Quagga Mussel

(Dreissena bugensis)

Quagga mussels were first found in Lake Erie in 1989, then spread to and throughout Lake Michigan. Now well established in lower Great Lakes, quaggas can be found throughout the system and surrounding riverways. Quagga mussels seem to be following a similar trend to zebra mussels in first years after the initial introduction. Since quaggas can live in a range of substrates, water conditions and at great depths with the ability to reproduce rapidly, they have the potential to have similar impacts to that of zebra mussels.

Other names for this animal 

  • Common names: Quagga mussel
  • Scientific names: Dreissena bugensis

Ecological threat

Quagga mussels are extreme water/food filters. They eat up the food source of fish and can drastically change an aquatic ecosystem. They also take in lots of pollutants (at levels higher than the surrounding area), which can harm wildlife that eat the mussel. Some researchers believe that Lake Erie's dead zone may be caused by their non-stop feeding along with their ability to live in deep water (up to 130 meters in the Great Lakes) and the excretion of phosphorous with their waste. The quagga mussels, like zebra mussels, also clog water intake pipes and underwater screens. This plugs up pumps at power and water treatment plants which costs government and businesses millions each year to fix. In addition, quagga mussels build up in places that may hinder summer fun - piers, breakwalls, buoys, boats and beaches.

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