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Corbicula fluminea Müller, 1774

Diagnostic features

This species and the similar Corbicula fluminalis are invasive species in Europe and North America. It differs from Corbicula australis in having a thicker, more triangular shell, with heavier concentric ribs. As with some forms of C. australis, the shells are usually purple on the inside.


Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774)

Common name: Asiatic Clam, Golden Clam

Class Bivalvia

Subclass Heteroconchia

Superorder Heterodonta

Order Cardiida

Superfamily Cyrenoidea

Family Cyrenidae

Genus Corbicula Mühlfeldt, 1811

Original name: Tellina fluminea Müller, 1774. Müller, O.F.,1774. Vermium terrestrium et fluviatilium,seu animalium infusoriorum,helminthicorum,et testaceorum, non marinorum succincta historia: 1 - 214 (Havniae et Lipsiae).

Type locality: China.

Synonyms: Corbiculina maroubra Iredale,1943 (based on Australian occurrence of fluminea); C. manilensis (Philippi,1841); C. leana Prime,1864 and many other synonyms.

State of taxonomy

This species has been the subject of numerous investigations, with species limits difficult to define.

Biology and ecology

Shallow burrower in rivers, lakes, dams, irrigation channels and other water courses.Sometimes a major pest as a clogging and contamination agent in water/irrigation/cooling systems in other countries.The biology of this species has been extensively studied by Sinclair (1961,1963); Britten and Morton,1979,1983,1986,1987). Like other cyrenids, it is a suspension feeder and the larvae are brooded.


A few records of what appear to be this species from the New South Wales central and lower north coast, but all (to our knowledge) based on dead shells (see Notes). Thus, it has apparently not been established in Australia to date.

The natural distribution is from Russia and Japan in the north, to Indonesia in the south and from Africa in the west to the Philippines in the east. It has been introduced into the Americas and Europe, where it is a pest.


Known from water supply pipes in Newcastle and Kempsey (single valves); Catherine Hill Bay (a coal loader is located at the southern end of the bay) and from the southern end of Maroubra beach. Apparently the species has not successfully colonised in Australia - possibly because of the presence of native Corbicula, although it may have been transported to Australia on occassion, perhaps in ballast water of ships.

Further reading

Araujo, R., Moreno, D. & Ramos, M. A. (1993). The Asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774) (Bivalvia: Corbiculidae) in Europe. American Malacological Bulletin 10: 39-49.

Bij de Vaate, A. & Greijdanus - Klaas, M. (1990). The Asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea (Muller,1774) (Pelecypoda,Corbiculidae), a new immigrant in the Netherlands. Zoologische Museum Bulletin, Universiteit van Amsterdam 12: 173-177.

Britton, J. C. & Morton, B. (1982). A dissection guide , field and laboratory manual for the introduced bivalve Corbicula fluminea. Malacological Review Supplement 3: ??

Britton, J. C. & Morton, B. (1986). Polymorphism in Corbicula fluminea bivalvia corbiculoidea from North America. Malacological Review 19: 1-44.

Counts, C. L. (1991). Corbicula (Bivalvia:Corbiculidae). Parts 1 & 2. Tryonia, Miscellaneous publications of the Department of Malacology, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 21: 1-134.

Morton, B. & Tong, K. Y. (1985). The salinity tolerance of Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia:Corbiculoidea) from Hong Kong. Malacological Review 18: 91-96.

Morton, B. (1987). Polymorphism in Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia: Corbiculoidea) from Hong Kong Malacological Review 20: 105-128.

Ng, T.H., Tan, S.K., Wong, W.H., Meier, R., Chan, S-Y., Tan, H.H. and Yeo, D.C.J. 2016. Molluscs for Sale: Assessment of Freshwater Gastropods and Bivalves in the Ornamental Pet Trade. PLOS One. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0161130.

Sinclair , R. M. & Isom, B. G. (1961). A Preliminary Report on the Introduced Asiatic Clam Corbicula in Tennessee.Tennessee Stream pollution control board. Tennessee Department of Public Health.

Sinclair, R. M. & Isom, B. J. (1963). Further Studies on the Introduced Asiatic Clam (Corbicula) in Tennessee.Tennessee stream pollution control board. Tennessee Department of Public Health.