Golden Mussel is a freshwater mussel that has become invasive in temperate and sub-tropical parts of Asia and South America, where it appears to have impacts similar to those described for Zebra and Quagga Mussels. It shares attributes of other successful invasive species including rapid growth, short life span, adaptability to new environments, and high reproductive capacity. This species inhabits fresh and brackish waters in lakes, rivers, wetlands and bays with temperatures ranging from 8-35°C.
The Golden Mussel is native to China and southeastern Asia, although it has been introduced to Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and South America. It has not yet been found in North America. Potential pathways of introduction and spread for this species could include transportation by ballast water of ships, contamination of bait buckets, live wells, bilge water, aquarium plants or aquaculture products, and through attachment to boating, fishing and scuba gear.
Impacts of Golden Mussel
Like Zebra and Quagga Mussel, Golden Mussel attaches to available surfaces, forming dense colonies. This species also exhibits high filtration (feeding) rates, which cause negative environmental impacts by changing ecological conditions in colonized areas, for example, by reducing populations of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which form the base of aquatic food webs. The Golden Mussel can modify fish diets as well as the presence of native invertebrate species. It may compete with other species for habitat and food and disrupt the reproduction of native mussels. Like Zebra Mussels, their shells are sharp and due to dense colonization, they may cause injury, thereby restricting the use of beaches and other public water areas. Additionally, they can also damage infrastructure by fouling water intakes and cooling systems, which can be very expensive to clear and maintain.
How to Identify Golden Mussel
Larvae of Golden Mussels are microscopic making them invisible to the naked eye until they are grown. Adults can be identified by observing these key attributes:
- Average length of about 2-3 cm (approximately 1 inch), but can reach a length of 4.5 cm (approximately 2 inches)
- Shell is attached to substrate with byssal threads
- Left and right valves are slightly asymmetrical with a slightly curved to straight mid-ventral line (the line formed when the shell is closed)
- Outside of the shell is yellow-brown in colour
- Interior of the shell is white to purple
What You Can Do
- Learn how to identify Golden Mussel and how to prevent the introduction or spread of this unwanted species.
- Never buy or keep Golden Mussels. It is against the law to possess or use Golden Mussel for bait or other purposes.
- Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment after each use. Remove all plants, animals and mud before moving to a new water body.
- Drain water from the motor, live well, bilge and transom wells while on land.
- Clean all recreational equipment with a high pressure wash, hot water, OR let it dry in the sun for at least 5 days.
- If you have any information about the illegal importing, distribution or sale of Golden Mussel, report it immediately to the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free anytime. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
- If you’ve seen a Golden Mussel or other invasive species in the wild, please contact the toll-free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or visit EDDMapS Ontario to report a sighting.
OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2021). Golden Mussel. Retrieved from: www.invadingspecies.com.
This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.
Header photo by Boltovskoy, Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
Think you have seen an invasive species?
Invading Species Hotline