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Mollusk Musings

Some giant clams and octopuses can do well in a home reef aquarium.

By Scott W. Michael |

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The phylum Mollusca contains a diverse array of life forms, including animals as different as the clam and the giant squid. Other mollusks include the oysters, snails, nudibranchs and octopuses. This is one of the largest invertebrate phyla, containing over 10,000 described species (it is second only to the Arthropods). Although it may be difficult to see, members of this assemblage share some common characteristics. They have a muscular foot, a shell (composed of calcium) that is secreted by the mantle and a feeding organ called a radula. Although most of the mollusks possess all of these characteristics, some lack at least one of these (for example, not all mollusks have shells). There are many species available to aquarists, some of which serve a vital role in helping us keep algae under control or our sand beds stirred. In this article, we will look at two groups within this species-rich family of animals: the giant clams (class Bivalvia; genus Tridacna), which are coveted by reef aquarists, and the Einsteins of the mollusk clan, the octopuses (order Octopoda).

Want to read the full story? Pick up the December 2009 issue of Aquarium Fish International today.

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