania [1973: Fuller and Powell 1973] in the Ohio and Delaware rivers; the Beaver River in Beaver County; the Monongahela River at Lock and Dam Number 8; and the Schuykill River at the Limerick Power Station and Fairmount Dam (Counts 1991); Rhode Island [1999: E. Herron, personal communication] in Tiogue Lake, just SW of West Warwick; Pawtuxet River at Tiogue Lake drainage in 2005; Worden Pond in Kingston in 2007; and Pocasset Pond in Johnston in 2010 (R. Hartenstine 2010, personal communicaton); South Carolina [1972: Fuller and Powell 1973] in the Savannah, Cooper, Santee, Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Edisto, Waccamaw, and Salkahatchie rivers; the intracoastal waterway; and several industrial facilities in Aiken and Pickens counties (Counts 1991); Tennessee [1959: Sinclair and Isom 1961] in the Tennessee drainage (Counts 1991) in Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005); Texas [1964: Metcalf 1966] in the Angelina, Colorado, Rio Grande, Guadalupe, San Antonio, San Jacinto, Sabine, Red, White, and Brazos drainages; the Clear and West Forks of the Trinity River (Counts 1991); Utah [1978: Counts 1985] in Sevier Reservoir; Virginia [1968: Diaz 1974] in the Appomattox, Clinch, Potomac, James, and New rivers; Lake Anna; the Chowan River at the mouths of the the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers; and the Chickahominy River at Lanexa; (Counts 1991); Washington [1938: Burch 1944] in the Columbia, Snake, Chehalis, and Willapa rivers; Hood Canal in Jefferson County; and Aberdeen Lake in Grays Harbor Lake County (Counts 1986, 1991); West Virginia [1964: Thomas and MacKenthum 1964] in the Elk and Kanawha drainages (Counts 1991) and Ohio River Island National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2005); Wisconsin [1977: Cummings and Jones 1978] in the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien and La Crosse; and the St. Croix River near Hudson (Counts 1991, Karns 2004). In 2011, dead specimens were found at several locations along the Laramie River in southeastern Wyoming (2011: B. Bear, personal communication).

Table 1. Great Lakes region nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state/province, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Corbicula fluminea are found here.

Full list of USGS occurrences

State/ProvinceFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
IL199820172Little Calumet-Galien; Pike-Root
IN199520173Lake Michigan; Little Calumet-Galien; St. Joseph
MI1980202122Black-Macatawa; Clinton; Detroit; Flint; Huron; Kalamazoo; Lake Erie; Lake Michigan; Lake Superior; Lower Grand; Manistee; Maple; Muskegon; Ottawa-Stony; Raisin; Shiawassee; St. Clair; St. Joseph; Thornapple; Tiffin; Tittabawassee; Upper Grand
MN199920132Lake Superior; St. Louis
NY199820206Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Champlain; Lake Erie; Niagara River; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Seneca
OH198120096Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Lake Erie; Lower Maumee; Sandusky; St. Joseph
VT201620161Mettawee River
WI199920175Lake Michigan; Lower Fox; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Wolf

Table last updated 9/26/2022

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for areas where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: The Asian clam is a filter feeder that removes particles from the water column. It can be found at the sediment surface or slightly buried. Its ability to reproduce rapidly, coupled with low tolerance of cold temperatures (2-30°C), can produce wild swings in population sizes from year to year in northern water bodies. Both yellow and brown morphs are simultaneous hermaphrodites and brood their larvae in the inner demibranchs (Qiu et al. 2001). Furthermore, C. fluminea is able to reproduce by self-fertilization at different ploidy levels, and is capable of androgenesis, a type of male quasi-sexual male reproduction (Hsu et al. 2020). The life span is about one to seven years.

Means of Introduction: The first collection of C. fluminea in the United States occurred in 1938 along the banks of the Columbia River near Knappton, Washington (Counts 1986). Since this first introduction, it is now found in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Corbicula fluminea was thought to enter the United States as a food item used by Chinese immigrants (Hanna 1966) but there is no direct evidence of that. Alternatively, it may have come in with the importation of the Giant Pacific oyster also from the Asia. The mechanism for dispersal within North America is unknown. It is known mostly as a biofouler of many electrical and nuclear power plants across the country. As water is drawn from rivers, streams, and reservoirs for cooling purposes so are Corbicula larvae. Once inside the plant, this mussel can clog condenser tubes, raw service water pipes, and firefighting equipment. Economic problems can result from the decreased efficiency of energy generation. Warm water effluents at these power plants make a hospitable environment for stabilizing populations. With man demonstrated to be the primary agent of dispersal, no large-scale geographic features function as dispersal barriers (Counts 1986, Isom 1986). Current methods of introduction include bait bucket introductions (Counts 1986), accidental introductions associated with imported aquaculture species (Counts 1986), and intentional introductions by people who buy them as a food item in markets (Devick 1991). The only other significant dispersal agent is thought to be passive movement via water currents (Isom 1986); fish and birds are not considered to be significant distribution vectors (Counts 1986, Isom 1986). Migrating blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) had shown the potential to pass live adults through their gut when the mussel was consumed and digested in cooler water (<21.1º C) (Gatlin et al. 2013).

Status: Corbicula fluminea is established in river networks across many states as well as in Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior (USEPA 2008).

Great Lakes Impacts:  

Corbicula fluminea has a moderate environmental impact in the Great Lakes.

In the Great Lakes, C. fluminea may be restricted to southern areas or near outputs of heated effluent due to intolerance of colder temperatures (Mills et al. 1993, Trebitz et al. 2010), potentially reducing their ecological impact. Elsewhere in the U.S., C. fluminea is capable of altering benthic substrates (Sickel 1986) and limiting resource availability for native species (Devick 1991, see below).

Cohen et al. (1984) documented a reduction in phytoplankton abundance by 40-60% in a roughly 7 km stretch of the Potomac River, MD, relative to upstream and downstream segments. This was likely due to the very high densities of C. fluminea in this stretch (an increase from 1.2 clams/m2 in 1977 to 1,467 clams/m2 in 1981) and the high filter feeding rates that were observed (Cohen et al. 1984). Following the introduction of C. fluminea to the Potomac River Estuary, a series of ecosystem-level changes appeared to occur, including increased water clarity followed by growth of fish, bird, and submerged aquatic plant populations, all of which evidently reversed with the decline of C. fluminea populations (Phelps 1994). These observations suggest that C. fluminea is capable of having far-reaching effects on invaded ecosystems.

Corbicula fluminea may filter a wider range of food sources at a faster rate than native fresh water mussels, which could decrease food availability for other benthic and pelagic species (Atkinson et al. 2010, Strayer et al. 1999, Vaughn and Hakencamp 2001). For instance, results by Silverman et al. (1997) found that C. fluminea are capable of filter-feeding E. coli and other bacteria at a higher rate than some native unionid mussels. A number of experiments analyzing the impact of C. fluminea on native bivalves have documented conflicting results, from competitive exclusion to coexistence (see Sousa et al. 2005, Strayer 1999). It is possible that C. fluminea could impact other pelagic and benthic species through its feeding behavior, but direct evidence is greatly lacking (Karatayev et al. 2005, McMahon 2000).

Corbicula fluminea has the potential to alter nutrient cycles in invaded systems. Microcosm experiments suggest that this clam can increase sediment oxygen uptake, as well as the release of soluble reactive phosphorus, ammonium, and nitrate (Zhang et al. 2011). Due to its ability to both filter feed and pedal feed, it can alter the abundance of organic matter in the sediment depending on its primary source of food at a given time (Hakencamp and Palmer 1999). It also has a relatively rapid growth and turnover rate, which can increase its influence on energy and nutrient flows in aquatic ecosystems (Sousa et al. 2008). Furthermore, higher levels of nitrogen, ammonia (NH3), and orthophosphate (PO4) in feces and pseudofeces, as well as the chemical releases following C. fluminea summer die-offs, could alter nutrient cycling in freshwater systems (Atkinson et al. 2010, Lauritsen and Mozley 1989). High mortality of C. fluminea is a common occurrence in the summer months, although the mechanism is unknown (Vohmann et al. 2010).

Corbicula fluminea has a moderate socio-economic impact in the Great Lakes.

One of the most prominent effects of the introduction of the Asian clam into the United States has been the biofouling of complex power plant and industrial water systems (Isom et al. 1986, McMahon 2000, Williams and McMahon 1986). It has also been documented to cause problems in irrigation canals and pipes (Devick 1991, Prokopovich and Hebert 1965), as well as in drinking water supplies (Smith et al. 1979). Large numbers of C. fluminea, dead and alive, clog water intake pipes, and the cost of removing them has been estimated at about a billion dollars each year in the United States (Pimentel et al. 2000). Juvenile C. fluminea get carried by water currents into condensers of electricity generating facilities, where they attach themselves to the walls via byssus threads, growing and ultimately obstructing the flow of water. They can also increase sedimentation rates within pipes and canals (McMahon 2000). Several nuclear reactors have had to be closed down temporarily in the United States for the removal of Corbicula from the cooling systems (Isom 1986). Isom (1986) has reviewed the invasion of C. fluminea of the Americas and the biofouling of its waters and industries.

In Ohio and Tennessee where river beds are dredged for sand and gravel for use as aggregation material in cement, high densities of C. fluminea have incorporated themselves in the cement, burrowing to the surface as the cement starts to set and weakening its structure (Sinclair and Isom 1961).

Current research on the beneficial effect of Corbicula fluminea in the Great Lakes is inadequate to support proper assessment.

Corbicula fluminea is consumed mainly by fish and crayfish. An account of the species that prey on C. fluminea in the United States is given by McMahon (1983). Garcia and Protogino (2005) describe the diet of some native fish species from Argentina (Rio de la Plata) previously not known to feed on C. fluminea. After C. fluminata became established, several of these fish species modified their diet to feed on C. fluminea and other molluscan invaders.

The presence of C. fluminea shells in otherwise soft substrate has been correlated with an increase in arthropod and mayfly (Caenis spp.) densities (Karatayev et al. 2005, Werner and Rothhaupt 2007, 2008). In one experiment, the effect of the presence of three types of C. fluminea (fed individuals, starved individuals, and shells) on ten other species of invertebrates was tested, and the authors found that no species avoided live individuals or shells of C. fluminea when choosing a substrate (Werner and Rothhaupt 2008). Most taxa preferred sand habitat with C. fluminea shells, supporting the hypothesis that these shells add structural heterogeneity that is conducive to macroinvertebrate biodiversity (Werner and Rothhaupt 2008). Those benthic invertebrates that showed a preference for substrate with living C. fluminea, particularly gastropods, appeared to take advantage of the pseudofeces produced by C. fluminea as a food source (Werner and Rothhaupt 2008).

While not currently applied in the Great Lakes, Corbicula spp. has the potential to serve as a bioindicator for organochloride pesticides in the environment (Takabe et al. 2011).


Regulations (pertaining to the Great Lakes region)
Corbicula fluminea is a prohibited species in Wisconsin (NR40.04: Prohibited).  In Indiana an individual may not import, possess or release Asiatic clams (312 IAC 9-9-3; IC 14-22-17-3).

Note: Check federal, state/provincial, and local regulations for the most up-to-date information.

Eradication of Asian clams from infested open waters is unlikely – emphasis is generally on preventing further spread.

There are no known biological control methods for this species.

Screens and traps are commonly employed to prevent Corbicula colonization of water intakes (GISD, 2013). 

Diver assisted suction removal and bottom barriers are being researched as potential methods for physical control of Corbicula populations in Lake Tahoe (UC Davis TERC, 2004).  Benthic barriers have been demonstrated to be effective for short-term control of Corbicula fluminea, but non-target mortality to other benthic invertebrates may be high (Wittmann et al, 2012).

A wide array of chemical molluscicides are available, but are not species-specific and may harm native species to a greater extent than non-natives. 

Molluscicides are typically classified as either oxidizing or non-oxidizing compounds. Oxidizing chemicals include chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chloramines, ozone, bromine, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium permanganate. Non-oxidizing chemicals (including organic film-forming antifouling compounds, gill membrane toxins, and nonorganics) can be classified into several distinct groups: quanternary and polyquaternary ammonium compounds; aromatic hydrocarbons; endothall as the mono (N,N-dimethylalkyl amine) salt; metals and their salts (e.g., copper sulfate formulations); and niclosamide (including some formulations of Bayluscide). Bayluscide was initially developed as a sea lamprey larvicide, but has molluscicidal activity.  While some of these products are biodegradable, many require detoxification or deactivation to meet state and Federal discharge requirements (USACE 2012).

Low concentration of chlorine or bromine will kill juvenile asian clams (GISD, 2013). 

Corbicula is not tolerant of fluctuating environmental conditions (particularly temperature and oxygen) and is prone to massive die-offs (Menninger, 2013), this suggests that short-term chemical manipulation may be useful in controlling Corbicula populations.  Corbicula fluminea may be controlled at intake pipes by heating influent water to 37oC (GISD, 2013). 

Note: Check state/provincial and local regulations for the most up-to-date information regarding permits for control methods. Follow all label instructions.

Remarks: Factors that may affect population density and distribution of Asian clams include excessively high or low temperatures, salinity, drying, low pH, silt, hypoxia, pollution, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, inter- and intraspecific competition, predators, and genetic changes (Evans et al. 1979, Sickel 1986). This clam has been found in the stomachs of black buffalo - Ictiobus niger (Minckley 1973); carp - Cyprinus carpio, channel catfish - Ictalurus punctatus, yellow bullhead - Ameiurus natalis, redear sunfish - Lepomis microlophus, largemouth bass - Micropterus salmoides, Mozambique tilapia - Tilapia mossambica (Minckley 1982); blue catfish - Ictalurus furcatus (M. Moser pers. comm. 1996; Gatlin et al. 2013); and spotted catfish - Ameiurus serracanthus (A. Foster pers. comm. 1996). Other predators of Corbicula include birds, raccoons, crayfish, and flatworms (Sickel 1986). Densities of C. fluminea have also been documented to occur by the thousands per square meter, often dominating the benthic community (Sickel 1986).

Though there is considerable morphological variation in C. fluminea, one study showed that it is possible to identify genotypes in populations based on internal shell color (Hsu et al. 2020).

References: (click for full references)

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Other Resources:
USGS/NAS Technical Species Profile


Corbicula fluminea (Global Invasive Species Database)

Great Lakes Waterlife


Author: Foster, A.M., Fuller, P., Benson, A., Constant, S., Raikow, D., Larson, J., and Fusaro, A.

Contributing Agencies:

Revision Date: 4/28/2022

Citation for this information:
Foster, A.M., Fuller, P., Benson, A., Constant, S., Raikow, D., Larson, J., and Fusaro, A., 2022, Corbicula fluminea (O. F. Müller, 1774): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI,, Revision Date: 4/28/2022, Access Date: 9/27/2022

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.