The Northern Riffleshell's
outer surface is brown to yellow-green in color. The inside is white
but sometimes pink. It can have a shell up to 3 inches long.
The food habits and reproductive habits are unknown, but they are probably similar to those of other freshwater mussels. They probably feed on organic particles, algae, and minute plants and animals which they siphon out of the water. During feeding and respiration, females take in the sperm that has been released into the water by males. The fertilized eggs remain in the gills until the larvae develop. When the larvae are released into the water, they attach and form cysts on the gills or fins of a fish host. The species of fish host used by this mussel is unknown. After they form their shell, they drop to the riverbed.
Reason for the species decline in population:
The Northern Riffleshell is endangered because of impoundments, digging channels in the rivers, silt build-up in the streams from poor land use. Also, water pollution from cities, chemical plants, run-off from coal mines, and reservoir releases have also destroyed the Riffleshell. A real threat to the Northern Riffleshell is the Zebra Mussel. They attach themselves to the Riffleshell and kill it. The Zebra Mussel is a threat to the Northern Riffleshells found in the Ohio River.
To save the Fanshell, the State and
Federal laws must be enforced. Some of the habitats need to be restored.
Research is needed to determine the required habitat and the fish hosts.