Zebra Mussel Myths

Four Zebra Mussel Myths and Where They Went Wrong

Like all fearsome creatures, zebra mussels come with their own set of myths. These are the stories we tell ourselves about zebra mussels, usually in preparation to battle them. They are not necessarily false stories, but they are not always true, either. Knowing the difference is critical to developing efficient and cost-effective zebra mussel management strategies.

Zebra Mussel Myth #1: Zebra Mussels Cannot be Eradicated

A growing body of evidence suggests that effective control and even complete eradication of invasive mussels is both feasible and cost-effective under certain conditions. The size of the lake and the extent of the infestation are key factors.

Zebra Mussel Myth #2: Zebra Mussels Must Be Eradicated

Once zebra mussels or quagga mussels are widely distributed throughout a large lake, there is little hope for eradication with currently available methods. In these cases, it is important to let go of the myth that invasive mussels must be eradicated. This myth feeds a common, but mistaken, perception that control measures are costly and futile once invasive mussels are firmly established.

Zebra Mussel Myth #3: Zebra Mussel Control Systems Should Be Engineered

Good engineering is absolutely vital for the smooth operation of any water treatment plant or power generation facility, but time and zebra mussels wait for no one — not even engineers. Developing and installing new technologies takes time — sometimes years. Without immediate control measures in place, zebra mussels have that much more time to wreak havoc.

Zebra Mussel Myth #4: Copper Kills Fish

Copper is toxic to fish at high concentrations. That much is true. But copper is also a natural element that is approved for use in drinking water. When used efficiently, at concentrations well below the minimum for drinking water, it is not a threat to fish or to the larger ecosystem.