Zebra Mussels and Marimo

Posted by Sacred Elements on

“Stop the hysteria, SAVE THE MARIMO!”

Every Marimo is quarantined, sanitized, cleaned and inspected before we add them to our shop

You may have heard the alarming news that an invasive, destructive species of freshwater mussels have been hitchhiking their way across the globe on Marimo. Zebra Mussels reproduce quickly and alter food webs by overconsumption of plankton. This in turn increases harmful algae overgrowth and also wreaks havoc in waterways, causing an imbalance to our ecosystem.

Sacred Elements developed our relationship with our trusted supplier of Marimo years ago specifically and intentionally because of their conservation practices and attention to detail. They are in alignment with our goal of protecting our natural resources. Our beloved Marimo have been Zebra Mussel free for many proactive reasons they put into place years ago that we wanted to share with you here.

Image Via Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program

From our supplier:

“Even though all of our incoming shipments are inspected and cleared by DFW/USDA, we quarantine and treat all marimo that arrive to us for a minimum of two weeks to eradicate any pests, including mussels. We are the only supplier of Marimo that does this as far as we know, and no customer will ever receive a live mussel of any kind from us in their Marimo. Part of the reason our quarantine process takes so long is that the treatments used could kill wanted invertebrates in the customer’s tank if any of the treatment remained within the Marimo, so we wash them out several times after the initial treatment to sanitize them of other life. Any mussels that might remain are only dead shells and not living mussels, as the shells do not dissolve quickly once the mussel dies. Even so, we are deeply sorry to hear the news that these shells have caused so much alarm, and we will continue to quarantine and monitor all marimo shipments that arrive to us. We also appreciate you taking environmental conservation seriously; Zebra Mussels are a scourge to freshwater waterways, and nearly impossible to remove once they become established.

The concern is very much valid here, but to fully understand, the reality is that the danger level is so low that it is nearly not an issue at all in this case. Zebra Mussels have been an issue since the 1980’s, this is not a new thing. Boats are where regulations have been imposed. It is far easier for the species to spread that way and is a legitimate concern.

Zebra mussels adults can survive out of water for about 7 days before death. Thankfully, due to our import process of marimo, it can take two weeks or more for them to arrive in the states. For this reason if any zebra mussels did hitchhike a ride, they would be dead on arrival because marimo are not shipped in water. This would be the case even before we begin our quarantine process. Our local FWS agent was very pleased with our operation, and quite frankly, a bit surprised with our substantial treatment process. We are told that we are the only importer known to be doing these extra treatments and processes after receiving. Marimo are legal to sell, however, at the request of DFW we have voluntarily paused sales temporarily so they can get a handle on the situation. We hope to have marimo back up very soon as our inventory is not affected by any live mussels and as such our inventory remains in our possession. There is something to be said for that!

That said, we have already performed these treatments and your current marimo are not a threat in any way. We are working closely with DFW and our supplier, it’s unfortunate that some, or maybe better said, most importers were not doing due diligence. Stop the hysteria, save the marimo! Anyone who takes a few minutes to understand what a zebra mussel needs to survive can understand that the environment we put marimo into in the aquatic hobby cannot sustain their lifecycle. As a test, I have personally kept marimo in full ocean levels of salt water for more than a month and the marimo survived.”

What you can do if you bought Marimo from someone other than Sacred Elements:

Zebra Mussels are an invertebrate. These are a freshwater species. They cannot survive in salt water, period. A 24 hour soak will kill them (including larvae) and any other freshwater livestock species. It’s just not even remotely possible at full ocean water salinity. Lower levels like brackish water will take longer, maybe 48 hours. If you currently keep Marimo like we do, as an aquatic plant, not in an aquarium with other creatures, here is what you can do to ease your mind. Again, if you have bought your Marimo from Sacred Elements, there is no need to do this step.

To create a salt water solution for your Marimo:

Add 7 teaspoons of our Marimo Salt or high quality aquarium salt to one liter cold water and mix until fully dissolved. Place Marimo in marine solution, out of any direct sunlight, and let sit for 24-36 hours. Remove and rinse under cold tap water for 10 seconds, squeezing gently and rolling between your hands before replacing them into spring, rain or tap water

For all our Marimo care tips head to our FAQ’s here

Our Marimo Salt we offer for ongoing Marimo maintenance. You can also use this to treat Marimo if you bought from another source.

In addition, our team here at Sacred Elements sorts through each and every Marimo we receive. We then clean them extensively, individually inspecting them for health and vibrance. After that process we care for them for many weeks to months in our small shop before carefully packaging and sending them out to you. That is why we tend to have wait times and preorder status on our website. We only send out healthy, thriving products so you can experience the wonder that is Marimo!


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