Zebra Mussels vs. Quagga Mussels

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Among the most detrimental aquatic invasive species are zebra mussels and Quagga mussels.

The zebra mussel is named for its distinctive brown stripes. The species is a native of Europe. It first appeared in North America in the 1990s and quickly established itself in several major lakes and reservoirs.

The Quagga mussel, originally from Russia, also established populations in North America during the mid-1990s. The Quagga mussel is slightly larger than the zebra, its impact on lakes is the same. Although both species invaded the Grate Lakes region, the Quagga eventually dominated because they can live in deeper, colder water.

Zebra and Quagga mussels are eaten by ducks and other aquatic life. Fish that feed on mussels include common carp, redear sunfish, gobies, and other species. Although predation may reduce the number of zebra mussels in a limited area, it is not effective in eradicating mussels from a lake.

Both zebra and Quagga mussels feed by filtering plant plankton from the water, which increases water clarity in lakes. Because if the increased water clarity, aquatic plants often grow in deeper areas. As they feed, mussels deposit waste on the bottom, which in turn, helps sustain bottom-dwelling worms, scuds, insect nymphs and larvae.