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zebra and quagga mussels


Black and Caspian Sea in Europe


Zebra Mussels are usually less than one inch long, and have a D shaped shell, while quagga mussels are slightly larger had have a rounded shell. Coloration varies from solid light brown to dark brown or striped.


They can reach high densities causing problems for water intakes, docks, boat motors, and infrastructure. They filter vast quantities of water for microscopic organism, potentially altering the entire food web within a water body. These mussels cannot be controlled once they establish themselves in a body of water.
Image of Zebra/Quagga Mussels on Motor

Range Expansion:

Zebra and quagga mussels are most commonly spread by human transport by recreational equipment. Just because you can't see the mussels doesn't mean they aren't there. Mussel larvae can only be identified with the use of a microscope.

South Dakota Distribution:

Zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in South Dakota.

Keep Aquatic Invasive Species Out of South Dakota's Waters


  • Remove aquatic plants and animals before leaving any waterbody.
  • Drain water from bait bucket, live well, bilge and motor before leaving any waterbody.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait, fish parts, and worms in the trash.
  • Spray/wash boat, trailer, and equipment with high pressure hot water on your way home or at home -OR- dry everything for at least 5 days.
  • Always report questionable species.


  • Never release live animals or plants - this includes all aquarium species, bait, pets or water garden plants. Do not release these into the wild. If you cannot find another home for animals, dispose of them in a trash can or bury them. Seal plants in plastic bags and dispose.


Because these hitchhikers can:

  • Reduce game fish populations
  • Ruin boat engines and jam steering equipment
  • Make lakes/rivers unusable by boaters and swimmers
  • Dramatically increase the operating costs of drinking water plants, power plants, dam maintenance, and industrial processes
  • Reduce native species
  • Degrade ecosystems
  • Affect human health
  • Reduce property values
  • Affect local economies of water-dependent communities.
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