Saltwater Clams In Reef Tanks

Clams really are a stunning view in a reef aquarium. I enjoy watching clams open and close and just the sheer beauty they add to the overall reef aquascape.

Saltwater clams are a very popular addition but most people fail to keep even the hardiest of all saltwater clams.

In this article we are going to cover the easiest clams to keep in your reef tank and their care facts.

Are Saltwater Clams Easy/Hard To Keep

Clams can be difficult to keep but if you have a stable and aged reef tank then you will probably have success keeping any clam that catches your eye.

Clams should be added when your tank is mature and it is best to have your reef aquarium seeded with live foods such as tiger pods or tisbe pods. This will add to the success of keeping a live clam in your reef.

Some clams need strong lighting as they are photosynthetic which means they require light for energy. They also feed on live foods and fish waste.

Water Parameters for Saltwater Clams

Clams require stable water parameters and a very healthy reef tank to be happy and thrive. Below are the water parameter requirements for keeping saltwater clams.

Water ParameterAmount
Salinity1.023 – 1.025
Alkalinity9 – 12 dKH
Calcium380 – 450
pH8.1 – 8.3
Nitrate2 – 20 PPM
Strontium6 – 10 PPM
Iodine.04 – .08 PPM

Water parameters to keep a healthy saltwater clam.

Salinity: 1.023 – 1.025

Alkalinity: 9 to 12 dKH

Calcium: 380 to 450

pH: 8.1 to 8.3

Nitrate: 2 to 20 PPM

Strontium: 6 to 10 PPM

Iodine: 0.04 to 0.08 PPM

Stable Water Parameters

The best way to keep the water quality stable is to use a high-quality dosing pump (Amazon Link) to keep your levels stable and through water changes. Stability is the key to a successful reef tank so it would make sense to keep your water parameters as stable as possible. Some nitrate is required or your clam will starve.

If you find yourself out of range in any of these parameters don’t stress. I often find myself out of these numbers especially alkalinity and calcium which I have to chase a little as growth and uptake demand increases. Just bring your levels up slowly over a period of days or even weeks and you should be good.

Easiest Clams To Keep

There are always hard to keep coral, fish or inverts but if you keep stable water parameters this shouldn’t be an issue. Some livestock are marked as expert due to the fact they require stability and extra handling. These are probably the best to stay away from.

Here is a list of the best clams for a reef tank:

Derasa Clam

Derasa clam under beautiful blue reef lights really showing off the colors nicely. Image Source: No Coast Aquatics

Derasa clams are known as the hardiest and largest clams in a reef tank. These clams require less lighting and aren’t as picky about water quality.

To get the best coloration and growth be sure to dose phytoplankton and seed your aquarium with copepods. This will give your aquarium life the best possible chance at captive living.

Derasa clams grow fast so be sure to have ample space available for adequate growth. A great par range is 250 to 450 but be on the higher side to make sure that your Derasa clam is happy.

Squamosa Clam

Squamosa Clam in a reef tank showing off green coloring. Image Source: 180 Reef

Squamosa clams require less lighting and flow but the better you can provide for them the better they are. Lighting is important for all saltwater clams and that means even the hardiest and less picky of the species could use a good light show above.

A par range from 200 to 300 is ok but if you can up that to about 450 they would greatly appreciate it.

Crocea Clam

Crocea clam in a reef tank featuring bright electric green coloring. Image Source: Reef2Reef

Crocea clams are the smaller of the few and do not grow more than 6 inches but they are a beautiful specimen that will add a beautiful splash of color and movement to your reef aquarium.

Crocea clams could benefit from high lighting in the 250 to 450 range and even higher if you have the ability. Mine enjoy a par of 600 but be sure to gradually increase the par over time.

Crocea Clam Care

Crocea clams aren’t too picky with their care but you should provide medium flow and intense lighting if possible. They are very easy to care for and do not show itself as unhappy when they aren’t receiving enough light. The more the better.

Feeding Crocea Clams

I feed Reefroids for successful growth and nutritional needs. Crocea clams are filter feeders exporting nutrients from the water in your reef aquarium.

Maxima Clam

Red Sea Maxima clam with blue colors halfway open. Image Source:

The Maxima clam is the most popular saltwater clam of its type. They are found all over the world in shallow areas of the wild ocean and aquariums but mostly aquariums whose owners have a more professional experience.

Maxima Clam Care

Maxima clams require a ton of random flow and are not so hardy compared to their relatives. To make this clam happy be sure to have an established aquarium for at least 1-year-old and lots of live plankton and stable parameters.

Feeding Maxima Clams

Maxima clams feed by pulling nutrients from the water in your reef aquarium. This is why they need strong flow and excellent lighting to assist with energy production.

I like Reefroids for feeding all of my coral and other filter feeders. This food contains all of the nutrients they need to survive and flourish. This product helps with amazing growth for coral and clams.

Easiest Clams For A Reef Tank

Derasa clams are among the easiest to keep happy as they are not very picky but that doesn’t mean you should just add one to add one.

I recommend that you at least age your aquarium 6 months to 1 year before adding a Derasa clam to your reef tank. Yes they are probably the easiest clam for a reef tank and easiest to keep alive but don’t underestimate their needs to survive.


Clams are a great addition to any reef aquarium. Be sure to have adequate and intense lighting and flow for these reef inhabitants. To keep a clam you need to have an established aquarium with lots of zooplankton for feeding.

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