The cold (or not so cold) winter months have given us time to get our freshwater mussel hatchery ready for the new propagating season.
Tanks and equipment are cleaned and sanitized. Equipment is built or repaired. Three brood stock tanks have been set up for the gravid female mussels (gravid means their eggs have been fertilized and they are carrying mussel larvae, known as glochidia). The host fish holding tank is filled and ready for new host fish.
In mid-March, our hatchery scientist will collect mommy mussels – eastern elliptio mussels – from the Delaware River, then bring them back to the Water Works to stock the brood tanks. Next, our scientist will collect brook trout (host fish for eastern elliptio). Both the mussels and their host fish need time to acclimate to their new environment in our lab, which will take a few weeks. In April, we plan to collect another mussel species – the alewife floater – and its host fish, the alewife herring.
April is also the month our scientist will start extracting the glochidia from the gravid females to start the propagation process.